Blink-182 have finally reached post-pubescence. For their fifth album, the San Diego punks vetoed the masturbatory references, retarded jokes and doo-doo humor that had been the band’s calling card since its debut nearly ten years ago. Instead, for their new disc, Blink-182, Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker toiled for nine months in a rented house, breaking out of their pop-punk mold by experimenting with keyboards and drum samples to create a darker, tougher sound. Bassist Hoppus, 31, who is the proud father of a one-year-old daughter, Eva, is stoked about how far the group has come. “The biggest dreams we ever had when we started was to play a show at Soma in San Diego, which holds about 1,200 people,” he says. “Everything after that has been a blessing.”
What’s the first record you bought with your own money?
In fifth grade, I went out and bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I got it on cassette and listened to it on my brand-new Walkman that I got for my birthday. I felt so cool to have a Walkman. It was about as big as a hardcover book [laughs].
How did you end up getting a bass?
I was really into the Cure and the Descendents, and because of them I wanted to learn how to play bass guitar. So my dad and I went down to the local music shop in Annandale, Virginia, and he bought me a Mako bass. I still keep it in my house. After that, the beat was on. I never took lessons. I just taught myself in my room — and my technique suffered.
Who are your favorite bassists?
I’d see videos of the Cure’s Simon Gallup, and I’d say, “I wanna play bass like that dude.” I mean, in high school I wore black eyeliner.
You got Robert Smith to sing “All of Us” on the new Blink album. How?
We said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get Robert Smith from the Cure to play on this song? Let’s try!” So we called him. Talking on the phone to him was an amazing experience, like a dream come true.
What’s your most prized piece of musical memorabilia?
I went and saw Sonic Youth at the Hollywood Palladium in, like, 1990. It was the tour for Goo, and I was pressed against the stage, and I got a Sonic Youth guitar pick that I keep in a photo album.
Have you ever tried to sneak backstage?
Yeah. I went to see the Replacements on their tour for All Shook Down. My friend talked our way backstage, and after the show we got to meet the band and got a poster signed by them. I keep it in my closet. I should really get it framed.
What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a concert ticket?
I saw Neil Diamond at the Great Western Forum in L.A. I had to pay $100 for that ticket. I gotta say, he puts on an awesome show.
Do you have a favorite rock trio?
The Police. Their songs are so amazing, like “So Lonely.” That is an incredible song. A lot of the stuff that Sting is playing on bass is really complicated, and that he can sing over it is pretty impressive.
What’s your favorite song from the hair-metal era?
Poison’s “Nothin’ but a Good Time.” I loved those videos where it looks like they’re playing a concert — y’know, lights and a huge stage — but you never actually see the crowd [laughs].
Do you and your wife have a “song”? Like something that was played at your wedding?
We didn’t have the traditional DJ’d wedding. We had a jazz band. But I’d say that if my wife and I had a “song,” it would be “I’ll Catch You,” by the Get Up Kids. We listened to that album [1999’s Something to Write Home About] a lot when we first started dating. It was playing when I proposed to her.
What are the last five records you’ve listened to?
The new Strokes record [Room On Fire]. I loved their first one, and I love this one. The new Rancid CD [Indestructible]. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Bubba Sparxxx’s Deliverance. What he says comes straight from the heart. And the Motion City Soundtrack [I Am the Movie]. I love their lyrics.
What’s the best music to masturbate to?
Classical! Then you feel like a high-falutin masturbator. Like an intelligent masturbator. You don’t have as much shame afterwards.
Is there a certain symphony you’d recommend?
I have to do a lot more research.