At the end of the 20th century, after centuries of major philosophical movements and questions posed to the universe (note, particularly, existentialism), came a band of three guys who filmed a music video completely naked and begged the question, “What’s my age again?” In an era of music dominated by boy bands and cheesy love songs, they were a punch in the face—but also one of the most relieving punches in the face you’ve ever received. They were Blink 182 and they didn’t give a shit how old you thought they were.
The band, consisting of Mark Hoppus (bass and vocals), Tom DeLonge (guitar and vocals), and Travis Barker (drums), had continued success through the beginning of the new millennium, until 2005 when DeLonge left the band on an indefinite hiatus. He went on to form Angels & Airwaves, and achieved moderate success with it, while Hoppus and Barker kept playing music together in their own band, +44.
Although 2005 marked an end to Blink for fans, it was the beginning of a new era for Hoppus. Along with +44, he remained busy with other projects, producing albums for New Found Glory, The Matches, Socratic, Motion City Soundtrack, and writing songs for Less Than Jake and MXPX. This may seem like an odd move for someone who was very successful at creating his own music, but for Hoppus it’s a passion. “I enjoy finding bands that have a lot of talent and helping them direct their music in the best way I can. I love being in studio, having an idea and being able to evolve their idea. The moment an idea they had becomes an actual song—that’s an amazing thing to witness.” There is never an issue of competition, either. “Music is music, bands don’t compete with each other. They inspire one another.” An easy thing to say when you’ve made it to the top.
But Hoppus wasn’t always in this position. His career as a musician began at the age of fifteen when his father gave him his first bass. He wasn’t given an amplifier, so he painted his father’s garage to make enough money to purchase one. From there he learned to play on his own, matching bass lines from songs by the Descendents, The Cure, and Bad Religion. Eventually he became good enough to play with some friends in a band called Pier 69.
After a winding road that led him to Washington D.C. and then back to California for college, Hoppus met Tom DeLonge and formed a new band called Blink with drummer Scott Raynor. Threatened with legal action from an Irish pop band of the same name, Hoppus, Delonge and Raynor were forced to change their name, adding the “182” that would later be synonymous with the group.
By 1992, Blink 182 had begun to take off, being signed to Cargo Records and releasing their first album, Cheshire Cat, to moderate success. Although he was still in college, and had the intentions of becoming an English teacher, Hoppus decided to drop out and pursue a career in music. His father, who designed missiles for the Department of Defense, did not approve of this move. But Hoppus was certain of his decision. Music was his passion.
Now, almost twenty years and 25 million albums sold later (with Blink 182 alone), Hoppus stands at a new crossroads. In 2009 after four years of being apart he, DeLonge, and Barker (who replaced Raynor in 1998, due to complications with alcoholism) announced that Blink 182 would be reuniting. For many, this was a surprise move, especially with his success as a producer. It’s not an easy thing being dedicated to work in the studio and on stage. But Hoppus responds, “It’s a balance between the two, but first comes being in a band and playing our songs on stage.” He’s certainly had plenty of time to do this as the boys of Blink spent the Summer touring a bit, but also in the studio, working on a new album. No release date has been set, but it is highly anticipated. Hoppus claims that it will be different than past music they have put out, but better. “We all had time to do our own thing, work on our own projects to bring us back together as a better band.”
As if that’s not enough, Hoppus will also be hosting a new TV show on Fuse this fall titled A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus. With co-host comedienne Amy Schumer (“Last Comic Standing”), he will examine the music world, ponder trends within it, interview musicians and argue over things like how to pronounce the dollar sign in Ke$ha. The show will be a perfect venue for Hoppus to showcase his eclectic interest in music (which spans from the Beach Boys to Kanye West), as well as his quick-witted humor that was often evident in his music and live performances. Schumer will only add to the wit, as she is one of the hottest rising comics in the industry right now, just coming off starring opposite Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. But she’ll provide more than just jokes. “I’m a huge music fan,” says Schumer. “I came from a very musical family. My brother is a jazz musician. My grandpa’s a trumpet player. My dad’s a pianist. And I have my—favorite bands range from Wu-Tang Clan to Ani DiFranco…I live in New York. I grew up there. So all the fun, new bands that come out of Brooklyn—I love XX and the Sleigh Bells. So my musical tastes are all across the spectrum.”
As for Hoppus’ adeptness at hosting, Schumer believes he’s going to do an outstanding job. “I think his—aside from being really funny and knowledgeable, he’s so humble, and he has such a great sense of humor, and he’s not afraid of honesty…He loves what he does. He’s proud of the work he’s produced, and he’s genuinely interested in new artists and music. He’s so passionate about it. I think he’s perfect.”
Some might think it’s odd that Hoppus is branching out into television, especially after rising to the top of the music industry and reuniting with DeLonge and Barker. But for him, it’s an exciting move, primarily because he’s not sure if he’s actually made it to the top already. “Every step feels like the best thing. From our (Blink 182’s) first club date where we felt like we were on top of the world, when we finished our first album, when we got signed to our label, to our first platinum record, I’m always surprised at what we’ve achieved and I’m humbled. I truly hope that I haven’t reached my greatest achievement yet.”
Yes, Hoppus knows what it means to be big time. But, for him, it’s “all the small things” that matter.
DIFFERENT SPIN WITH MARK HOPPUS premieres Thursday, September 16 at 7/6c on Fuse.