Thursday, March 5, 2015

So Sorry It's Over : The Sad State of Blink-182

Photo Credit : MTV
It's been a little over a month since the whole Blink-182 debacle happened. I wanted to get this article up when it actually happened, but my thoughts were all messed up. I kept re-writing it, and it just didn't come out right. Now that time has passed, and more stuff has come out, I think I can present my thoughts a bit better. Or maybe it will still be awful. Who knows.

For people who don't know what the hell I'm talking about, let me give you a brief (or, at least as brief as I can make it) summary:

Blink 182 got back together 6 years ago, after being on hiatus for a few years. It was a big deal. People who grew up listening to them in high school rejoiced. Kids who grew up listening to them in grade school who never got a chance to them live were ecstatic. They got back together, went on a few tours, and then put out their 2011 album Neighborhoods, which debuted #2 on the Billboard charts, and sent Blink 182 back on top.

Blink-182 reuniting at the 2009 Grammy Awards
They went on tour to support Neighborhoods. They then put out a EP, titled Dogs Eating Dogs, at the end of 2012. They also promised a new album for 2013. At this point, the reunion seemed to be going very smoothly. Then, that's when things came to a stop.

2013 came and went, with no album. They did some more touring, but no sign of new music. 2014 came around, and the band said they were in search for a label to put out a new album. Towards the end of the year, they said they had come to an agreement with a label and that an announcement would be made soon. Great news! Right? Not so fast.

About a month after deciding on a label, on January 26th, Blink 182 sent out a statement saying that guitarist/vocalist Tom Delonge, had once again quit the band. The band had a scheduled show (Drummer Travis Barker's "Musink Festival"), and they stated that Matt Skiba, guitarist/vocalist from the band Alkaline Trio, would be taking over duties for Tom at the show. The news came out of nowhere, and blindsided fans. They were confused. Did Tom quit? Was he kicked out? Is Blink 182 continuing on after this show with Matt Skiba?

We do know some answers. Tom's manager basically told Mark and Travis that he quit, by basically sending an email that said "Tom.Is.Out". This was sent to them about a week before they were supposed to head into the studio to start working on the new album. The band wasn't gonna let this happen quietly like last time, so they publicly came out and announced that Tom didn't want to be in the band anymore. They did an interview with Rolling Stone, where they called Tom "Ungrateful" and "Disingenuous", with Travis even questioning why the band got back together in the first place. Tom, in his own statement, stated he never quit, and that he was forced out. He did admit though, that he wasn't gonna be able to record the new album this year due to other commitments he has.

So where does that put us now? Well, Mark and Travis are still performing with Matt Skiba at the Musink Festival this month. Rehearsals have already started, and according to the band, have gone great. Travis even stated in a recent interview that he's happy to have someone who "Actually plays guitar and doesn't use Pro-Tools". Tom, on the other hand, has announced a album containing supposed Blink-182 demo's that he will be releasing on April 21st.

Blink-182 rehearsing with Matt Skiba
Now, after reading all that crap, you are probably wondering what my take on all this is?

Well, the news didn't shock me. In a sense it did, because they were just talking about the new album a few weeks prior, but when I really thought about it, I should have seen it coming. Tom just didn't look into it all that much, and it seemed like he was just in Blink-182 to use it as a way to fund his various other projects. Especially with his live performances, the dude sounded awful since the reunion. In the end, I agree with Mark and Travis's decision to want to continue on without Tom. If he's not fully invested and can't make time to record, why should they have to suffer?

Now, I know you have the whole "It's not Blink-182 without Tom" argument out there, and I can see where those people are coming from. For the majority of their careers, Blink-182 has been Tom, Mark, and Travis. But you have to really look at the situation here. Mark and Travis have been itching for the past 2 years to record new Blink material. The thing that has been holding them back, is that Tom can't find the time due to his other commitments.

Sure, the guy is allowed to have other commitments. Hell, Mark and Travis have other musical endeavors as well. You know the difference though? Mark and Travis always keep Blink their #1 priority. They always schedule their other things around  Blink-182 stuff. To Tom, Blink is a secondary thing, and when your working with a band as big as Blink-182, it has to be your #1 priority.

Lets face it, Blink-182 is no longer a band, its a brand. A very profitable brand. They make tons of money on tour, they sell merchandise like hotcakes, and whenever they put out music, it sells. Not putting out an album though for an extended period of time, can hurt the brand. People could forget you exist, merch sales might slow down, ticket sales for shows might decrease. Who knows what could happen if Blink went another year without releasing new music.

Tom is putting out these Blink demo's as a way to try to save his own ass, by saying "Look guys! I WAS working on Blink stuff!" and it comes off looking pathetic. He's also got these crazy, overpriced pre-order packages he's selling with this thing. We still don't even know what the tracklist is, or what exactly is going to be on the album, since it's also suppose to consist of Angels and Airwaves (Tom's other band) demos. It's just sad at this point.

Tom Delonge's solo album cover
Blink-182 means a lot to me, just like it does to a lot of kids my age. Enema of the State was the first album I purchased with my own money in 1999. I use to listen to Take Off Your Pants And Jacket everyday on the bus in 4th grade, going and coming home from school. I loved their down to earth goofy attitude. They just didn't give a fuck. I loved how they were just 3 punk rock skateboard kids, who just so happened to be in a band that got really popular.

Photo Credit : Billboard
They wrote songs about growing up. The awkward moments, the depressing moments, the happy moments. They covered it all. When they broke up and had the first bad exit with Tom in 2005, I was devastated. When they reunited in 2009, I was way too excited. I saw them live for the first time in 2009 at the Bank Center in Camden with Taking Back Sunday, and it was an amazing show. Even with Tom sounding worse than usual, they still put on a hell of a show. All that mattered was that my favorite band was back. It was also amazing to see how many kids were there that were younger than me, with Blink-182 shirts on. Kids 11, 12, 13 years old, singing along to every word. It really showed how their music was relatable to everyone, and how relevant they still were in the music scene. They almost, in a way, got even bigger during the break up.

The recent news, while it didn't shock me, still hurt for a bit. I was legit bummed. This band had been my favorite band since I was about 7 years old, and they were going through more drama. They are in a very sad state. Now that I have had time to think about it for a bit, like I stated earlier, these guys didn't deserve what Tom was putting them through, and It will be cool to see them perform live with Matt Skiba this month.

Now where do they go after that show? Time will tell. They want to continue as Blink-182, but there's all this legal stuff that has to be sorted through. There is a chance they might not be able to go on using the Blink-182 name without Tom. They might still be contractually obligated to put out a record with the new label they signed with. I honestly would be really excited to hear a Blink-182 album with Matt Skiba.

Matt Skiba, of the band Alkaline Trio
Honestly, we really don't know what's next for Mark and Travis. Will they ever make up with Tom? Did this recent situation poison their relationship for good? Even if they got back together, how long would it last? All valid questions. All I know is this; Blink 182 will continue to be my favorite band. They always will be. If they make a new album with Tom, I'll be buying it. If they make one without Tom, I will be buying it. Even if they never make another album again, I'll still have all the old songs. I'll have songs when I'm feeling happy. I'll have the songs for the awkward moments. I'll have the songs for when I'm down in the dumps. I'll show these songs/albums to my kids. They will also be able to relate to the songs. Even though the title of this article makes it seem like it's the end, it doesn't have to be for these guys. Wherever these guys go, I'll be along for the ride, and I'm sure many others will be too. Because at the end of the day, It's just like what Mark tweeted the day all this drama unfolded:
Damn right, Mark. Damn right.