photo & text by nacrowe
the creation of the self-titled BLINK-182 (GEFFEN, 2003) album found the band at a bit of crossroads. and really the decisions made during this dysfunctional period have impacted the band ever since. during this period BLINK-182 was effectively synonymous with POP PUNK to the extent that nearly every band that came in their wake appropriated some aspect of their SOUND, STYLE and overall DEMEANOUR to some extent. im talking about the advent of side hustles with clothing lines and associated lifestyle brands (MACBETH, FAMOUS STARS & STRAPS, ATTICUS, etc.) and the bro culture and through FENDER through MESA BOOGIE TRIPLE RECTIFIER equipment setups and so on.
i think BLINK-182 at this point in their careers were effectively over themselves.
they became recent fathers and BLINK-182 is nothing short of a total re-imagination not only of their sound but of their overall outlook. musically they were always a power trio with the most virtuosic being unquestionably their absolute stud of a drummer TRAVIS BARKER. whereas on ENEMA OF THE STATE (MCA, 1999) and TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET (MCA, 2001) they allowed him to guide the structure and composition of TOM DELONGE and MARK HOPPUS-penned songs, with BLINK-182 the gloves were completely off. the drums throughout are heavily processed, gated and phased utilizing various close and distant miking techniques that effectuated a sound that was more multi-dimensional, immediate and engaging.
this newfound experimental streak in terms of production, spurred in part by long-time producer JERRY FINN (on his final collaboration with the band), i believed helped spur the more SOMBER, INQUISITIVE and MATURE lyrical content. if you are familiar with BLINK-182 then you have to be aware of their celebration of all things juvenile and immature, so this new direction with its serious tone was effectively a sea change. this can further be seen in their collaboration with none other than ROBERT SMITH of THE CURE as well as KEN ANDREWS of FAILURE on the record. SMITH and his MELANCHOLIC OPTIMISM as well as ANDREWS EXPANSIVE PRODUCTION STYLE both were key inspirations that help contextualize the record. key tracks include "VIOLENCE," "STOCKHOLM," "ALWAYS," "FEELING THIS," "ASTHENIA" and "DOWN."
sadly the record that shows the band musical at their most cohesive found the band self-destructing in slow motion. blame by fans has long been dumped on the shoulders of DELONGE, who didnt communicate his aims with his BOX CAR RACER side project and alienated HOPPUS in the process, who took such in stride. unfortunately a seed was planted in DELONGE's mind that he had a wider sense of vision then BLINK-182 allowed which resulted later in the subsequent formation of the very MEDIOCRE vanity project ANGELS & AIRWAVES (i say MEDIOCRE but when i mean to say is AWFUL), which included former forgettable members of BOX CAR RACER. sans HOPPUS relate-ability and BARKER's musicality and composition chops, DELONGE's post BLINK-182 career has been listless and completely disappointing. for their part, HOPPUS and BARKER's short-lived +44 project and MATT SKIBA-fronted BLINK-182 continued the fun, freewheeling spirit of the band. group chemistry is a funny thing and each original member brought something to the table with this band, whose summation was greater than its parts. unfortunately the reunion album NEIGHBORHOODS (DGC, 2011) proved to be a showcase the distance DELONGE had estranged himself from his bandmates both personally and creatively. which, again, is sad.
when i hear this record i hear a band at the top of their game experimenting and playing with a form/genre on a level that their peers could begin to touch. they havent been back since, which is a shame. if you are fan of POP PUNK or ALTERNATIVE ROCK in general, then BLINK-182 is required listening. it is definitely worth checking out.