Blink 182 : The Bands, The Breakdown and The Return
It must be difficult writing an in depth, intelligent book about a band that have prided themselves on having nothing in depth or intelligent to say.
Blink 182 have long split punk fans; are their guitar-powered frolics the new coming of punk, liberating and exciting their generation in the same way as the original punks did theirs? Or are they middle class Californian corporate sell outs, caring more for their endorsement deals, clothing lines and pension funds than for any subversive principles or anti establishment cause? I'd like to make a lot of money and fuck credibility, as Mark Hoppus put it; I think music and politics should be separate to use Tom DeLonge's words.
This book repeatedly returns to this question but (despite being totally 'unauthorised and unofficial') fails to take a stand on it. Perhaps this too is a nod at the demands of marketing and not wanting to offend the blink fans who this book is aimed at, or perhaps this is due to the alluring nature of the band. Who can really be mad for long at a group that brought us tracks like 'All the Small Things', 'Adam's Song' or 'Feeling This'?
And, to be fair, blink 182 fans will be very well served by all the authors painstaking and thorough hard work. Shooman deals with the rise of the band from its earliest beginnings, and his exclusive interviews with original bassist Scott Raynor help shed new light on this most interesting era. He shows how the band were able to build themselves from punk also-rans into the energetic, highly polished cash machine as represented by the breakthrough album 'Enema of the State'. He then faithfully charts how the band dealt with their new-found fame and success, both in their personal and business lives. Of course there's tragedy and splits in their story, as the rock'n'roll lifestyle took its toll, and the author faithfully chronicles the details of each band member's separate projects. However this lead me (at least) to be eager for him to return to the main act, and the book ends with the recent blink gigs as the band ended their 'indefinite hiatus' earlier this year.
Aware that blink 182 lack a lot of the punk credentials that would mark them apart from boy bands with guitars such as Busted and McFly (comparisons of course bitterly resented), Shooman is eager to emphasise the 'depth' on their later releases and details Tom Delonge's involvement with the Democrat campaigns against Bush. But, as he makes clear, these directions are not what really excites their fans, and have never had the mass resonance of Green Day's rousing 'American Idiot'. I wonder if Shooman shares my suspicions that, following them being blown off stage by Green Day on the Pop Disaster tour, blink's new interest in serious themes was at least partly influenced by commercial considerations is that what lay behind DeLonge's attempts with Angels And Airwaves to 'turn into Bono'?
However this ambitious direction was never going to be what appealed to blink's hardcore fan base: it was not what caused their rise to fame or their comeback to be such a success.
Apart from the goofing around on stage, which seems grounded in their contentious belief that punk equates with fun, skating, being 'cool', chasing girls, drinking and making nipple jokes, it's the huge tunes within the enormously memorable songs of blink 182 that have made them the supergroup they are, and this book does a sterling job of explaining, chronicling and contextualising these. It also made me go back and listen to the songs, old and newer, which (I'm not afraid to admit), I still enjoy.
Just a pity they still have nothing much to say!