If you were to pinpoint a highlight year in the career of punk rock masterminds Blink-182, your initial thought likely would lead you somewhere in the 1999-2001 range ("All The Small Things" days) versus 2016. But with the band's first album in five years, California, landing atop the Billboard 200 last July -- their first No. 1 on the chart since 2001's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket -- and earning their first Grammy nomination in December, 2016 is looking like a pretty solid vote too.
Although they didn't win the Grammy, Blink-182 are ready for round two with the album, with a deluxe version of California due May 19, along with a European tour and their Lollapalooza debut over the summer. First, though, they'll be making a stop in Phoenix.
Blink-182 will perform at the Capital One JamFest alongside Aerosmith, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Sunday (April 2) as part of the NCAA March Madness Music Festival, an event that Blink's lead singer Mark Hoppus says "sounded like a really fun time" upon receiving the invite.
Leading up to their performance, Hoppus hopped on the phone with Billboard to chat about Blink-182's involvement with the festival, also diving a little deeper into the new material and his band's resurgence -- or as he puts it, how they're "still kickin' ass."
Is there a different feeling or vibe you get while playing festivals -- especially nowadays with the convergence you're seeing in the demographic of your fans?
When you play a festival like [the NCAA March Madness Music Festival], not everybody's even heard of Blink-182, let alone like our music necessarily. So we curate the set list a little more, play mostly singles and try to put out a little more effort because you have to win people over. It's a fun challenge.
What does it feel like for major things like the Grammys and Lollapalooza to recognize you? What do you think you've done sonically or as a band that's getting you that kind of recognition at this point in your career?
It's hugely humbling and a giant honor. We never ever thought we'd get nominated for a Grammy, and I've always thought Lollapalooza was a really well-respected festival -- so to be invited to play these different events and festivals is really cool. We've always kind of kept our heads down and made music that we like and that's catchy to us, and it's served us well. I feel like we're very lucky, but we also work very hard... it's worked out well for us. We're very thankful.
What does it mean to you to keep making music as Blink 182 after 25 years, being able to continue creating the music you want to be making and seeing it resonate almost more now than it did before?
It means the world to us. We're on tour, and there are people who have been coming to Blink shows for a decade, and there are people who are coming to their very first concert ever. Our band has kind of become this multi-generational thing that we couldn't be happier about.
Why did you decide to release these new 11 songs as a deluxe version of California versus an entirely album?
We still felt that this was part of the California sessions and the California album cycle. When we first went into finish up the deluxe, we thought we were going to finish recording the songs we had leftover and maybe in the studio write a couple extra songs. But by the end of it we had basically another whole album, yet California is still going on its own. At one point we entertained the thought of "Let's do three or four more songs on this and then save these other eight songs as the foundation for the next record." But the next record won't come out for another year, and we didn't want to sit on eight songs for a year because at that point we might get bored of them. And we want to give people value for money.
What do you hope fans take away from this latest set of songs?
I think that if people like the album California, they will love the deluxe. A lot of times, bands put on songs that are kind of garbage songs, that they didn't feel were strong enough to put on the actual album. And we honestly felt that this group of songs were strong enough that it could be the foundation for another record.
Some of the songs are a little bit more experimental than what we put on the record. There's a song called "6-8" that's a very heavy song, it's in 6/8 time which is why we titled it "6-8." "Bottom of the Ocean" is a little more electronic sounding, and "Good Old Days" is inspired by dance music of the late '90s, early 2000s. Hopefully people will check it out and like the experimentation.
How long do you want to tour on the California material and deluxe content before heading into the studio to write again?
Oh no, we're totally thinking about it. We're touring the US throughout the spring, we're going over to Europe and the UK during the summer, coming back to the US, playing Lollapalooza and some other shows to give back to California, our home, and then take a little bit of time off and start the next album.
Are there any songs in this next set that you're personally excited about?
We wrote a song called "Misery," it's what I like about a lot of songs... it's catchy, it feels upbeat, but the lyrics are kind of dark and moody. I also love "Parking Lot" because of the energy and the immediacy of it -- and it sounds like old Blink-182, like back in the Dude Ranch days.
If you could give a sort of tagline for what 2017 means for Blink 182, what would it be?
Blink 182 in 2017... still kickin' ass.
Blink-182's set will take place at 5:00 p.m. MST, with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats performing before and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Aerosmith following. The event will be televised on DIRECTV Channel 239 at 10 p.m. ET or online at att.net/attblockparty.