Part of the Rockfreaks.net staff are currently looking forward to August 20th with anticipation, due to their impending journey to Hamburg Crash Fest, where Blink-182 will be playing, and with the band about to depart on the related tour, now seemed a good moment to grab hold of bassist/singer Mark Hoppus for an interview. Fans have been curious to know about Blink-182's stylistic changes, about the status on their next album and about the members' priorities as they have grown up. All of that and more were the topics in the conversation that turned out as follows:
RF.net: To get things started, can you let us know where in the world you are and what you are doing right now?
Hoppus: Right now I am in the English countryside in our farm house that we have, and before I was on the phone I was putting away my equipment, because yesterday I was extracting the honey from my bee hive so I cleaned out all my equipment and put it away today.
RF.net: Sounds awesome! People are currently talking quite a bit about the upcoming Blink album. There was some talk at one point about you starting work on it earlier this year, but how far have you come as it looks right now?
Hoppus: We are basically at the very beginning of the process. We were going to start recording at the beginning of this year, but there were some things happening in some of our personal lives that prevented us from getting in the studio, so now we are getting in the studio at the end of this year instead. We have the beginning of song ideas at this point, and we are really just excited to get into the studio and have an album out sooner rather than later.
RF.net: Do you plan to record it more conventionally with all the members in the same room or will you do it remotely, like you did with "Neighborhoods".
Hoppus: Hopefully we can all mostly be in the same room. I am actually moving back to Los Angeles at the end of this summer, and then all of us will be in Southern California so it will be a lot easier for us to be in the same place at the same time.
RF.net: Is it too early to ask then if you want to get a producer involved?
Hoppus: I think as a whole we want a producer in the studio with us. I think we need that unbiased opinion. But the trick with us is that it has to be someone that we all know and respect. That was always the thing when Jerry (Ed: Jerry Finn, producer on "Enema Of The State", "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" and "Blink-182") was our producer for years. He was a great friend that all of us loved and we completely respected his opinions as a songwriter, producer and engineer. Jerry seemed to get the best out of us in a completely unique way, and it is going to be difficult to find that in a different producer.
RF.net: If we look at your latest album "Neighborhoods" that album was quite different from the previous ones. Looking back, why do you think that is? Is it you guys growing up or did you get over the pop-punk style at some point or what do you think it is?
Hoppus: I think it is just a natural progression as songwriters. We started out doing pretty basic punk-rock or pop-punk music and I think we always have that heart. At the core of Blink-182 songs I think they are melodic and catchy but I think we want to do different things with that core as well, rather than making the same album every time because I think that gets stale. We wanted a different thing and to try different ideas. Tom is very much into bands like The Police, Coldplay and U2 and this big, giant, expansive stadium rock sound - anthemic, big movements and things like that - while I am very much into compact indie rock, dirty guitars and fast songs and then Travis is all over the place, being into heavy metal and hip hop and old school rock. And somewhere in that dynamic the three of us are always twisting songs to our own devices. When the three of us are together and we all put our hands on a song that's when things get really cool.
Yeah I guess you could definitely hear some of that diversity merging there on "Neighborhoods". Meanwhile, I don't know if you are aware but the Swedish pop-punk Future Idiots re-recorded the album doing their interpretation
of the "classic Blink sound". Did you hear that?
Hoppus: Oh cool! I haven't heard it though, no. But it's a cool idea, I have to check that out, that's awesome.
RF.net: Ah, I'll have to wait with asking what you think until next time then I guess. Speaking of your older sound though, what are your thoughts these days about your oldest albums "Chesire Cat" and "Dude Ranch". Do you still enjoy them and include songs from them in the set?
Hoppus: It's really.. It's interesting, because you look back at pictures of yourself from fifteen years ago and you are wearing weird clothes and you have a dumb hairstyle and you wonder why you were like that, but you also look back at other things which were awesome memories and it is the same with some of the good songs. When we play a song like "Carousel" or "Dammit" - We have been playing "Carousel" since the first day that I ever met Tom - It was the first song that I ever wrote 22 years ago and it's still fun to play. All these songs are almost like tattoos in how each of them has its own meaning and its own memory and history behind it.
RF.net: Some people have also asked about +44, and while I know you were emphasizing that Blink was your main focus, but how do things look now? Are their any thoughts happening of making another +44 record in the future?
Hoppus: Not actively right now, but I love that album. The +44 album was a very unique point in my life and there is a lot of emotion put into that album - a lot of finding myself put into the lyrics - and we had a great time recording it and touring it. So I love that, yet right now there are no plans to do another one, but that is not to say that we won't because it was so much fun and I would love to do it again at some point.
RF.net: A lot of people in Denmark speculate when you guys are going to make it here. You obviously have a show close to here coming up at the Hamburg Crash Fest on August 22nd that we are going to be covering though - What can we expect from the performance in Hamburg?
Hoppus: We are bringing back some stuff from the old days along with some newer stuff.. I think we have put together a really great set that both shows where we started and where we are right now and hopefully where we are going to move to in the future. There is stuff from every single album and there are cool ideas, like a really cool light show and some surprises and really just try to have a good time.
RF.net: Here in Denmark the largest music festival is Roskilde Festival, and each year it seems that when the rumours start flying around, the bands people are always hoping for are Rage Against The Machine and Blink-182, so we wanted to ask you if Roskilde Festival has indeed ever contacted you or if there is any other likelihood of you playing here soon?
We are not book on any other shows than what is public this summer, but I would love to play in Denmark and definitely once we have some new music we are going to do a lot of touring for a couple of years, so hopefully we will find ourselves there.
RF.net: You can't reveal if there's been any past negotiation with the festival just to satisfy our curiosity a little bit?
Hoppus: I don't know if we have been contacted or not. Every time we book a tour, our agent is in contact with a bunch of different people, but I would not know if there's been contact with that particular festival at any point.
RF.net: Ah, that's a shame - We had a similar question regarding this year's Groezrock Festival in Belgium where rumours of your participation were flying about but I guess it's the same answer for that then?
Hoppus: No, I don't know anything about that right now either.
RF.net: I was just reading briefly about this new band you are starting yourself, Nothing And Nobody, and I was wondering if Blink-182 is still your first priority?
Yes, Blink is always my number one love and priority and Blink is where I get the greatest satisfaction in my life outside of my family so that will always be where I put the lion's share of my energy and creativity and love. There is also downtime though, when Tom and Travis and I are doing other things, so my friend Chris and I have been working off and on over about a year on some songs. And when we finish this tour there is three months free before Blink hits the studio, so Chris and I are going to hopefully put the record together during those three months. It'll just be a fun project to do while Blink is on downtime.
RF.net: How do you see that turning out then? Is that going to play to your liking for the dirtier, more compact indie rock?
Hoppus: I think so yeah, but there is a heavy electronic part to it because Chris is very adept at keyboards and synths and also guitars, and we are talking to different drummers. So the future actually feels wide open with that, but it will always be something separate and outside of Blink and something we do for fun on downtime.
RF.net: Since I'm running low on time and questions, I'll round off with a standard question that's always fun to ask people in your position, namely what music currently excites you, that you would recommend our readers to check out?
They should check out a band called Hop Along
, they should check out a band called Paws
from Glasgow and they should check out the new Cloud Nothings album
. All three are bands that are doing really great stuff right now!
RF.net: I definitely agree with you on Cloud Nothings and will be checking out Paws as well, seeing as everything that comes out of Scotland seems to be awesome! Regardless, since I'm out of questions and we are almost out of time, I will leave you with the opportunity to send the interview off with anything you might want to shout out.
Hoppus: Thanks for the interview and hopefully everyone will enjoy Crash Fest and I hope we will be able to play in Denmark very soon!