This interview took place on the phone with Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 on October 21, 2003. Thanks to Colleen for setting it up and my shorthand for holding out. If you want to use any of this interview please have the courtesy to link to Punktastic.com

PAUL: “Hey Tom, so, this new album, I hear it’s all finished and everything now?”
TOM: “It has been a long journey. We just got it finished, like last week, so it’s in production finally. It was a very stressful time but we are so pleased with it – it embarks on a journey.”

PAUL: “Bands always come out and say that new records are always their best, it’s a bit cliched, but I hear you say this is the best Blink record. I mean, it’s gonna take some beating…”
TOM: “Bands always say that records kick ass but we went in there and did things completely different. Before we would go in and write for two or three weeks and then record for four months. We would do it in an assembly fashion. With this record we said ‘let’s not do it in a studio’, so we went into a house. We did things when we wanted to and it took a lot longer. The advantage is that it gives you a record which gives you time to think and gives you the bigger picture. It gave us the time and ability to do a complete album. It goes on a rollercoaster of highs and lows and it has got depth and a lot of introductions and psychedelic parts.”

PAUL: “A lot of people have said it is a more mature sounding Blink record, is this what getting older and have a child does to you?”
TOM: “No, not at all. The only way having a kid affected the record is that it makes you aware of the world around you. It makes you more paranoid. We thought of this record as our first record. We wanted to carve out a chunk of music history. We have always wanted to try different things but never had the time, so we just said we will spend as long as it takes. We wanted to get the whole thing perfect.”

PAUL: “There were a lot of rumours flying about with you working with The Neptunes and Robert Smith of The Cure…were they ever true?”
TOM: “We had a lot of ideas and people asked us and we told them about the ideas. A lot of the stuff we said was we wanted to mix some elements that we thought were cool, such as electronica, but we thought we were better at the stuff we wanted to do than the people we wanted to work with so we did not need the collaborations. We did have Robert Smith from The Cure sing with us – we pulled that off because he’s such a legend. We produced it with James Godfrey (?) who produced Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ – it’s more of a drum and bass feel, there is a lot of that on the record. We like a lot of that stuff, we like clever electronic music, we like the effect that it has.”

PAUL: “Did the success of the Box Car Racer and Transplants records have any bearing on the sound and direction the Blink record would take?”
TOM: “I don’t think the success did but the ability to experiment did. The amount of experimentation on the Blink record is unparalled with Box Car and Transplants. Box Car recorded in like two months and The Transplants was in just a few short weeks.”

PAUL: “Will there be another Box Car album?”
TOM: “I think it’s too far in the future to say, but I don’t want any more work. There’s just too much shit – I’m completely focused on Blink. I think there is too much work in multiple bands, I didn’t think about how much there would be – I didn’t even do any press for the first six months it came out.”

PAUL: “I know the kids here in the UK are desperate for me to ask when you’re coming back…”
TOM: “I am sure the kids are a little pissed but we love the UK, far more than some of the other European countries. London is my favourite city in the world. The last interview I did they asked me my favourite place to play and every show we do there [the UK] is amazing, whether it’s The Astoria or Reading. We will be there right away – we are going over there at the beginning of the year for press and doing small club shows that are free, the ones we pay for ourselves. We wanted to bring the Dollabill tour but we don’t come over to Europe as much as we want to. The Dollabill tour gives us the chance to go back to what we started, it gives us a chance to play our music in the rawest form. It’s fine playing small shows but in Europe we want to make sure the kids get to see us play because we are not there often and that means bigger venues.”

PAUL: “At Reading and Leeds your set was made up of post-Enema material, have you made a decision to ditch some of the older songs in the live show now?”
TOM: “Not at all, there’s no reason for that but we have so many records that at festival shows there are so many people there who may not know you, only the stuff they hear on the radio. We throw in older stuff but maybe not as much as the old-skool fans would like.”

PAUL: “What did you think of the reviews of ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket? Do you think the records was maybe one fuck a dog song too far?”
TOM: “I don’t know about the reviews. I thought it was well received. It doesn’t matter what people think as long as the fans dig it. I mean, it was pretty successful because we sold millions of records and we played the biggest tours we ever have. Every band would like to have a critically acclaimed record and I think the critics will love this new one because it’s the ‘grown up record’.”

PAUL: “What do you think of the current crop of punk rock bands?”
TOM: “All the new punk rock bands I don’t listen to. I listen to…Brand New, Thursday…I love Dashboard Confessional and Chris’ old band Further Seems Forever – I think they’re rad. Sparta are one of my favourite bands. I listen to a lot of different stuff. I love AFI and bands that have been around a long time; Rancid and people like that. I don’t listen to a lot of these new bands, none of them are doing anything different.”

PAUL: “But don’t you think that Blink are to blame for that in a way? I mean you’ve been there and done it so well that for many there aren’t many places left to go…”
TOM: “Thank you for saying we have done it well. I don’t know, I mean I don’t think you can blame us. When we started 12 years ago I listened to bands like The Descendents – we wanted to have it different, we put a little flair on it. We got into playing our own style. The current punk rock bands, well, they just are not trying to be different. Maybe they are just doing what they like but when you are the musician you cannot just recreate what you like. You have to put your own flair on it. Punk rock was about people wanting to be different and having a voice to change. I think that is what this new stuff is lacking.”

PAUL: “So, to quote Refused, do you think the new record is the shape of pop-punk to come?”
TOM: “I do, only because we have accomplished something with this record a lot of pop-punk bands will try and emulate. I don’t think we will set the standard. I think we had the option to take a year to make this kind of music and I think it will open minds to do something different. It sounds like us. I think it’s a pre-cursor of what needs to happen. Bands take the time to put in the thought to make a deeper record – they put in more thought. Refused said all hardcore bands sound the same – they did the different thing. They did a lot of stuff the hardcore bands would not do. I think bands might take notice [in the same way].”

PAUL: “Does this mean the end of songs about fucking dogs?”
TOM: “We will always joke around. The bands that come out every record and they are always pissed off, it’s fake. Well we are never happy all the time either. We will always have fun and crazy shows and have joke songs here and there. At this point [in our lives] we have done the joke shit and we want to do something different. We want to say ‘hey, we are doing something different and it’s not about growing up’.”

PAUL: “Just some final quick questions. Do you have a favourite song to play?”
TOM: “A fave song on the new record would be ‘Easy Target’ or ‘Down’. The first is like two songs with the same music and one is fast and one is slow. Robert Smith sings on the song and it’s about this thing that happened to a friend of ours. We played it two different ways and it sounds like two different songs. ‘Down’ is more electronic and drum and bass. As for the old shit, I don’t know. People always ask us what our favourite songs to play are but everything we do is great. For every ‘Stay Together For The Kids’ there is a ‘Damnit’ – we like what we like, I just don’t know.”

PAUL: “Was there a specific reason why you waited three years to come back to the UK?”
TOM: “There was no reason, we love the UK. We are not the biggest fans of some of the other countries but the UK and the US, the culture and the language, as far as we are concerned England is part of the US. I had back surgery and that was the most painful year of my life. The six months recuperating was awful, I was on five different types of medication just to live day to day. It was the time when I wrote the Box Car Racer record and the reason why it is about pain and death and shit. But we love going to England. My favourite hotel is there, it’s just killer.”

PAUL: “Finally, here is your chance to sell the new record. Why is it vital that we go out on the first day of release and pick it up?”
TOM: “I think the one reason to buy it, if any, is that we are one of the few bands of this time that has spent so much time making a record which is meant to be listened from the beginning to the end in one go. It is a complete album, the best we could be. Some bands care about one or two songs but we put in the effort to make a piece of art.”

PAUL: “Thanks a lot Tom, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.”
TOM: “Thank you Paul and I just want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about the new record. We love England and we cannot wait to come back. We just cannot wait for this record to come out. People should put it on, pull the curtains, light some candles and smoke some weed and listen.”

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