Mark Hoppus Tells All To B182.com (8.14.06)
Mark Hoppus: Hello B182. Thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to answer these questions you sent in. I know it has been a long time, and I haven’t spoken publicly about many of these things in a year and a half. I have a lot to say, so I hope you like to read…
1.Why the name +44? We know it's London’s calling code, but why did you pick it as your band’s name?
We picked +44 because London was where we first starting talking about it. We love London. I can’t wait to get back there on tour. Actually, I can’t wait to get back to everywhere on tour.
I’m going to give you the complete history of (+44) up to today, and I think this will answer these three questions. Cool? I hope so. Here goes…After Tom quit blink-182, Travis and I started recording new songs. When we first started putting these ideas down, we were recording in his basement and my dining room. We were using electronic drums, keyboards, samples, plugging guitars directly into the computer. By necessity everything was completely electronic, and it was exciting to try these new ideas in a different approach than starting every song on guitar. Travis would lay down a beat on his electronic drums, maybe a keyboard part, I would add some elements, then a guitar line, then bass. We built the songs backwards. They were all demos, and we thought they sounded pretty rad. We wrote a few songs, and on one of them, Travis had an idea that maybe a girl could sing on part of it. I had written the lyrics as a call and response type of thing, and we called Carol, who is one of Travis’s friends from back home in the inland empire who sings and plays guitar. She came down and sang on the track and it sounded AMAZING. We started to work on some more songs together, the three of us.
I think at this point I had to fly out to New York for something with Motion City Soundtrack, and while I was there, I was asked to do a couple of interviews, which I did. If I remember right, I did one with John Norris for MTV News, and one on Stephen’s Untitled Rock Show on Fuse. Obviously they both asked about the new band. I told them the truth, that everything was very electronic, that me, Travis, and Carol were writing songs, and that we were very excited about the new music. Around that same time, in LA, Travis did a couple of interviews and was asked the same questions and said the same thing.
When we got back into the studio (basement/dining room) we started talking about the interviews. It was strange to be talking about music that we were just in the very first steps of writing. It didn’t feel right to talk about yet. We were talking about an idea. We had demos of a few songs, but nothing that was properly recorded, much less ready to mix or release. We were just getting started. So we stopped talking publicly about it. That’s why you haven’t heard anything from us about (+44) until now. We really truly wanted this band to be about the MUSIC. Let the MUSIC speak for itself. If we were out there talking about our band before the album, what would we say, other than “we are writing and recording music, and we’ll tell you all about it when we are finished?” We completely shut down the press machine and joyfully locked ourselves in the studio to make music.
Shortly thereafter, in spring of 2005, we invited our friend Shane to come down and play on a couple of tracks we were working on. Shane is another one of Travis’s friends from back in the day. He played in a band called the Nervous Return, who were on La Salle Records, and did many tours with blink-182, so we were already friends. He brought his guitar into the basement one night, we played him the demos, and he started writing some guitar lines over them. It was a perfect fit. Shane is a great guitarist, who loves punk rock music. He will talk you into the ground about the history of the Ramones and New York Dolls. He also loves the Cure and all the early goth stuff, all the way up through Interpol and everything else. His music knowledge is sick. Shane brings a strong guitar element to the (+44) music, based around very melodic ideas. Up to that point, I had been playing all the guitar parts, and when he came in we started trading turns recording them. All of our songs are completely collaborative, and Shane has had a hand in all of them. He spends all day in the studio playing guitar, when he is recording, when he is not recording, sometimes when other people are recording, and sometimes when other people are talking. What can I say, dude loves the guitar. We kept writing.
As we were about 3/4 of the way through the record, our friend Craig came in. With the strong rock element in the music, we knew we needed a second guitar and another voice onstage. Craig came in and we showed him a couple of songs, he played them, we talked for a while, and at the end of that day asked him to be the fourth member of (+44). Since then, he has been an equal part of this album. Recording guitar, writing parts, doing some backup vocals here and there. I don’t know what color his hair is going to be by the time we start touring in a couple of months, but he will be the guy on the left side of the stage.
And that brings us to today. To answer the question of what do I compare our music to, I have no idea and can’t even begin to try. I will let you all listen to the album and then you can decide for yourself what to compare it to. To me, the best way that I could describe it is Travis, Shane, Craig, and I locked in a studio, writing the best music we possibly can. I love our album. It has been the hardest, and best last year and a half of our lives. We pushed ourselves to do things we never knew we could, and are very excited to have the album finally done and ready to come out.
Yes, I will absolutely be podcasting from the road. You will be hearing about what is happening out there. You will hear interviews with other bands. You will get up to the minute reports from the guy who washes the bus, and all other manner of stuff that you have no interest in whatsoever. It will leave you shaking your head wondering, “Where the hell did the last half hour of my life go?”
15 years ago I had just graduated high school and was playing in a garage band with my friends, and never in a million years would have guessed where I would be lucky enough to find myself today. I have not a clue where I will be in 15 years. But yes, I will definitely be playing music. Yes, we plan on continuing (+44) for a long time. This is not a side project or part time thing. This is our love and career.
I feel blessed that we were able to do what we did with blink-182. Like I said before, it was beyond anything in my wildest imagination. All we can do is write the best music we possibly can and put it out there. Whether it is as successful as blink-182 is up to all of you. I hope that it is.
8. The circumstances of Blink's "indefinite hiatus" are still steeped in rumors. Tom has addressed the issue vaguely in some interviews. Could you give us your side of the story and explain exactly what happened, how it happened, and why? It must have been a pretty big deal for the band to have skipped out last minute at the Tsunami Benefit show.
The whole thing started a few months before the last European tour. We had been talking about and planning a final North American tour on the self-titled album in the spring. Our manager had encouraged it, and pushed us to do it, saying it was a great idea, that it would support the fourth single (Always). We had all agreed. Everyone wanted to tour. The touring we were doing was the most fun I think I have ever had on the road. The shows were awesome, we loved the songs we were playing, the reaction was amazing. The plan was for blink to finish the European tour, have January and February off, then tour in March and April or something like that. We have a fairly large crew (sound guys, guitar techs, tour manager, production crew, lighting crew, etc) that were put on retainer and told they would be working on blink tours at LEAST until the late spring, and possibly beyond. Everyone agreed on it all, and the tour was put together.
Later on, Tom started saying he DIDN'T want to tour, that he was burned out and wanted to stay home. He wanted to cancel the tour. Immediately our manager changed his mind as well. I was at an airport in Singapore, on my way to Nepal, and he called to tell me that he now thought we shouldn't tour. This is a good indication of the relationship between our old manager and blink-182 at that time. By that point, he was basically managing tom. Tom changed his mind on touring, and then our manager changed his too. Strange, right? Angry, I got on the plane and flew to Nepal and Bhutan, later meeting Travis and tom in London to begin the tour.
At the first show, our old manager flew out and sat us all down in the dressing room before the show. He needed to have a meeting about the spring tour. He and tom sat on one side of the room and Travis and I sat at the other. Our old manager did all the talking. He announced that tom was done touring. He needed a break. He was "over playing music" and wanted to be with his family. The spring tour was going to be canceled. Travis and I were in shock. After the tour we were on, there were two months off. Wasn’t two months off enough time to go home and relax with your family? Who in the world gets two months off from their job to hang out at home? But it wasn't enough. He needed more time. Much more time. Travis and I said "okay, if you don't want to tour, how about let's stay home and start the next record?" We had a lot of ideas and were ready to start laying them down. And tom could be with his family. He didn't want to do that either. He was burned out and just wanted to stop. We asked him how long he needed, and he said he didn't know. The conversation got heated and lasted for two or three hours. It went around in circles, and the end result was the canceled tour, with no idea when we would be doing anything with blink-182 again. Travis and I told tom and our manager that we weren't willing to sit on our hands for six months, that we still wanted to write and play music. They understood and agreed. A couple of days later, tom told us that he needed six or more months off. Our entire touring crew was told that the six months of work they had been promised was canceled, effective as of the end of the European tour ten days later. That was a couple of weeks before Christmas. The mood on the rest of the tour was sour. Everyone was bummed. Everyone was fired. The whole thing had come to a grinding halt for one person. But the shows were fucking great!
Travis and I were super bummed and angry at the position we were being put in. We understood that tom wanted to be with his family. We all did. We all love our families and want to be with them. At the same time, this is our job. We are so lucky to get to do what we do the way we do. We love our work and want to be out there doing it, and it was being taken away from us. We had no say in it. blink-182 has been a democracy since day one, and toward the end there it wasn't. it was all about one person. it felt ugly. it really did. so we went home and started our six month break.
After Christmas the tsunami hit, and soon after that I called our old manager about the possibility of doing some kind of benefit show. I felt we needed to do something. I knew we were in Tom’s “time off” period, so I said I would do an acoustic set, or Travis and I could try and find a replacement guitarist for one show. I know there are allegations out there that I was booking blink-182 to shows without talking to anyone. This is absolutely not true. I called our old manager, and offered to do it without Tom, but Tom wanted to help the tsunami relief cause, so our old manager booked us to play on the benefit show at the Pond. It had been a long time since we had played, so we set up a few rehearsals the week before the benefit.
At one of the rehearsals, we started talking arguing about our forced break, the greatest hits record, and the possibility of recording the next album. Tom said on the next blink-182 album, he would ONLY record at his house in San Diego. He would not come to Los Angeles. He wouldn’t travel anywhere for the recording. He wanted me and Travis to record our parts up in Los Angeles as we wanted to, then send him the pro tools files down to San Diego for him to work on there. Mind you, on the last blink record, Travis drove down every day from Los Angeles to the studio in San Diego to record his parts. But Tom wasn’t leaving his house. This was the point our band was at.
Tom was deciding when we would tour, how we would tour, when we would have time off, when we would record, and how we could record. One person was dictating everything. We told Tom this. Things got hot. We told him if we were going to record the album separately, in different studios, our band was ceasing to be a BAND. The magic in the studio is created when the three of us are there TOGETHER, working on parts, discussing, sometimes arguing, all pushing the album forward. Trying to frankenstein a cd together by mailing each other pro tools files to work on in our own private studios was ridiculous. It would lessen the entire album. It would be a terrible cd. We asked Tom if he was ready for the consequences of what that meant? Would we really sacrifice the quality of our music for the convenience of his insistence that he record only at his house in San Diego? We said, "You are trying to control everything, and it's wrong." He said he couldn't be a part of anything he couldn't control, and he left the rehearsal space.
The next day our manager called and informed us that, "as of today, Tom DeLonge is no longer a member of blink-182." He said not to try and call Tom, that he had already changed his number and didn't want to talk to us. And that is how it ended. After 13 years of being in a band together, hundreds of thousand of miles toured, countless shows played, and seven albums released, Tom didn’t even call to quit the band. He had his manager do it for him.
Yes, our old manager used to talk around the fact that Tom wanted to do a solo thing. At one point there were these emails going around that I was accidentally copied on, talking about Tom starting a solo career. It wasn’t terribly long after that when Tom quit blink-182 “to spend more time with his family,” and went into a studio to start his new record. When our old manager told me Tom was starting to record, I asked him what Tom was calling his new project. He told me “He is calling it Tom DeLonge.” It was later changed to Angels and Airwaves.
12. We all know Tom plays a part of the Blink-182 song 'Down' for his AVA shows. How do you feel about Tom doing this, and do you plan on playing any Blink songs for your +44 shows?
Tom can play whatever he wants as his shows. It is his right. Any band in the world can play any music they wish at their shows. That being said, I think it is in poor taste that he plays blink songs at his shows. It is disrespectful to the fans. It is disrespectful to the legacy of blink-182. He quit blink-182. How are you going to quit a band and then play that band’s songs at your shows, and keep a straight face doing it?
Travis and I could tour as blink-182 if we wished. We could hire a new guitarist and hit the road. It would be our right, since Tom quit. Of course we have no plans to do that. Blink-182 was the three of us. The whole thing would be very disingenuous. No we will not be playing blink songs at (+44) shows.
No. When Tom told us all that he was taking half a year off, Travis and I told both Tom and our old manager that we were not going to do nothing for that time. We loved writing music and we wanted to work. We wanted to be in the studio writing. They said of course, that they understood. We were up front about everything we were doing. Even after Tom quit the band, and we were still talking to management, ON THE DAY THAT TRAVIS AND I WERE GOING TO START WRITING SONGS, I called our old manager’s office and told them “okay, Travis and I are going into the studio today. I am just calling to let you know.”
Obviously, since Tom had changed his number and wasn’t talking to anyone, I couldn’t call him directly and tell him “Hey, you quit the band. Travis and I are starting something new.” But we did everything we could to be straight and honest about what we were doing and why. There was never anything secret about (+44). Tom quit in the middle of February of 2005, and we didn’t even begin demo’ing until well into March. Did he think Travis and I were going to stop playing music altogether after he quit?
As to whether or not Tom and I will ever be friends again, I can’t say.
Yes we did. On the last North American tour, we took out a pro-tools rig and set up a demo studio in a dressing room every day. During the long hours of downtime on tour, we would go in there and lay down ideas for the next blink-182 album. There were some cool songs started in those dressing rooms. After Tom quit, our old manager called and said that he was going to take some of the ideas that we had started on the tour and rerecord them for Tom’s new band. When the Angels and Airwaves record came out, I was actually excited to hear what had become of those ideas. There were some great beginnings in those demos. I was really disappointed in what became of them, though, for the same reasons I mentioned above. I thought they would have made great blink-182 songs, but something got lost in the translation.
Not a damn thing. I loved every single minute of blink-182. The whole experience was a dream come true. We started in a garage and finished playing arenas. We wrote music that we loved, traveled the world, and sold millions of records. We were supported by the most amazing fans in the world. How could I possibly wish anything went any different?
Hmm, it’s hard to pick one most personal song. They are all personal for different reasons. I hope it’s cool if I give you the most personal songs. Here they are:
Adam’s Song, Apple Shampoo, Dammit, Every Time I Look for You, Go, Lemmings, M+M’s, Man Overboard, Stockholm Syndrome, and Wendy Clear from blink-182. And the entire (+44) album. The (+44) album is by far the most lyrically personal music I have ever written. The words are everything I have inside me put on a cd. This is the most personal album any of us have ever written. You want to know who we are, what we think, or how we feel? Listen to the (+44) cd.
The reasons behind Scott not being in blink anymore deal with some personal things that he had going on at the time. I don’t feel that it is my place to discuss these issues without his permission. So out of respect for Scott, I am going to pass on this question. He has done a couple of interviews that I have seen where he has talked about it, and I will let those answer it for you.
What’s up with that haircut?
Thank you. Thank you for everything. And see you soon!
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