Fresh off a Hawaiian tour with punk veterans 7 Seconds, Blink 182's teenage singer-guitarist Tom Delonge tells Truepunk that though shalt not commit adulthood. Interviews by Steve Tauschke with Tom Delonge.
It must be a pleasure to play with 7 Seconds?
"Totally! Their music has changed because they've been around for like 10 years but they're an old school punk band with the fast beat and a lot of yelling. But this guy didn't scream, he's got a clean voice and a lot of political lyrics about attitudes and racism and stuff. Nowadays there's more melody too, they kind of sound like Rancid with melodic vocals. A good band, an awesome band and after meeting them anyone will tell you the same thing, you like 'em even more knowing them as people. They're just the coolest guys in the world. I honestly got goose bumps watching them play their old songs every single night."
You guys obviously take your 'I don't wanna grow up' manifesto from Descendents.
"Descendents are our favorite band in the world. They're just the number one Blink influence but as much as they're our biggest influence every band is going to have its influences in their lyrics and music. But it's just how immature we are as people that we have all the stupid jokes and stuff. It's not so much from the Descendents as much as it's just that we haven't grown up yet. We're still trying to act young and not grow into the mature adult stage where everyone gets boring."
You've covered the important issues such as bad breath and fast food at least!
"There are so many punk bands out there trying to get their message out, not that that's bad at all but we don't have a message and we're kind of sick of hearing about it."
The Vandals songs Soup Of the Day comments on media-generated disposability of bands .. but I suppose that's happening everywhere, not just southern California.
"Totally. I find it happening more on the level of the big bands because you'll see a band get up and sell five, six million albums and their next album comes out and no-one likes them anymore because all the kids have moved on. But when I heard that song I took it on a larger level. I think if you're a punk band at our level out of southern California, or anywhere at this point, it's not so much about picking them up and dropping them until the point where they become fairly large. The kids are pretty loyal down here I find until you get to the level of say Pennywise or larger. Pennywise pretty much has a new set of fans compared to when they first started."
You're under their wing on this month's tour right?
"We actually went up to Alaska and played with them up there for an extreme snowboarding contest. They know us pretty well because their guitarist Fletcher, this big huge guy, broke into our room and squirted Tabasco sauce in our eyes and tried to shock us with his surfboard leash that he had hooked up to an electrical outlet. He gives younger bands things called 'treatments'. He gets insanely drunk and tries to kill 'em - all in good fun I guess!"
Nine months later … 1996 with Tom Delonge.
When we spoke last year you were doing mostly supports, Pennywise, etc .. how are you finding the headline tours these days?
"Some radio stuff has happened and since our labels been working harder our album's been moving a lot faster than before, a lot faster by far."
So why do you think your sound is so attractive to US radio right now?
"Well, we've had some but it's so competitive here. It's so involved. We've been working on a couple of different stations real hard for the past three weeks. But we don't really know about that, we just play. We have other people to take care of it for us. But a lot of punk bands in the States don't try to be punk and don't want to be on the radio because here, if you're on the radio, people have a tendency not to like you so you may lose the audience you've generated. We've had some radio here in California but we haven't gone for a full scale attack. We're on an independent label (Grilled Cheese) so it's harder to get on the radio than if you're with a major label."
Does it concern you that the punk-pop thing could be out of vogue soon, that the kids will move onto something else?
"Well, that's kind of what we're hoping for. But the level we're at now is the most crucial level and we've got a lot of fan mail from people asking if we've sold out, haha! But the vast majority of people who hear you on the radio don't care if you're getting airplay or not."
Sounds like there's a real stigma surrounding radio?
"You have no idea how bad it is! From our position, there are so many bands exactly like us, you know, punk bands who go rampaging on about how bad radio is or how fucked MTV is or whatever. We assume the punk scene is a place where kids want to be different and do their own thing and yet as soon as punk band gets on the radio the fanzines will say these bands are selling out just to get the money.
"But as a punk band we want to move on with our career and sell as many albums as we can but that's the problem. When punk first started no-one cared about selling albums or being on the radio and all of a sudden it's about how to be politically correct and being true to your fans which is not the true punk philosophy. We don't really care so long as people like us for our music."