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A Brief History of... Blink 182

A look back at the San Diego pop-punk kings' colourful career

Given the fact that there was a point in the mid-2000s where we thought that Blink 182 was over forever, we couldn’t be more excited about the band’s two Brixton Academy shows this week, as well as their upcoming headlining spots at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, later in the month. In honour of the trio’s approaching arrival then, let’s take a look back on Blink 182’s most career-defining moments...

1994 had been a monumental year for Californian pop punk, thanks to Green Day’s Dookie, NOFX’s Punk in Drublic and Offspring’s Smash, as well as a host of other album releases that took pop-punk out of the underground and raised its profile considerably. When Blink 182 released Cheshire Cat in 1995, they were treated with trepidation by a number of scene kids who feared they were bandwagon jumpers, too juvenile and just not authentically gritty enough – which is reasonably remarkable given the sloppy, under-produced nature of the record. Not that it mattered – Blink’s debut found the trio a solid fan base, thanks to some of the catchiest riffing of the entire period. First ever single M+Ms is testament to that… but the video is also a spectacular 1995 time capsule. Sweet wrap-around Oakleys, Tom DeLonge! (Also, is it just us, or does Mark Hoppus look absolutely terrified of the camera here?)

There was a three-year period between Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch, but Blink’s second full-length was light-years ahead of its predecessor. The song structures were tighter, the production was finally polished and the band had become super-confident with their dirty-mouthed, girl-obsessed joker personas. Dammit spread like a virus across American rock radio and quickly became a teen anthem, thanks to the combination of the sympathetic loser lyrics, and the excellent, memorable hook. Major record labels started to sit up and pay attention…

In 1999, having kicked their drummer out, enrolled Travis Barker and signed with MCA Records, Blink 182 released the album that made them superstars – Enema of the State. The guitars were still catchy, but any semblance of edge had gone and, musically, the pace was far less urgent. Enema... was a mainstream-ready record – something that was only propelled by a series of smart music video decisions. The cheeky naked-running-related clip for What’s My Age Again? was a music television triumph, but it was this hilarious, boy-band-skewering video for All the Small Things that really took the band to a new level. It was Blink’s first Top 20 single and won Best Group Video at 2000’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was basically a comfortable extension of the success already built by Enema Of The State – thanks to big hits like The Rock Show and First Date. But Stay Together for the Kids signalled a more serious direction for Blink – one that had initially started with Adam’s Song on Enema... The difference was, there was a rawness to Stay Together… that we’d never really heard from Blink before – thanks mostly to DeLonge’s impassioned choruses. It was the first time we realised that DeLonge had something of substance to say for himself and, ultimately, prepared us for what he’d go on to do in Angels & Airwaves.

When Blink released their self-titled album in 2003, it marked a gigantic departure for the band – one that was too drastic for some of their fans to take. First single, I Miss You was a self-consciously gothic affair with a semi-spooky video to match. Looking back on it now, Blink 182 is probably the band’s best record to date – but at the time it confused the crap out of people and was the trio’s last word before an eight-year recording break. Ultimately, it stands as a testament to just how far Blink 182 had come and just how much they had learned over the course of their career. Legitimately great.

The long-awaited follow-up to Blink 182 was 2011’s Neighborhoods – a record that managed to wrap up the sounds of all of Blink’s history (side projects included) and make all those changes and influences into one cohesive idea. Lyrically, there was a new-found maturity too, with the album dealing with losses and traumas that had befallen Hoppus, DeLonge and Barker since they’d last recorded – the darker lyrical themes are not surprising, given that the band’s decision to reunite was a direct result of horrific plane crash that almost killed Barker in 2008. Ghost on the Dancefloor is about being reminded of lost loved ones through songs that you shared together. The band are working on the follow up now...

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