Will revamped blink-182 soar or thud?
I never want to act my age / What’s my age again? / What’s my age again?
Mark Hoppus was barely 27 in 1999 when blink-182 released “What’s My Age Again,” an infectious song about refusing to grow up despite facing the pitfalls of arrested development. It was the Poway-bred pop-punk trio’s biggest hit to date - and their first to suggest a budding sense of introspection, if not maturity.
But time waits for no one - as the Rolling Stones sang in 1974 - and acting (or not acting) their age is a more pertinent question than ever for blink.
Now 44, Hoppus is still singing “What’s My Age Again” nightly, at least judging by blink’s concert repertoire during its Canadian mini-tour earlier this month. He’ll likely sing it again when the group plays here tonight and Friday at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.
blink-182, with A Day To Remember and All-American Rejects
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday (sold out)
Where: Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, San Diego State University
Phone: (800) 745-3000
The shows will mark the official start of the group’s first U.S. tour since blink singer, guitarist and co-founder Tom DeLonge exited in early 2015, although whether he did so voluntarily remains unclear.
DeLonge contends he never quit and is still a member, even though his role was filled last year by Matt Skiba of the Alakaline Trio. Hoppus and blink drum dynamo Travis Barker maintain they were forced to replace DeLonge only after he refused to commit to a new blink album and tour. DeLonge subsequently released his first solo album and first work of fiction, the UFO-inspired “Sekret Machines Book 1: Chasing Shadows,” a 704 page book he co-wrote with A.J. Hartley.
The very public blink feud serves as a potent reminder of just how dysfunctional even the most successful rock bands can be, even after - or, rather, especially after - its core members have worked together since they were teenagers.
Hoppus is now the only original member still on board (Barker replaced the band’s original drummer, Scott Raynor, in 1998). This month, the revamped blink released a new album, “California,” its first since 2011’s “Neighborhoods” and only its second since 2003’s self-titled “blink-182.” (The group, you may recall, broke up in 2005, then reunited in 2009, after Barker survived a fiery plane crash that claimed four lives.)
The new tour by blink is timed to promote “California” - and to make as sound a case as possible that there’s life for the band with Skiba in place of DeLonge. The album entered the national Billboard sales charts at No. 1 last week, after selling 186,000 copies and knocking Drake’s “Views” out of the top-spot after a 9-week run. (This week, Drake is back on top and blink is at No. 3, with sales of 37,000, an 80 percent drop.)
“California” is blink’s first chart-topping album since 2001’s “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.” Alternately rousing and a case of aural water-treading, it is an uneven outing and overly long at 16 songs, even though two of them -"Brohemian Rhapsody” and “Built This Pool” - clock in at just 30 and 16 seconds, respectively.
A solid team player, Emo veteran Skiba is an accomplished guitarist and singer, if overly earnest, who seems deferential to Hoppus. It’s a respectful move that yields mixed results, since the bratty interplay and banter between Hoppus and DeLonge accounted for so much of blink’s proudly juvenile charm.
“California’s” best songs, including “Bored to Death” and the melancholic “San Diego,” suggest blink could have a solid future. The album’s lesser songs suggest the real test will be if blink sticks around for another album and tour. Only then will we - and the band - know if it can thrive with Skiba in place of DeLonge.
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