“Dammit,” “All the Small Things,” “What’s My Age Again?”
Who Are They?
Pop-punk hooligans with a middle school sense of humor (and later a penchant for writing semi-serious songs with Nightmare Before Christmas references).
Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus met in 1992 and began jamming and writing songs in Tom’s garage. The two recruited Scott Raynor on drums and began playing under the name Duck Tape. Mark’s girlfriend at the time hated how much time he was spending with the band and gave him an ultimatum: her or the band. So Mark left.
Shortly after Mark’s departure, Tom told him he was preparing to record a demo tape. Mark dumped his girlfriend and the trio recorded Flyswatter (a nice mix of original songs and punk covers) in Scott’s bedroom.
The band (known simply as Blink at this time) played its first shows in empty clubs, but its popularity gradually grew along with the ‘90s California punk scene.
(Fun fact: Tom would call up local high schools in order to score a gig. He told them Blink was a “motivational band with a strong anti-drug message.”)
Blink recorded a proper demo called Buddha in 1993, which got attention from Cargo Records. The band signed to the label and recorded its first album, Cheshire Cat, in 1994. Though the album wasn’t commercially successful, it helped Blink develop a much larger fan base.
Once Blink started gaining popularity, the trio had to change their name to avoid a dispute with an Irish techno band of the same name. So they randomly slapped “182” at the end. (Despite people’s attempts to give this a deeper meaning, “182” is just a random series of numbers. Proof.)
Tom, Mark and Scott embarked on their first national tour in 1995 with Unwritten Law, Sprung Monkey and 7 Seconds. During the tour, fellow California punks Pennywise flew Blink all the way out to Australia to tour with them. Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge was pretty much a full-blown Blink fanboy, so he convinced Warped Tour founder Francisco Godinez to sign the band for the 1997 festival, saying, “They’re gonna be gigantic.”
After touring extensively, Blink went back to the studio to record Dude Ranch, which was released in 1997. Lead single “Dammit” received heavy airplay on Los Angeles radio station KROQ, and eventually made it on to rock radio playlists across the country.
Tensions between the trio mounted during the 1998 tour, and Scott was eventually fired. But Aquabats drummer Travis Barker came to save the day. He joined Blink full-time and followed Tom and Mark to the studio to record the group’s breakthrough album, Enema of the State.
The album, released in 1999, became a huge commercial success. Singles “All the Small Things,” “What’s My Age Again?” and “Adam’s Song” crossed over into Top 40 radio territory, resulting in Enema of the State selling over 15 million copies worldwide.
Where Are They Now?
Going strong after an “indefinite hiatus” and a mediocre comeback album (accompanied by a pretty awesome EP).
After the multi-platinum success of Enema of the State, Blink released Take Off Your Pants and Jacket in 2001. Songs like “The Rock Show” and “First Date” further fueled the band’s mainstream success. (Side note: The video for "First Date" has to be one of my favorite music videos of all time.)
During some much needed time off from the band, Tom started a side project called Box Car Racer and Travis hooked up with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong to form The Transplants. These side projects created a rift in the band, which possibly contributed to the darker follow-up to Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.
Blink’s eponymous fifth studio album was released in 2003 to generally positive critical reviews. Most critics praised the band for the more mature sound, but fans were split on the change.
The album’s second single, “I Miss You,” hit number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, and the accompanying video received heavy airplay on MTV and VH1.
But the success of blink-182 couldn’t diffuse the tension within the band. In 2005, Blink announced an “indefinite hiatus” and the trio went their separate ways for a few years.
Mark and Travis continued playing music together in the band +44 while Tom created Angels & Airwaves, a project that he called “the greatest rock and roll revolution for this generation.” (Tom later revealed that he was addicted to painkillers at the time, so his statement was bit ambitious.)
The three didn’t speak to each other until 2008 when Travis was involved in a grisly plane crash. That event brought the band back together, and plans for a reunion were under way.
Blink embarked on a North American reunion tour with Weezer and Fall Out Boy in 2009, and released Neighborhoods two years later.
But Why blink-182?
If you were as unimpressed with Neighborhoods as I was, you’ll be happy to know that Blink is back in the studio recording the follow-up.
What Does Sam Think?
It’s pretty obvious that I enjoy pop-punk. I think I’ve written about it enough for you to realize that. So let’s talk about the novelty of blink-182, shall we?
The band’s early albums (or at least the albums before 2003’s self-titled album) are brimming with toilet humor, three-chord riffs, and “I fucked your mom” jokes. Immature? Yes. Fun as hell to listen to? Absolutely.
I’d like to take this moment to compare Blink to Green Day. You saw it coming, so shut up.
These two bands are similar, yet very different in more ways than one. First of all, Blink has a more polished sound. That doesn’t make them a better band—it makes them more commercially appealing. But that’s definitely not a bad thing. I’m a fan of catchy pop-punk songs about prank calling your girlfriend’s mom.
Another major difference between Blink and Green Day is that Blink just took longer to mature. Now, I love Enema of the State, but when I heard that self-titled album, I was sold. Yes, I dedicated “I Miss You” to my boyfriend at the time, but the other songs are just so great. It’s a dark album, which is something I never thought I’d see from a band with a song about fucking a dog in the ass.
I do think Neighborhoods is a huge disappointment, though. I think even Tom said he wasn’t into it. But the Dogs Eating Dogs EP is pretty rad. If Blink can just summon the magic of that self-titled album again, they’ll have another great record.
But I’m all for musical growth. This is a band that has surprised me before, so I don’t doubt that they can do it again. They’ve gotten through the awkward reunion party, so now it’s time for the real comeback.
-- Sam Boyer, reporting from the ‘90s.