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Interview: Mark Hoppus on Blink-182’s new album, 'California'.

Interview: Mark Hoppus on Blink-182’s new album, 'California'.

"Thank God for punk-rock bands" - Blink-182, 'Kings Of The Weekend'.

Blink-182 are a band with an undeniable legacy in pop-punk, having been the front-runners of the scene for over two decades. Having forged a career based around dick jokes and having fun with your friends, Blink have epitomised music that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still makes you want to queue for hours to secure a spot on barrier at their shows. Having inspired legions of bands to follow in their footsteps - the likes of Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Motion City Soundtrack, Taking Back Sunday, and many more would likely not exist without the influence of the band - it’s a fair claim to say that Blink-182 are the true Dads of the scene.

Like any band who has been around the block a few times, Blink are not without controversy - the latest in the saga is that the indefinite departure of founding-member Tom DeLonge is actually due to the fact he’s too busy working with the U.S. government on some alien related activity. But what they’ve done a great job in doing is creating a solid album that blows any talk of bickering bandmates or conspiracy theories out of the water, and marks a pleasant return of those racy, funny, witty lyrics and high octane head-bangers that we’ve been missing in pop-punk for a while. 

The brand new album 'California' is a defining new phase in the long and storied career of the band, with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba having joined the line-up on a full-time basis to help record their seventh album under the moniker. And despite founding Blink twenty-four years ago now, Mark Hoppus says his goals for Blink-182 haven’t changed much - he just wants to make good music, play great shows, and hang out with his friends for a job.

Releasing this Friday, July 1st, Coup De Main was lucky enough to get Hoppus on the phone to talk all things friends, family, music, and California...

"...when people think of California they think of palm trees and blue skies and gorgeous sunsets and beaches and everything else. But there’s also this weirdness to California, this darkness, it’s a place where people come to follow their dreams and sometimes don’t make it..."

[Above and below photos by Willie Toledo]

COUP DE MAIN: Your new album, 'California’, deals with a lot of emotions - feelings of loneliness, numbness, cynicism, and avoidance. What do you personally feel is the strongest human emotion? 

BLINK-182 - MARK HOPPUS: The strongest human emotion is probably love. I think it’s universal. I think that across language and country and time and everything else, probably love.

CDM: What do you think it is about human nature that makes happiness such a struggle to strive for?

MARK: I think that happiness is a great thing to strive for, but very difficult to maintain - people are always striving for something different, and something better. No matter what, I think people are trying to better themselves, or to better their situation, or to find something new and exciting. So I like that about human nature, that people are always striving to do better, and find something new.

CDM: How would you define true happiness?

MARK: True happiness for me is playing a concert in Blink-182, and then hanging out with my friends and my wife and son, and going out for Mexican food.

CDM: You decided to throw out a bunch of songs and start again for this new record - what was the thought-process behind that?

MARK: When we got to the studio with John [Feldmann, producer of 'California'], we’d already written about thirty song ideas and we showed them to him and he was like, "Oh yeah, these are really cool, I think there’s some great stuff in there. Why don’t you guys come into my studio tomorrow and we’ll start a song from scratch and we’ll record it and see where it goes." So we went into the studio with John the next day and wrote two or three songs that day, and went back the next day and wrote more, and more the next day, and more after that. It wasn’t even really a decision not to go back to the first thirty songs, because we were on such a roll with the new stuff that it just never came up.

CDM: What’s your favourite thing that Matt Skiba brought to the new album?

MARK: Matt brings an incredible sense of melody, his voice is incredible, he is a very gifted lyricist, a great guitarist, a good friend. He’s kinda the whole package as far as anything you could want in a bandmate.

CDM: 'Built This Pool' is hilarious. The decision to include a 17-second song about naked dudes in a pool must have a decent story behind it - how did it come about?

MARK: 'Built This Pool' was an idea that I had for a song starting several years ago, and as we were in between takes of recording something, I was actually holding a guitar at the time, and I played this silly thing, and sang the lyrics to 'Built This Pool' kinda in the background. And John spun around and he was like, "What was that that you just did? What was that that you just played?" And I was like, "Oh, it’s just this joke song that I’ve kinda had in the back of my head for a while." I played it for him and he was like, "Oh my gosh that’s great, we have to record that." So we went in and recorded it, and later on that day Travis came to the studio to play drums on an entirely different song, and he had not even heard the 'Built This Pool' song and John said, "Okay I’m gonna play you something and you’re gonna record on it. You’ve got four counts going in and it’s sixteen bars, so do a rock beat," and he just threw it to Travis, and Travis played the first thing that came into his mind. And then the song came to an end and it’s Travis’ genuine reaction saying, "Is that really it?"

CDM: In 'Bored To Death', you say, "It's a long way back from seventeen." If you could speak to your seventeen-year-old self, what advice would you give him?

MARK: You know what, I liked seventeen-year-old me, I was happy when I was seventeen. I was this troubled goth kid that wore eyeliner and make-up to school and listened to punk-rock music and I loved my friends and I started to make music - I like seventeen-year-old me. I would probably say, 'Don’t worry so much about stuff as you grow up.'

CDM: Songs like 'Teenage Satellites' and 'Kings Of The Weekend' clearly embrace your more youthful side. Do you think you’ll feel young-at-heart forever?

MARK: I think so. I mean, after all this time, still feeling like I did when we first started the band or when I was in high school, I don’t think that we have to grow up. I feel like being in a band, you get license to be a kid forever. I feel like anyone can be a kid forever as long as you have that mindset and attitude towards the world.

CDM: In 'Sober', you apologise saying, "I know I messed up and it might be over, but let me call you when I’m sober." What’s the worst apology you’ve ever had to make?

MARK: When I was growing up skateboarding, a bunch of friends and I went to this thrift store and as we were leaving I jumped up and passed gas in my friend’s face. I turned around and it wasn’t my friend, it was this nice old lady who was just walking out of the store. That was probably one of the more awkward apologies I’ve had to make in my life.

CDM: How did Patrick Stump [of Fall Out Boy] contributing to 'Sober' and 'San Diego' come about?

MARK: He’s been a friend of ours for a long time, and when we were talking about working with different producers and songwriters for the record, Patrick’s name came up. We were excited to work with him - he’s a very gifted lyricist and songwriter, and a really cool guy and it was a pleasure to work with him in the studio.

CDM: And Martin Johnson [of Boys Like Girls] is credited on the song, 'California' - what did he contribute?

MARK: Yeah, Martin’s awesome! He came in with this piano-part idea. In the beginning when we first started writing it was almost a show-tune, shuffle-y kinda thing, and it evolved from there. But Martin’s really talented and also a very gifted songwriter.

CDM: You worked with All Time Low on 'Tidal Waves' last year and you’re about to head out on tour with them. Do you plan to play it live together at all?

MARK: I don’t know that we’ll play it live, I don’t think that I’ll go out and sing with them before I sing with Blink, but they’re a great band - I was glad to be part of their album.

CDM: You’ve given the album a pretty definite context - the title is 'California', there’s songs called 'Los Angeles' and 'San Diego', and references to Mulholland and Sunset Drive. Why did you want to talk about California on this record?

MARK: We never really set out to talk about California on the album, it was something that we noticed that was happening about three-quarters of the way through the recording process. We were looking at which songs we thought would make the record and we realised that there was this theme coming through. I think it’s just a product of being in California for as long as I have, and Matt and Travis have - Travis and I actually grew up in California, and we just have that kind of mindset. While we were talking in the studio we were referencing Californian punk-rock bands or locations, and John’s studio is in the middle of a valley with all glass windows and we were looking at this beautiful pool and palm trees. And even though it was January, in Los Angeles it was beautiful and sunny and the blue skies were out and it was hot everyday, so I think it was just a product of our environment. And California to me as a concept or as an idea always seems like endless optimism and endless opportunity - when people think of California they think of palm trees and blue skies and gorgeous sunsets and beaches and everything else. But there’s also this weirdness to California, this darkness, it’s a place where people come to follow their dreams and sometimes don’t make it. So I kinda like the duality of California and the dark side, the underbelly of California, and I think that’s what this album feels like - there’s endless hope and optimism but there’s also a darker side.

CDM: Do you consider 'home' to be a physical place? Or a mental space? That whole 'home is where the heart is' idea...

MARK: Home for me is wherever my wife and kid are.

CDM: In 'She’s Out Of Her Mind' you say, "We all need something to live for." What’s that for you personally? What do you live for?

MARK: I live to play music, and hang out with my wife and kid, and hang out with my friends, and discover the world. Read books, watch movies, see art, see the world, meet new people. Every single day that you walk outside your house is something new and different and exciting.

CDM: Important question: You’ve credited yourself with being responsible for breaking up a bunch of bands - My Chemical Romance, Zayn leaving One Direction... So, who do you plan to break up next?

MARK: I haven’t chosen the next victim of which band I’m gonna break up next. No idea. It usually happens spur of the moment, like when I broke up My Chemical Romance, it was just that day that I decided it was time for them to be done. And people were very upset about it so I have to choose my next victims carefully.

CDM: You’re one of our favourite celebrity Dads - so what’s your best Dad joke?

MARK: Why do scuba divers fall backwards off a boat? Because if they fell forwards they’d still be in the boat.

CDM: Who would win in a Dad-joke-off between you, Pete Wentz, and Gerard Way?

MARK: I would win for sure, I’m more Dad than any of those dudes.

CDM: And finally, the last time you came to New Zealand was for Big Day Out back in 2000. Would you consider returning if we fundraised for a cruise ship to bring Travis down?
MARK: Yes, entirely - we are looking into that as a possibility. We love touring in that part of the world, and we would do it again in a second, especially if we can get a boat for Travis to get down there.

Blink-182’s new album, 'California’, is out this Friday, July 1st. Click here to pre-order on iTunes now.

Watch Blink-182’s 'Bored To Death' music video below...

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