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Exclusive Interviews: Inside the Ups and Downs of Blink-182

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Tom Delonge

Do you think you're better able to appreciate Blink now than you were during the last few years of the bands first go-round?
Yeah. When we stopped playing shows we were getting around six to 10,000 people, which is huge. When we got back together two years ago the shows were 25 to 30,000 people a night. That's insane. It blew my mind. I realized that our approachability, our fun, next-door neighbor kind of thing actually meant a lot more than I gave it credit for meaning. It represented 70 percent of America's suburban youth. Kids that lived in little cookie-cutter houses, but they wanted something different. That's when I realized that all those things aren't necessarily attributed to art, but to lifestyle.

You seemed like goofy guys that I knew in high school.
We were those guys. I remember we were in Florida and Mark came out of the dressing room covered in suds, naked with white bubbly stuff all over him. And he decides that he's going to go into the Goo Goo Dolls' dressing room and ask if they've seen his towel. And this is at a point where no one likes us and we're just playing these radio station festivals. All these bands were like, "Who the fuck are these guys? They're just fucking stupid and saying dick jokes." They had every reason to hate us because they're artists. We took every opportunity to really laugh at ourselves, and it was pretty transparent that we were in on the joke. People responded to it. We were the antithesis of the rock star. 

Our producer Jerry Finn, before he passed away, was saying one time that people forget that the Beatles were considered a joke band for a while, with the movies and the girls chasing them. It wasn't cool. It took them to kind of step out of themselves . . . and I'm not saying we're better than the Beatles. [laughs] But my point is that in any really cool timeline with any band, hopefully it's bumpy and hopefully there's a lot of of breaking apart that box and taking people on an ambitious joyride. Because when artist takes all those leaps and risks, it's what's fun for the rest of us.

When the band broke up, you guys went into very different musical directions. There was some concern amongst the fans that it would be hard to reconcile those differences on a new album.
Yeah, I thought so too. But at the same time, if you listen to "Up All Night" it sounds like Angels and Airwaves. I mean, that's who I am. Angels and Airwaves is a complete, pure reflection of who I am. The philosophy, the spiritualism, the esotericism, the idea of hope and space and the themes about life and grandeur . . . that's all me. So to pretend that I can't . . . that's me. That's what I sound like when Mark and Travis aren't with me. You've always heard Travis' love of hip-hop and drum and bass and electronica. He's all about rhythm and he's the best drummer on earth. If he didn't bring his of love hip-hop into Blink-182 then we'd never have songs like "I Miss You" or "Down." The new record is called Neighborhoods because we're all three radically different people from different neighborhoods.

It's hard for some people to understand how working in separate studios would lead to the best possible record. It also made it seem like you guys weren't getting along
I get it. I was talking to Mark about this last night in his dressing room. I said, "Dude, I feel like if the three of us wiped our schedules clean and focused on nothing but being together and writing this record, infinity is where we could have ended up." For whatever reason, what we have now is what was meant to be. It was just not pressuring each other, letting everybody have their respective projects. There was no fights. There was no arguments.

Everyone was like, "Tom's got Angels and Airwaves. It's important to him. Cool. Travis has got his solo record coming out. He's been working on it for three years. Let him do it. Mark's flying out every other week for a TV show. He really enjoys it. It's his thing. Cool." We really just took our time. We didn't have pressure. There's a lot of plusses and minuses to working this way, but I think there are more minuses than plusses. Because I was talking to a guy who represents the Police. They tried to get back in the studio and they couldn't pull it off. They just couldn't do it.

Do you mean recently, or back in the 1986 when they briefly reformed?
After their last tour. He went, "You accomplished something they never could. You made a record." So whatever the process needed to be, it needed to be that way.

You guys were longtime friends. The Police were never friends. They had no roots, so when a storm came it just knocked them over.
Yeah, Mark and I have pretty deep roots. I met him specifically to start the band, but at that level we weren't a band. We were friends hanging out, skateboarding every night and terrorizing the town 'til two in the morning like a pack of wild wolves. 

After the break-up a lot of fans obviously blamed you for what went down. There were stories that you changed your number and refused to talk to the other guys. You were seen as the villain of the whole thing. Was that difficult to deal with?
Yeah, it's difficult. I mean, yeah. I started this band. It's not like I wanted to end it, but I have a really bad problem. I feel like I can do anything in the world. And my second problem is that I want to take care of everybody. So what happens is that I usually put too much of myself out there and I take on way too much. So when Blink got all big, all these people were running the machine except for the band. We started to grow out of young adulthood and into real adulthood. We started to become different people. Travis started his TV show. And I wanted to go out and expand as an artist. It's like you're best friends with a guy and all of a sudden he got a girlfriend. And you're like, "Wait, it's only about us. What's she doing here?"

For me, it all got very toxic. It was all about money. It was all about ego. It was all about fame. I needed to be home with my daughter. She was two years old and I was gone for two years. I was like, "I'm going home." But at that point we weren't even communicating. We were communicating through other people. Later, we all hated each other's guts through the press. That's easy. It's another person making the fight for you. We just needed a break. We were tired. 

The fans saw me as the villain. I'm sure they did. But nothing I ever did was vindictive. I said some bad shit because I got addicted to Vicodin for quite a while because I have a really bad back. I got all hopped up on narcotics and that fueled my fucking belief that I can really change my life and that messed me up for a while.

How did you get clean?
I just stopped one day. Well, I was unable to get any for a week. I was taking so many that I called my doctor and was like, "I need more" and they're like, "You can't have any more, but in a week you can talk to the doctor about getting more." I thought, "Oh, fuck. I'm going to be so deep in withdrawal and puking my brains out and shaking and fevers" and I just said, "Look, don't ever give me these things again." I just hung up the phone and went through with it.

Did you worry about your ability to play the old songs now that you were older?
I love that people ask that question. That's honestly what I thought too. So I do Angels and Airwaves and I convince myself that I'm growing as an artist. It's light years ahead of anything I'd ever done at that point. So I was wondering how I'd be able to play these songs. But as soon as you put that guitar on you forget how fast and loud and fun it is. Every night before I go onstage, I still listen to old punk bands like NOFX and the Descendants for the same reason that I did as a kid. It brings back that eternal youth kind of spirit. It's awesome.

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