90s Music

Artist Profile: Blink 182

Photo of Mark Hoppus, Toom DeLonge, and Travis Barker playing their instruments
Blink-182 is a Southern-Californian punk rock band formed in 1992. The group emerged from the punk scene of the early ‘90s and gained notoriety for their high-energy shows and irreverent lyrical toilet humor. Blink-182 is notable for its humorous lyrics that can often be uplifting. Blink 182 is one of the most memorable pop-punk sensations in the ‘90s.

Founded by vocalist and bassist Mark Hoppus, the band’s lineup consisted of drummer Travis Barker, guitarist, and vocalist, Matt Skiba. Former members include vocalist and guitarist Tom Delonge and drummer Scott Raynor.

Formation and Early History

It all started when guitarist Tom DeLonge performed at a Battle of the Bands competition at Rancho Bernardo High School in California. DeLonge was introduced to drummer Scott Raynor and befriended Kerry Key. Key was dating Anne Hoppus, who introduced her brother Mark Hoppus to DeLonge. Hoppus and DeLonge connected after finding out they both grew up listening to punk music, and they played for hours in DeLonge’s garage. They formed a trio with Raynor, and eventually, they were spending time writing music, seeing punk concerts, and playing practical jokes in Raynor’s house.

The band had a lot of names at first, including Duck Tape and Figure 8, until DeLonge changed it to Blink. The group quickly created Flyswatter, a combination of original tracks and punk covers, in Raynor’s bedroom in 1993.

Blink began booking shows and was on stage almost every weekend. They became a mainstay at all-ages venue Soma San Diego in 1994. Hoppus’ manager at the record store, Patrick Secor, lent the band money to record a demo at a local studio properly. The result was Buddha – it was released in 1994, and the album that the band considered as their first legitimate release.

Cargo Records offered to sign the band on a trial basis, so they could record their debut studio album Cheshire Cat, which was released in 1995. Blink’s first single, “M+Ms,” got local radio airplay.

However, the record drew the attention of Irish band Blink. As the band was unwilling to engage in a legal battle, they agreed to change their name. Cargo gave the band a deadline of one week, but they put off the decision for more than two weeks, so Cargo called and demanded that they change the name or the label will change it for them. Because of that, the band decided on a random number 182 to add to their name.

In 1995, the band embarked on their first national tour, to promote the surf video GoodTimes with other groups. In 1996, the band toured heavily, even reaching Canada, Japan, and Australia. That same year, the trio began to draw genuine attention from major labels, resulting in a bidding war between MCA, Epitaph, and Interscope. MCA ultimately signed the band, with a promise of complete artistic freedom for the trio. After touring, Blink-182 began recording their follow-up LP, Dude Ranch, which was released in 1997. “Dammit,” the album’s lead single, received heavy airplay on modern rock stations.

The trio embarked on a tour after the album release, but the exhaustive schedule brought tensions among the band. Raynor was fired mid-1998 due to heavy drinking. Drummer Travis Barker for the tour replaced him, but eventually joined the band full-time.

Mainstream Breakthrough

When the group’s third album Enema of the State was released in 1999, Blink-182 was catapulted to stardom. They became the most significant pop-punk act of their time. The album spawned three singles, which all became major radio hits. “All the Small Things” became a #1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also produced “Adam’s Song” and “What’s My Age Again.” Thanks to MTV – the trio also became video stars. The album was a big commercial success that sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, inspiring a “second wave” of pop-punk music. Due to the success of the album, the band also had its first arena tour and cameo appearances on TV and film.

After a successful album and tour, the band recorded the goofy-titled album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and released it in 2001. It became the band’s first #1 album in the US, Canada, and Germany, and produced the singles “The Rock Show,” “First Date,” and “Stay Together for the Kids.”

During their time off from touring, the band went on to pursue their personal projects. DeLonge produced an LP, Box Car Racer, emulating his post-hardcore influences, and invited Barker to record drums. Barker also joined a hip-hop and rap-rock band Transplants, which also includes Rancid’s Tim Armstrong.

Blink-182 regrouped in 2003 to record its fifth studio album, Blink-182, which infused experimentalist elements to their usual pop-punk sound. This move was inspired by their lifestyle changes, as all the band members became fathers before the album was released. Blink-182 went on worldwide touring, which brought them to Japan and Australia, and even in the Persian Gulf during the first year of the Iraq War. Critics complimented their more mature music, with its lead singles “I Miss You” and “Feeling This” charting high.

Hiatus and Side Projects

Tensions within the band started to grow, stemming from differences in priorities and the grueling schedule of the band. In 2005, Blink-182 took an indefinite hiatus, but the band had broken up after the trio’s arguments about the recording process and the band’s future. DeLonge felt conflicted about his creative freedom and the toll the band life is taking on his family life. DeLonge wanted to take a half-year break from touring to spend more time with his family, but Hoppus and Barker were dismayed. They have come to the conclusion that the band has drifted apart, which led DeLonge to exit the group.

DeLonge disappeared from the public eye briefly and made no appearances nor interviews. He remained silent until September that year when he announced his new project Angels and Airwaves that released two RIAA gold-certified albums in 2006 and 2007. Meanwhile, Hoppus and Barker continued playing music together as +44. Barker became a star in the MTV reality series Meet the Barkers with his then-wife. Hoppus shifted his attention by hosting a podcast and producing albums with his former tour-mate.

In 2008, Barker was involved in a plane crash that killed four people. Barker survived and sustained second and third-degree burns. The accident also resulted in several surgeries and 48-hour blood transfusions. When Hoppus heard the news, he jumped on the next flight to the burn center. DeLonge swiftly reached out to Barker, and the trio met up in the hospital. This led them to continue with the band for a reunion.

Reunion

After nearly five years apart, the trio appeared at the 2009 Grammy Awards announcing their reunion. Blink-182 took their reunion tour from 2009 to 2010. Barker, who suffered from the fear of flying after his accident, traveled via bus or ocean liner for the tour.

In 2011, Blink-182 released their sixth studio album Neighborhoods. This was a self-produced album that peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. The band continued touring in the early 2010s and pursued their tenth-anniversary celebration with a series of shows. In mid-2014, DeLonge abruptly quit the band again, saying that he finds it hard to commit.

Lineup Change

Barker and Hoppus decided to continue the band’s career without DeLonge and recruited Alkaline Trio guitarist and vocalist Matt Skiba. After working out legal battles with DeLonge, Skriba became an official member of Blink-182. It resulted in the album California, which was released in 2016. The album became the band’s second #1 album on the Billboard 200. It also reached the top of UK charts for the first time. The lead single, “Bored to Death,” became the band’s first #1 single in 12 years. California earned the band their first Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Album.

In 2019, Blink-182 released their eighth studio album entitled Nine. Musically, it boosts the band’s pop-punk sound with hip-hop and electronics-inspired programming. For the time in between, each member of the group explored side projects as well.

Best Songs

If you dig into the band’s eight studio albums, you will find an artistic evolution that only a few can in rock can match. With shifting music, different fans would have their own list of best songs, but here are the most agreed-upon list of best songs:

  • Dammit (1997)
  • The Rock Show (2001)
  • I Miss You (2003)
  • Adam’s Song (1999)
  • All the Small Things (1999)
  • Stockholm Syndrome (2001)
  • What’s My Age Again (1999)
  • Mutt (1999)
  • Down (2003)
  • Blink (1999)
  • First Date (2001)
  • Stay Together for the Kids (2001)

 

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