Blink-182 have confirmed their split from “disrespectful and ungrateful” Tom DeLonge after the singer and guitarist denied leaving the band. It’s the latest in a mixed bag of events over the band’s rocky 22-year career.
They’d already released a slew of demos by 1994, but signing with Cargo Records was the real genesis of Blink: a record label that was the beating heart of the San Diego punk scene, their endorsement of the trio raised their profile and led to them releasing their debut LP, ‘Cheshire Chat’, in 1995. Scant financial budgets meant the album was recorded in just three days.
Things weren’t always rosy with Cargo, though, and the cult success of ‘Chesire Cat’ was a double-edged sword. They caught the attention of an Irish band called Blink who demanded that Hoppus, Barker and DeLonge change their name or risk being sued. They added the random numbers 182 – although it’s often been claimed that it’s also the number of times Al Pacino says “fuck” in Scarface.
Given their puerile jokes and fondness for toilet humour, Blink 182 already had an irreverent approach to punk’s purist ideals. So when major labels started circulating in the mid-90s, the trio had no qualms about ditching Cargo for a slicker environment: after a three-way bidding war between Interscope, Epitaph and MCA, they plumped for MCA and released second album, ‘Dude Ranch’, in 1997.
The track and video for ‘All The Small Things’, where Blink-182 lampooned plastic boybands and manufactured popstars, rocketed the band to stardom. The promo, which took the tropes of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys and turned them crass and dumb, won Best Group Video at the MTV VMAs in 2000, while the track itself became a giant crossover hit.
And with ‘All The Small Things’ came the massive success of ‘Enema Of The State’: the young, dumb and fun equivalent of blowing a huge raspberry at the dull and the dreary. With its sleazy puns and sing-along singles, it’s shifted over a whopping 15 million copies worldwide since its release.
In 2005, Blink-182 announced they were on “indefinite hiatus” due to friction among the band. DeLonge felt creatively hampered by the juggernaut the band had become, and craved the opportunity to work on other projects and spend time with his family. He was unhappy, too, that Barker had agreed to star in a MTV reality series, claiming that the constant intrusion of cameras was cramping his style.
During the time of the band’s split in the mid 00s, DeLonge announced a new band called Angels & Airwaves. At the same time he became addicted to painkillers, specifically Vicodin, which he was taking for his chronic back pain. He described that period of time as ‘insane’.
Surely one of the lowest lows of Blink-182’s existence. Barker was on a chartered plane heading to California in 2008 which crashed. It was a traumatic experience for Barker and he spent more than 11 weeks in hospitals and burn centres. His bodyguard was also killed in the crash, from which four died and two survived.
However, the plane crash brought the group back together, having been estranged since the split in 2005, as well as the death of their long-time producer Jerry Finn. They reformed with a high-profile presenting job at the Grammys in 2009. “Friendships reformed. 17 years deep in our legacy,” they wrote on their website.
Grimes, speaking in a video on the records she loves for Amoeba, explained how Blink-182 got her into punk and alternative music. “Blink-182 was the gateway drug to Aphex Twin,” she says. Perhaps we have the band to thank for one of the most innovative artists this decade? Who knew?
Headlining Reading & Leeds in 2014 was a high or a low, depending on how you look at it. NME’s Lisa Wright wasn’t convinced. “Blink-182 just feel like an outdated, cringey and – let’s face it – sexist joke,” she wrote. “Sure, tonight they just about win out through nostalgia, but without nostalgia what do they have? A bunch of tracks that are essentially a pubescent Robin Thicke at the rock show.”
Is DeLonge leaving the best move he could’ve made? How will Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba fare at filling in for him at the upcoming live shows? Does anyone actually care anymore? The future of Blink-182 and the next stage in their rocky career is yet to be written.