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An Analysis Of The Blink-182 Saga: Who Holds The Power Now?

Andy Ritchie
Andy Ritchie 27 January at 10.59



Rock Sound Digital Editor Andy Ritchie has been up all night keeping tabs on the events unfurling in the Blink-182 camp. Here’s what he makes of it all.

Something something Tom Delonge.
Something something quit the band.
Something something stay together for the kids.

In the last 24 hours, what we've all quietly thought for some time has become public: all is not well in Blink-182.

Whether you're a lifelong fan or have just paid a passing interest in their on-off existence over the past decade, you'll know that since Blink came off hiatus in 2009, things haven't been quite the same as they were before. Reunited after drummer Travis Barker narrowly survived a plane crash, there’s long been this nagging feeling that only two of the three of them really got back into this for the right reasons.

We’ve all heard the stories: they're a band with three separate managers. Their last record 'Neighborhoods' was recorded in three separate studios across the world. The three of them haven’t spent any time together offstage in a decade. Some of it’s true, some of it’s not. But it all paints a very dark picture of the band that used to run around naked together in music videos, making dick jokes and riding the crest of a pop-punk wave into the mainstream.


'Stay Together For The Kids' music video, 2001

Yesterday, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker said "that's enough". The gloves have come off and two punishing blows have been struck in Tom DeLonge’s direction - the first that "sanctioned statement" and the second, that explosive Rolling Stone interview.

It’s easy to think that the decent thing for them to do now - for the fans and for their legacy - would be to call it quits. As a lifelong Blink fan I wish they'd done this years ago. Truth be told I wish they’d never come off that initial hiatus. ‘Neighborhoods’ doesn’t hold a candle to ‘Enema Of The State’ or ‘Take Off Your Pants And Jacket’ (and even their pre-hiatus self-titled effort showed a band uncomfortable in its own skin), and their live shows have deteriorated as the years have gone on. Had they called it quits a decade ago, Tom could have continued to work with Angels And Airwaves and his other outside projects and we'd probably all resent him a little less for it, but it's not all that simple. In a legal sense Blink-182 IS the three of them. It's why they've been billed as ‘Blink-182 with Matt Skiba’ at the Musink Festival in California as opposed to just ‘Blink-182’, and it's why it's never been an option for Mark and Travis to simply just kick Tom out of the band. Tom owns the name and the rights to the band as much as the other two, and he's not out of it unless he says so. He's playing it wisely, and he's far more intelligent than we're all giving him credit for. Tom is the one in control here, he’s the one with the power. And for whatever reason - money, pride or just the simple fact that somewhere deep down he still cares for the other two or the band’s legacy - he's keeping that door ajar for as long as possible.

Or at least that was the case. But things have changed now. Mark and Travis have bitten their tongues for years about their relationship with Tom, carefully constructing their words in interviews to assure fans and the world at large that sure, they're a dysfunctional bunch, but they're still all in it together. The Rolling Stone interview is the last card they have to play - one that says "this is how ugly it is. This is how unreasonable Tom's being".

And, judging by that now-deleted Tweet Tom posted (see inset picture) following the publication of the interview, it looks to be working. They've gotten under his skin and his usually cool composure seems to be cracking. What we do know for sure is that Mark and Travis still want a part of Blink-182. The very fact that Travis - who usually shuns any sort of Blink press - is so open in the Rolling Stone piece shows just how desperate they’re getting to keep their dream and the Blink-182 name alive.

As the dust settles over the next few days and weeks, the question we'll all be looking to answer is this: who holds the power now?


 

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