Blink-182 

All growed up

In San Diego, ten years ago, three unlikely teens got together and formed a punk band. Originally called Blink, they were forced to change their name when an Irish techno band of the same name threatened to sue them. Several million albums and over a decade later, Blink-182 is all grown-up with a solid new album and a more mature band.

Band members Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker have come a long way from their days as head-bangin' boys in the back of the garage. Known previously for their childlike character and lewdness, a variety of events have contributed to the redirected vision of the band. Since the release of 1999's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket singer/bassist Hoppus and drummer Barker have turned 30, and all three band members have recently become fathers. In an interview with MTV.com, Barker said, "I think you do things better when you have children. It's weird, but somehow it gives you extra energy or extra power or something." Guitarist Tom DeLonge agreed with his band mates, saying, "We're just not 18 years old anymore." To further his point, he added, "Would you believe that in my bag at the hotel right now I have a book about how the State Department threatens our national security? That's my reading material. People wouldn't know that about us, and that's what's exciting about this record. These are a bunch of things that people don't know about us, musically."

Each member has also been involved in side projects, including Barker's electronica-inspired punk act The Transplants and the dark, experimental rock of DeLonge and Barker's Boxcar Racer.

Their fifth, full-length album (which is untitled not self-titled) is quite the departure from their previous guitar/bass/drums driven pop-punk-rock like 1999's Enema of the State. Although that album garnered many hits for the band, including "What's My Age Again," "Going Away to College," and "All the Small Things," it was difficult for the band to be taken seriously. The new album features a variety of styles and is more lyrically complex than their previous effort. The signature jokes have been replaced with mature lyrics and an impressive arsenal both instrumentally and compositionally.

"We don't have any joke songs or anything like that on the record," says Hoppus. "Everything's pretty straightforward. On the other albums, we'd have 12 songs on them and two of them would be the joke songs. On this one, we don't have any." "We're not done with the jokes," Hoppus continues. "We're just ourselves. We'll always be ourselves. Sometimes we'll act like idiots, sometimes we're serious, sometimes we'll just be whatever."

The trio also enlisted the creative help of a couple of talented musicians for the album including long-time collaborator and producer Jerry Finn on harmonium and The Cure's Robert Smith on guest vocals for the track "All Of This." The new album features a spoken word piece as well as a host of interludes that bridge the songs together, making it a more concept-oriented collection of tracks.

Says Hoppus about the record: "On this album, we really made a conscious effort to go in with the attitude that we're not making our next record, we're making our first record. So we went in, and we didn't think about what people expect from Blink-182. If we had an idea, we wouldn't second-guess, 'Does that sound like Blink-182?' If that's an idea that we love, then that's what it'll sound like."

"It's one of those albums where if you don't listen to one song on it, you're not going to get it," Barker explains. "You've gotta listen to the whole thing—it's kinda like a mini-movie."

Although things have slowed down a bit for the group, Blink-182 still maintains an energy that fans have grown to love and get used to over the years. While the new album may mark an experimental turn for the band, their live show will not stray too far from the band's principal pop-punk. DeLonge maintains: "I have fun when I play no matter how sad the next song's gonna be. Our shows are always going to be like that."

Special opening acts include hardcore hip-hop collective Cypress Hill and emo-punkers Taking Back Sunday.

Thursday, April 29, doors at 6:30 p.m. show at 7:30 p.m., $31.50, Idaho Center, Nampa. Tickets at Ticketweb or ICTickets.com.

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