The fact that Blink-182 are selling out gigs on one of the summer’s hottest tours is impressive considering the trio underwent such a bitter split four years ago, Tom DeLonge quit the group and changed his phone number so bandmates Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker couldn’t reach him. It’s even more remarkable considering Barker nearly died in a plane crash that killed two of his best friends and DeLonge plunged into an addiction to painkillers he can only describe as “insane.”
In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Barker reveals details about the September 2008 Learjet accident that resulted in 16 surgeries, 48-hour blood transfusions and post-traumatic stress disorder for the first time. “I opened a door, and my hands caught fire. I immediately soaked up with jet fuel and caught fire. And then I was on fire, running like hell,” he tells Rolling Stone‘s Gavin Edwards. “I was running for my family.”
Hoppus tells RS he was alerted about Barker’s accident by a phone call in the middle of the night and jumped on the next flight to the burn center. “You feel helpless to do anything other than be there for your friend,” he says. DeLonge found out via the TV news at an airport while waiting to board a flight. He landed and mailed a letter and two photographs to Barker: a photo of Blink aboard a submarine in the Middle East and another of himself and his two kids. “One was ‘Do you remember who we were?’ and the other was ‘This is who I am now,’ ” DeLonge says. “No one knew if Travis was going to live or if he would play drums again. It was a good moment to put the shit aside.”
After Barker got out of the hospital, Hoppus says the trio “had two gnarly heart-to-hearts, really opened up and said a lot of things, and after that we were cool, and we don’t talk about it. We’re guys.” But the lessons of the past four years were clear: “When human life comes into the equation, that trumps everything,” DeLonge adds.
The band spent two months in the studio working on new and old material and completed a demo for the track “Up All Night.” When they hit the road for their reunion tour, they starting selling 28,000 tickets in markets that they used to sell 8,000 (read our review of the tour’s opening night in Las Vegas) and discovered they have a new role in the scene, as pop-punk’s elder statesmen.
But getting older and cheating death haven’t eliminated the band’s potty-humor. Says DeLonge: “When Blink plays, there’s no difference between that and everyone getting a slow, awesome hand job.”