Blink 182, who play Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Tuesday, September 20, reunited after drummer Travis Barker was injured in a Columbia, SC plane crash that killed four (the crash occurred after Barker and DJ AM played Charlotte exactly three years ago today). Next week the group caps the reunion with the release of “Neighborhoods,” its first studio album in eight years. Bassist, co-vocalist and co-founder Mark Hoppus (center, pictured with band mates Barker and Tom DeLonge and members of My Chemical Romance) talked to The Observer Friday about the album, reunion, and tour. Blink co-headlines the annual Honda Civic Tour with My ChemicaL Romance and openers Matt & Kim 7 p.m. Tuesday, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. Tickets are $33-$84.50 and are available at www.livenation.com.
Does “Neighborhoods” pick up where you left off musically? It does, but it goes further. There’s elements of things we’ve done our entire career. There are songs that sound like they could’ve been on “Dude Ranch,” songs that sound like our side projects, everything we’ve done in our career.
Did it come together quickly given the long hiatus? When we starting working on the album immediately after the band reformed we were all still very polite together in the studio. We were still working hard to protect this spark that was Blink 182’s rebirth. When you’re in the studio together you have to be able to not be polite. You have to be respectful, but to say this idea works or maybe we change this. To do that we needed to go back out on the road.
How close to Travis’ accident did you know that you wanted to reform?
I think we all felt it pretty soon after we all started talking. At first we weren’t even thinking about the band. We were concerned about our friend and not having this heavy animosity between the three of us. After a couple weeks of that, the Blink thing became the giant elephant in the room. I think Tom (DeLonge) was the one that brought it up first. He put the idea out as a question. I said, “I think we should do it. I think we love what we do when we’re a band.” Everybody felt the same.
Was there a sense that you hadn’t finished what you started?
It wasn’t that so much as it was just this void. Blink was a giant part of our lives. To have it not be there, it was a huge hole.
Did you get that same sense from fans?
Yeah. It was such a huge compliment. When Blink reformed we hadn’t spoken to each other in five years and we went back on the road to what were some of the biggest shows of our lives.
Have you upped the production from last time?
For sure. This is hands down the best looking tour.
Travis turned his drumkit into a turntable last time. Do he and Tommy Lee have a rivalry going?
Oh for sure. I don’t know if it’s a spoken rivalry. They’re friends. There’s a little one-upsmanship.
What kind of topics are you tackling on “Neighborhoods”?
We’re talking about darker stuff, loss of friends, addiction, the world.
Does having children help you still connect to subjects that resonate with youth?
Probably unconsciously. I did write a song for my son that did not make the record that was about trying to stay positive in a crazy world. Having children influences my world view.
How did you choose tour mates My Chemical Romance and Matt & Kim?
My Chemical Romance is a perfect fit for this tour. They’re similar enough in genre to make sense, but different enough to keep the show fresh. Matt & Kim is my personal choice to be on the show. It’s kind of the joke on the tour they’re the happiest band on the planet. They’re smiles are so big when they step on stage. Even my friends that are padded up and listen to hardcore all the time love watching their set.