Breaking Up Stay together for the kids: Should Blink-182 have called it quits the first time around?

With the dust settled on Tom DeLonge-gate, was it really worth it, after all?

Jumped or pushed, Tom Delonge is no longer a member of Blink-182. Amid doubts about the creative future of the band, emails were exchanged via managers, and the spat soon turned personal. It’s the story that broke the hearts of a generation of Blink fans in 2005. As we’ve seen recently, in a messy war of words, emails and hashtags, it’s playing out almost exactly the same a decade later. And let’s face it, it’s got to be bad news when even Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker is questioning why Blink even got back together in the first place.

Up until 2008, Blink were in much the same position, on indefinite hiatus and with “mad, mad different” priorities, in the words of Delonge. Then a Learjet 60 crashed during take-off and changed everything. Tragically four people died, and left behind two survivors; Travis Barker and his friend, the DJ Adam Goldstein. This incident kick-started a chain of events. Tom Delonge reached out to Travis, and ultimately, it resulted in Blink-182 reuniting onstage at the 2009 Grammy Awards. The pair hadn’t spoken since the band entered its ‘indefinite hiatus’ years earlier amidst arguments about tour schedules, MTV shows and side-projects, and meanwhile Tom’s relationship with Mark Hoppus was in a similar state of disrepute. Now though, there was the whiff of a second chance in the air. Travis had a new lease of life, and Tom and Mark both had a stark warning about what they’d almost lost. Citing that, like all good relationships, the three of them had just needed space to work things out, Blink-182 were back together. The question is, was it worth it?

We missed you (missed you)

Five months after their performance at the Grammy Awards, Blink-182 dived headlong into a massive touring schedule that only really wound down in August last year. It was intended as a live celebration of their legacy; a career-spanning festival dedicated to being young and dumb. Alienation, growing up and striking out with the opposite sex was as relevant as ever, and the new audience Blink’s reunion shows attracted was testament to that. The original generation of fans with logo tattoos and faded t-shirts stuck around, but kids too young to see Blink in their heyday stood shoulder to shoulder with them, singing every word with just as much conviction. There’s no doubt that getting back together bought Blink-182 to a new generation.

Then there’s the impact the tour had on the next generation of bands taking up the gauntlet. Panic! At The Disco joined them for the immediate leg of this reunion tour as support, and found reason to continue in the aftermath of two founding members leaving. It also pushed them together with current member Dallon Weekes, who has toured with them ever since and became a full time member in 2010. Fall Out Boy also joined them for their colossal 55 date US run, showing Pete Wentz and co. first-hand that, for some, reunions mean the world. In the UK, Twin Atlantic joined Blink for their festival warm-up shows in Scotland, and were later invited out on an arena tour. This exposure came at a time where people were finally waking up to their superb debut ‘Free’, a year after it was released. Would any of these bands be where they are today without Blink’s reunion showing them a light?

Blink-182’s first chapter inspired countless kids to pick up a guitar and start a band. Their second saw an all-encompassing global reach, undoubtedly having a similar effect.

Behaving like cocks on-stage

It’s something of an understatement to say that Blink-182 have never exactly been known for their live prowess or reliability; with concerts on both sides of the hiatus falling victim to cancellations. Since Travis Barker joined in 1998, he’s been the lynch-pin for the shows as Tom and Mark excitably bounce around the stage and insult one another. That chemistry might’ve became revered in their hiatus but still, their return to a bigger, sleeker stage saw cracks begin to show. The critics went with their knives out. Blink-182 were called outdated, cringey, and outright sexist. DIY’s own Tom Connick certainly found it hard to see the funny side of the band’s on-stage antics, or their lack of conviction when it came to doing their reunion justice. “You’d hope a band of this stature would have hashed out the finer details of a summer run this hyped,” he wrote, reviewing the band’s headline show at Brixton Academy in 2014. “Instead we’re greeted with three musicians jostling in their attempts to be ego number one. DeLonge and Hoppus shout over each other in both their mid-song ‘banter’,” and, he added disparagingly, “are dick jokes really still that funny in your 40s?”

From think-pieces about the puerile nature of the band, to digs about their ability to play their instruments, Blink-182 fans have had to defend their band frequently since their return. ‘It’s all about the chemistry, the atmosphere, seeing three friends together against the world,’ came the defiant cries on message boards and social media. However, with both camps admitting to tensions offstage, it seems The Tom, Mark and Travis Show was exactly that; an act. It seems reuniting onstage was as far as it ever went, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow for any fan.

These days Blink-182 are a band trading on their legacy and they all know it. While 2011’s ‘Neighbourhoods’ and 2012’s ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ had the cultural impact of Blink in their hey-day, they both display a band desperate to move things forward. Assertions from both the ousted DeLonge and the remaining members of Blink again throw dirt onto an already muddy history. ‘Neighbourhoods’ was recorded separately and assembled via email, and the release of ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ was a confused mess; seemingly an attempt to save the already fractured band. That knowledge affects how the albums play out. However, both releases offer a further dynamic to the band’s back catalogue and capture a sense of the confused world a post-hiatus Blink-182 found themselves in.

Side-projects and spin-offs

From Travis and Mark’s side project +44, formed while the dust was settling over the breakup, playing Blink-182 songs live to the amount of time dedicated to promoting the band, there’s a sense of inevitability about this whole mucky affair. And with that, a sigh of relief. Tom DeLonge may have started Blink-182 in his garage but it’s clear that band is only a small part of his life. Now he’s free from the shackles of it, he can throw everything he is at the ever-ambitious Angels and Airwaves with a confidence that a reunited Blink gifted him. He’s found a kindred spirit in Ilan Rubin and the Poet Anderson project is grand, encompassing and unique. For Angels and Airwaves, the sky is just the beginning.

As for Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, they’ve been in this position before, but this time they have the hunger to fight for the band that is their life. After the first split, +44 was a tentative step back into the world that had tried so desperately to crush their spirits. The fact they dropped everything +44 to dedicate themselves to a reunited Blink-182 says it all. Today, the pair have a better understanding of what Blink-182 means to them and the wider world. Something tells me they’re not going to let it go without a fight. There’s legal matters concerning the Blink-182 brand looming but if McBusted can find a way, there’s always hope. Especially with lawyers already present. “Travis and I are intent on protecting the legacy of Blink-182,” said Mark in an interview with Rolling Stone. ”I just want to go out and play Blink songs. I want to go out and play the songs that we’ve been spending the last 20 years of our lives writing. That’s what Travis and I want to do. If Tom doesn’t want to do that, which obviously he doesn’t, that’s OK.”

Where do we go from here?

The pair’s dedication to carrying on the legacy is exciting. With ideas already formulated and both ready to record an album as of December, the future of Blink-182 in a post-hiatus world has never seemed more promising. A picture of a Blink-182 rehearsal, shared on Mark’s Instagram, confirms the band, sans DeLonge, are wasting no time in moving forward. Blink-182 reunited as a knee-jerk reaction to repair a friendship.

However, this horribly public blowout has thrown a dark cloud over every memory formed at a Blink-182 concert in the past six years and tarnished a very important history. Tom, Mark and Travis have hurt a very understanding fan-base for the second, and potentially last, time. In all the confusion, the paperwork and the dark insight into a very fractured relationship, there’s one thing the three of them agree on; that this split is for the best.

As for the fans, we’re in the same situation that we were in 2005; except we’ve had countless more shows, new songs and the future looks a lot more promising than it did a decade ago. Knowing what we now know, would we want to repeat the past ten years? Always.

Tags: Blink 182, Features

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