Managing Expectations for Blink-182

blink_182_matt_skiba_2015

The pandemonium surrounding last week’s blink-182 news should come as no surprise. Ever since the band’s reunion announcement at the 2009 Grammys, the collective pop punk masses have awaited the moment when the band would recapture the exhilaration of their heyday. The expectations are, and always will be, unfair, but that fact has done little to stop any of us from dreaming.

To be sure, the band’s new single, “Bored to Death”, sounds like everything fans wanted from blink-182 in the first place. From the song’s opening chords to its moody, atmospheric conclusion, the track is deeply familiar while still sounding fresh and relevant. It’s an exciting time to be a blink-182 fan, but only time will tell if the payoff is everything we want it to be.

You can pre-order California here.

You can pre-order California here.

I recently revisited my very positive 2011 review of Neighborhoods, the band’s first post-hiatus release and one that carried just as many high expectations. In hindsight, I disagree with almost everything I wrote – Neighborhoods is easily the blink-182 release that I listen to the least and the one that sounds the least familiar when I give it a spin. I’ve often wondered whether album reviews should be written at least a year after the release, but I also find myself pondering the impact of nostalgic excitement that accompanies these kinds of events. Speaking strictly in terms of wistfulness and rose-colored sentimentality, blink-182 has no peer.

Not only did the band end up headlining the pop punk revolution, their ascent perfectly aligned with a generation of kids wearily dreading the next step toward adulthood. In hindsight, it’s odd that such repetitive chord progressions and obnoxiously juvenile lyrics would stand the test of time, but there’s something strangely profound in that simplicity. All these years later, there’s still meaning to be found in a line like, “I guess this is growing up”.

Given the continued turmoil that has plagued blink for over a decade, the band members have had their own experiences with the pains of maturity. It’s odd then that the most promising facet of the band’s upcoming album, California, lies in the most unexpected of places. Just over a year after a fallout with guitarist Tom Delonge left fans wondering if there was any hope remaining for blink-182, the resounding feeling is that Tom’s replacement, Matt Skiba, is the best thing that could have happened to the band. There’s finally a new energy – and it appears to be a positive one for the first time in over a decade. The lingering discomfort surrounding Neighborhoods has largely vanished, opening the door for a world of new possibilities.

Regardless, it’s fairly safe to say that we’re all aware that California won’t impact our lives in the same way Enema of the State or Dude Ranch did, but a suitable summer soundtrack would delightfully suffice. We’ll play these songs on our commute to work instead of in the hallway by our locker during lunch break. With any luck, several songs will make us chuckle and smile, serving as a welcome reprieve from the icy disposition of Neighborhoods. Whatever we get, we’ll savor it in the moment, and that will be enough.

I guess my point is, I know well enough to approach this album with restraint and caution, dispelling any excitement with levelheaded truths from past experiences. But I know myself too well. In the weeks leading up to July 1, anticipation will take hold and my expectations will rise. I may even write a glowing review that I’ll regret years later. That’s part of the experience. Our nostalgia-driven view of blink-182 requires us to live in the moment, no matter the outcome. And that we shall do.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Blink-182 Announce New Album “California”

blink_182_matt_skiba_2015

Woah.

What started as a leaked song earlier this afternoon has erupted into a deluge of huge announcements from blink-182. Where to begin? First, the band has released a new single titled “Bored to Death”, which can be heard below. In addition, blink-182 will be releasing their new album California on July 1 and embarking on a massive summer tour featuring the likes of A Day to Remember, All Time Low and The All-American Rejects. Got all that? Let’s break it down…

Stream “Bored to Death”:

California track listing:

1. Cynical
2. Bored To Death
3. She’s Out Of Her Mind
4. Los Angeles
5. Sober
6. Built This Pool
7. No Future
8. Home Is Such A Lonely Place
9. Kings of the Weekend
10. Teenage Satellites
11. Left Alone
12. Rabbit Hole
13. San Diego
14. The Only Thing That Matters
15. California
16. Brohemian Rhapsody

Tour dates:

tour

Phew! Share your thoughts (and excitement) in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2016: #1 The Rebirth of Blink-182

blink_182_matt_skiba_2015

The Rock Show

This has been the talk of the pop punk world for over a year at this point. We’ve heard rumors of a new Blink-182 record almost every year for half a decade, with only one LP and an EP to show for it. But this is a new Blink-182, and they’re just as anxious as we are.

It actually feels like it’s happening this time. Ever since the departure of Tom DeLonge last year and the addition of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba as guitarist, the band has been active and vocal, with updates every couple of months in regards to songwriting for the new album. It’s been way too long since we’ve heard anything from Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, and from the interviews over the last year, they sound more energized and enthusiastic about what comes next for Blink than they have for years.

It really is impossible to know what to expect from this new form of Blink-182. Will it be the polished, mature and artsy pop punk of the last few albums? Will it be a return of the ungodly catchy skate punk and dick jokes that launched the pop punk age of the early 2000s? Or will it be something else entirely, since we’re dealing with a new Blink-182?

The only thing standing in the way is expectation. New Blink-182 music has been perched high among the most anticipated lists every year since 2009, with very little to show for it. Blink-182 is beloved. Fans have had their hopes raised before only to be disappointed. But this time, we know it’s on the way. This is arguably the most anticipated pop punk event of the decade, and there are many, many ways that it won’t live up to the expectations thrust upon it (Neighborhoods, anyone?).

But we haven’t seen Blink-182 this excited to be making music since Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker are excited. Matt Skiba is excited. And each musician has very, very rarely put out anything disappointing, regardless of project.

Whatever the outcome, this does feel like the year of Blink-182’s rebirth. With a new album, a tour is undoubtedly to follow, hopefully carrying the same energy required to put the album together. With the tumultuous path Blink-182 has tread over the last decade, seeing the trio with a newfound spirit is sure to the biggest event in punk rock this year.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was introduced to pop punk by Blink-182. No matter what, new Blink-182 is a much needed prospect.

Blink-182 Record Five New Songs

blink_182_matt_skiba_2015

In a recent interview with NME, blink-182 drummer Travis Barker revealed that the band have recorded five new songs with guitarist Matt Skiba, including a track titled “Punk Rock Cliché”. In the interview, Barker shares about Skiba’s influence on the band’s music:

“Obviously, it’s Matt Skiba singing so there’s hints of Alkaline Trio, or at least Matt’s contributions to Alkaline Trio, mixed with my drumming and Mark’s voice and stuff. It’s really cool and I really love what we’ve done so far.”

You can read the full article at NME. What are your expectations for the next blink-182 record? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The Beautiful Evolution of The Fratellis

the_fratellisSeeing as how the Chicago Blackhawks just won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years, “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis is going to be played religiously across the city like a wind storm. And for good reason.

Aside from arguably being the best and most recognizable song in the band’s catalog, it’s a reminder that Scottish indie rock magicians The Fratellis have the ability to utterly dominate with their music, captivating a city as one unit in the opening chant to “Chelsea” at every goal. With a new album, Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied announced just weeks ago, it’s a good time to remind you why this is something to be excited about.

The Fratellis are a weird bag, as they don’t fit in any scene. The best description is that of being a mixture between the high energy and funk of Franz Ferdinand and the engaging experimental subtleties of Brand New. A fan of any genre of music will find something that they love within just a few songs of any album; The raw, explosive energy of any song from Costello Music, the acoustic ballads (complete with mandolin on at least one occasion), the unabashed love letter to rock from Here We Stand, or the intricate tongue-in-cheek storytelling lyrics that follow characters from song to song across most albums. Every song is unique and oozing enough Brit pop to make Noel Gallagher vomit in the garden.

What sets The Fratellis apart is something that few bands can truly accomplish but most envy: evolution. Their first album, Costello Music made such a name for them with loud, unseemly intricate guitar rock, highly memorable choruses and riffs designed specifically to make rooms of people in pubs sing along word for word. The problem is that most people simply stopped following them afterwards, thinking that nothing could top it. Instead of simply making the same record twice, their sound has continuously evolved towards a bluesified version of their iconic energy, grabbing different ideas from every corner around them.

Jon Fratelli’s side project, Codeine Velvet Club, took the rampaging guitars and melody of Costello Music and added jazz elements and a horn section, along with the seductively feminine, smokey ‘fifties’ vocals of Lou Hickey, while his solo material focused on lower production and the thundering rampage of two drummers. When The Fratellis reunited soon afterward, their followup album, We Need Medicine incorporated these ideas back into the three man unit and pushed them even further.

Their reunion record wasn’t so much a reformulation of their past material like so many other bands, but instead was an accumulation of everything that had come before it. The band has never cut corners when it comes to evolving as artists, despite making their name with a specific sound.

Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied has only one song out so far, and it is vastly different, yet again, from anything that has come before it. “Me and The Devil”, the first single from the new album, is driven by piano, heavy drums, subtle bass and even subtler guitar. Even compared to the band’s previous endeavors, it’s out there.

Jon’s vocals are mellowed, smooth, and surrealistically channeling Death Cab For Cutie. It’s nothing that you’d expect from them, but it romances you into a serenity while listening. While there’s no definitive idea of what the album will sound like, it’s exciting to know that it won’t be a repeat of anything they’ve done so far.

The Fratellis are a band that literally everyone should be paying attention to. Sooner or later, one of their songs will be perfectly suited just for you. Each album is an evolution in a continuing story of music so genuine, it’s hard to tell if anyone else out there is trying to keep up with them.

Tonight, and even tomorrow, let “Chelsea Dagger” play on repeat for hours on end. But if you take your finger off of the ‘repeat’ button for even one song, you’ll be glad you did.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and fell in love with the Blackhawks partially because “Chelsea Dagger” was their theme song. He’s followed The Fratellis since 2006 and obsesses over every line of every album, year after year like a zilch.

Review: Tom Delonge – To the Stars…Demos, Odds & Ends

Tom_DeLonge_-_To_The_Stars

Tom DeLonge’s first official solo album is a mix of nostalgia, sweepingly memorable choruses, and the mourning of what could have been. While there are definitely songs that were meant for Blink-182, To the Stars isn’t what people probably expect it to be. These are songs that weren’t ready to be released and rushed out after the news that Tom was no longer a part of Blink. When or if they’d have actually been released is up for debate, but for a release that was, for all intents and purposes, slapped together in two months, To the Stars is one of the better releases Tom DeLonge has put out in a while.

I really like Angels & Airwaves, but those albums have a tendency to start sounding similar to me after a while. I struggle to find great differences between them. To the Stars throws Tom back into a raw pop punk mode that we haven’t really seen since Boxcar Racer. While some songs definitely sound like Blink demos, the overarching sound is much more a sweet mixture of every project Tom has been a part of.

Songs like “An Endless Summer” are immediate Blink-182 songs that fall somewhere between Neighborhoods and Take Off Your Pants. “Suburban Kings” is a poppier version of a Boxcar Racer track while “Animals” is a close blending of the other two with the cosmic synth of Angels & Airwaves. To call the album “Blink demos” would be only half-true and undercutting most of the other tracks. This is the music of Tom DeLonge more than it is the tracks of any one band.

That said, I don’t think these are the ‘instant single Blink-182 songs of old’ material. They’re very good songs and it gives me hope for Tom’s ambitious plan to release five albums this year, but there is a polish that hasn’t made its way in yet.

One thing that stood out though, is that some of the more guitar focused songs are written with ‘classic Tom’ in clear focus. When the opening riff to “Golden Showers in the Golden State” started up, I was suddenly transported back to being 15 and losing my goddamned mind listening to Enema of the State. “New World” is a very Neighborhoods-esque song that you can just see Mark and Travis jamming to.

Not everything is amazing though. “The Invisible Parade” is catchy, but overall sounds lazy compared to some of the other great acoustic tracks Tom has written. One of the double-edged swords is the return to a sense of frat humor. It was a staple to Blink, and even Tom in general for so long. “Golden Showers in the Golden State” is immediately one of my favorite songs he’s put out in the last few years, but it feels like the humor was forced instead of being a natural element of having fun. “You can take a dump on my chest if it’s okay / Just don’t piss in someone’s mouth when you’re away”. I’m still not entirely sure what to think of it, considering a certain song called “Fuck a Dog” is still one of my favorites, but I welcome it nonetheless.

To the Stars did what it was meant to – show that Tom was in fact working on Blink-182 material. Honestly, it probably would have led to one of their better albums, and maybe even a return to form of sorts. But with so many elements showing up throughout the short set of eight songs, it is clear that Tom’s ambitions have outstretched beyond focusing intently on one project or another.

There’s a healthy blend of bands bleeding into each other seamlessly, for better or worse. What I really took from To the Stars is that Tom DeLonge can put out a hell of a solo album in just two months, and I hope more of his projects become intertwined throughout a single song. It feels like a long lost friend has finally shown up again.

3.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is in love with music partially because of Tom DeLonge and his catchy lil’ songs.

It’s All Dead Podcast Episode: 011 – Long Live Blink-182

IAD_Podcast_Image

This week has been a rough one for blink-182 fans – the public bickering between Tom Delonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker has been hard to watch. What does the future hold for one of the scene’s flagship bands? Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz discuss the fallout and talk about the possible future for the band and its members. They also break down their favorite blink-182 albums, songs and memories. Listen in!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/itsalldead/IAD_Podcast_011_mixdown.mp3|titles=It’s All Dead podcast episode: 011]

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Man Overboard – Why the Best of Blink-182 May Be On Its Way

blink_182

Let’s face it – it’s been a rough week. The news of Tom DeLonge’s ejection from Blink-182 hit everyone as an absolute shock, and no one apparently more than Tom himself. More bits of information are coming out every day, and at the moment, it’s turning into a ‘he said she said’ situation with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker giving us glimpses into the decision, and Tom responding in weird ways that display his disbelief at the announcement.

This is big. One thing to come out of this is that the fans of one of the most beloved pop punk bands in history are losing their goddamned minds. From the social media posts I’ve seen, supporters of Tom suggest that Blink-182 should call it quits, as it just won’t be the same without him. Supporters of Mark and Travis seem to think that this is how it should be and are more or less attacking and blaming Tom entirely for the trouble.

But I don’t think it will all be bad.

Right now, it sucks. It’s going to be a terrible spectacle for a while, but it will start to turn around. It’s a lot like a divorce in that it’s just a mess right now, but give it a year and everyone will be doing okay – perhaps even better. Mark and Travis claimed that they believe Tom didn’t want to be a part of Blink-182 and seemed disinterested. I tend to agree with this because of one fact: I’ve seen them play live a few times since their reunion.

I can’t speak for how Tom acted in the band’s prime or for every show after their reunion. But I did see them in Indianapolis on their initial reunion tour and at Riot Fest two years ago. Mark and Travis nearly burst with energy on the stage, especially Mark as he skipped from end to end. Tom stood motionless for most of the show and repeatedly forgot lyrics and messed up playing the guitar. Even at Riot Fest, three years after the first time I’d seen them, he still played messily.

From the interviews given, Mark and Travis seem to be desperate to play and write more material for Blink-182. Unlike Tom, this is their main project and it seems apparent that they’re ready to go. If you’ve ever had a friend that you find yourself constantly having to appease in order to do anything, you can understand that dilemma on Mark and Travis’s side and how liberating it is to finally be free of that baggage. This is one of the things that I feel validates their arguments.

Everyone loves Blink-182. Their music is a staple to the pop punk genre, but Tom DeLonge doesn’t really play that style of music anymore. Angels & Airwaves is vastly different, his writing has drifted away from the genre to the point that even the last Blink-182 album sounded more like a modded Angels & Airwaves album. I’ve always felt that Tom is like a George Lucas figure; he helped create something amazing, but maybe he can’t see it for what it is anymore. After all, they are men in their forties playing songs to teens.

Bringing in Matt Skiba is a good start. Even if he isn’t a permanent member, having new blood will give a boost to the band. Everyone who plays pop punk dreams of being Blink-182. If every new album or tour features a new guitarist, or if Skiba becomes a permanent member, there’s a chance that they know how to play and write a Blink-182 song better than the actual band members.

Bands have long survived losing their main songwriters and singers. AC/DC survived Bon Scott, AFI survived replacing Mark Stopholese with Jade Puget, and New Found Glory have survived the departure of Steve Klein. It’s not the same, but it’s the type of thing to jump start a band who has seemed stunted even though they reformed six years ago.

Maybe it won’t be what the band was in their heyday, but if legends like Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker can’t bring the most out of a new guitarist, absolutely nothing will. Blink-182’s sound has been shifting since their Self-Titled in 2003, so a new guitarist’s style won’t be too much of a departure. Since Mark wrote a good amount of Blink’s back catalogue (“What’s My Age Again?”, “The Rock Show”, “Adam’s Song”), it’s not as if the entire writing chops of the band are gone. Some of the humor might even start to find its way back. It’s what the band needs after all of this.

While I hate that Tom wouldn’t be a part of it, it’s not like he’s down and out by any means. From an outside perspective, it has always seemed like he’s put much more attention towards Angels & Airwaves than Blink-182. Without the pressure of having to collaborate and write Blink on the side, A&A only stands to benefit from not having to split the attention. It’s horrible that he’s gone, but it might just be what he’s always wanted, since so much of his time has been exploring other mediums of art and new musical genres.

If anything, the worst aspect of this is that Tom has a lengthy history of being hard to work with and the method of delivery for the news really gave him the shaft. He’s definitely correct in that “there’s more to the story,” but he may have been too distracted by so many projects to see the trouble brewing. I doubt we’ll ever get to hear the full story behind everything, which directly blames Tom for the issues within the band. While I doubt this to be completely true, it does mirror a lot of the well known things that broke the band up in 2005.

This is all speculation, but I’m not worried. We’ve always known the inner Blink circle to be ‘dysfunctional,’ so I’m not too shocked by this week’s developments. I’m excited to see what both parties do artistically from here on out. Blink-182 are a foundation, and the next phase of their career is about to take a weird turn. Angels & Airwaves are a good band, and now there is a total freedom that Tom hasn’t had since his second album. It’s exciting and honest. If they can avoid writing songs bashing each other (such as +44’s “No, It Isn’t”), there’s a good chance we’re in for some incredibly exciting music in the next year or so.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge Speak Their Minds on blink-182

blink_182

Everything seemed quiet on the blink-182 front today until more words were spilled late in the day. Mark Hoppus took part in an interview with Alternative Press and seemed to clarify that the band will be moving forward without Tom Delonge. Whether that means Matt Skiba will serve as a long-term replacement remains to be seen. You can read a clip of the interview below:

The thing is we’ve tried to get Tom to engage [in Blink activity], and everything has been a very, very difficult struggle to get anything done with Blink for the last two years. Everything from getting a label deal done to even playing shows, and trying to get Tom into a studio. We’ve been trying that for the past two years. The ideal situation was two years ago when we said we were going to go into a studio and get working and it never happened. I think those days and that wishful thinking are gone.

Also this evening, Delonge posted a long explanation of his side of the story to his Facebook page. Below is an excerpt:

And even as I watch them act so different to what I know of them to be, I still care deeply for them. Like brothers, and like old friends. But our relationship got poisoned yesterday.

Never planned on quitting, just find it hard as hell to commit.

The past two days have been revealing in many ways, but also painful for the band and their fans. Coming later this week, we’ll talk about this week’s events on the official It’s All Dead Podcast and reflect on our favorite blink-182 songs, albums and moments.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker Open up about Tom Delonge and Address the Future of Blink-182

blink_182

Rolling Stone spoke with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker about the situation with Tom Delonge and his status as a member of blink-182. It seems clear from the interview that Delonge is out. Below is a quote from Barker:

I think he’s just bummed because Mark and I were finally honest. We always covered up for him before. It was always, “We’re going to record an album,” then “Tom refuses to get into the studio without a record deal.” So everyone does hella amounts of work to get a record deal and now Tom isn’t part of Blink-182. It’s hard to cover for someone who’s disrespectful and ungrateful. You don’t even have the balls to call your bandmates and tell them you’re not going to record or do anything Blink-related. You have your manager do it. Everyone should know what the story is with him and it’s been years with it.

Today’s events have been quite confusing for blink fans, leaving everyone wondering what in the hell was going on. This evening’s interview seems to clear the air to some extent – Tom Delonge is no longer a part of blink-182 and the long-term future of the band as we know it may be in serious question.

What are your thoughts on today’s events? Let us know in the replies.

Posted by Kiel Hauck