Formation and early years (1992–1994)
Blink-182 was formed in Poway, California, a suburb outside of San Diego, in August 1992. Guitarist Tom DeLonge was expelled from Poway High for attending a basketball game drunk and was forced to attend another local school for one semester. At Rancho Bernardo High School, DeLonge performed at a Battle of the Bands competition, where he was introduced to drummer Scott Raynor. He also befriended Kerry Key, who too was interested in punk music. Key's girlfriend, Anne Hoppus, introduced her brother, bassist Mark Hoppus—who had recently moved from Ridgecrest to work at a record store and attend college—to DeLonge on August 1, 1992. The two clicked instantly and played for hours in DeLonge's garage, exchanging lyrics and co-writing songs—one of which became "Carousel". Hoppus, in trying to impress Delonge, managed to fall from a lamppost in front of DeLonge's garage and crack his ankles, an injury that put him in crutches for three weeks.
"We had a lot of fuckin' fun. We were out all night skateboarding. We were out throwing food and drinks at security guards who were chasing us through malls, skateboarding at four in the morning, eating doughnuts at places making hot doughnuts near the beach, breaking into schools and finding skate spots in dark schools or slaloming down parking garages naked and shit in downtown San Diego."
—Tom DeLonge in 2013, reflecting on the band's foundation
The trio began to practice together in Raynor's bedroom, spending hours together writing music, attending punk shows and movies, and playing practical jokes. Hoppus and DeLonge would alternate singing vocal parts. The trio first operated under a variety of names, including Duck Tape and Figure 8, until DeLonge rechristened the band "Blink". Hoppus' girlfriend was angered by her boyfriend's constant attention to the band, and demanded he make a choice between the band and her, which resulted in Hoppus leaving the band shortly after formation. Shortly thereafter, DeLonge and Raynor borrowed a four-track recorder from friend and collaborator Cam Jones and were preparing to record a demo tape, with Jones on bass. Hoppus promptly broke up with his girlfriend and returned to the band. Flyswatter—a combination of original songs and punk covers—was recorded in Raynor's bedroom in May 1993. Southern California had a large punk population in the early 1990s, aided by an avid surfing, skating, and snowboarding scene. In contrast to East Coast punk music, the West Coast wave of groups, Blink included, typically introduced more melodic aspects to the group's music. "New York is gloomy, dark and cold. It makes different music. The Californian middle-class suburbs have nothing to be that bummed about," said DeLonge. San Diego at this time was "hardly a hotbed of [musical] activity", but the band's popularity grew as did California punk rock concurrently in the mainstream. DeLonge called clubs constantly in San Diego asking for a spot to play, as well as calling up local high schools, convincing them that Blink was a "motivational band with a strong antidrug message" in hopes to play at an assembly or lunch.
The band became a mainstay at all-ages venue Soma San Diego
during their early years; this poster is from 1994.
The band was on stage nearly every weekend, even at Elks Lodges and YMCA centers. The band soon became part of a circuit that also included the likes of and Unwritten Law, and the band found its way onto the bill as the opening band for local acts at Soma, a local all-ages venue located on Market Street which the band longed to headline. Big-name acts such as NOFX and Green Day played on the main floor, while smaller acts were relegated to the basement, an area referred to as "the Dungeon". The original location closed its doors and relocated before the band would be promoted to the main stage (which required a 100+ crowd to attend). "Soma was like home away from home. All the punk kids who didn’t give a fuck about football games and proms or whatever came to hang out at Soma," claimed Hoppus. The band's first big show on the main floor took place on a Thursday, where the band opened for Face to Face. Hoppus' manager at the record store, Patrick Secor, fronted him the money to properly record another demo at local studio Doubletime. The result was Buddha (1994), which the members of the band viewed as the band's first legitimate release. By this time, the group had branched out to venues such as the Soul Kitchen in El Cajon, but Raynor's family relocated to Reno, Nevada, and he was briefly replaced by musician Mike Krull. The band saved money and began flying Raynor out to shows, but eventually Raynor moved in with Hoppus for a summer in which the band would record its first album and music video and gain even more exposure.
Early releases and touring (1994–1998)
The heart of the local independent music scene was Cargo Records, which offered to sign the band on a "trial basis," with help from O, guitarist for local punk band Fluf, and Brahm Goodis, friend of the band whose father was president of the label. Hoppus was the only member to sign the contract, as DeLonge was at work at the time and Raynor was still a minor. The band recorded its debut album in three days at Westbeach Recorders in Los Angeles, fueled by both new songs and re-recordings of songs from previous demos. Although Cheshire Cat, released in February 1995, made very little impact commercially, it is cited by fans and musicians as an iconic release. "M+M's", the band's first single, garnered local radio airplay from 91X and Cargo offered the band a small budget to film a music video for it. Meanwhile, the record also drew the attention of Irish band Blink. Unwilling to engage in a legal battle, the band agreed to change its name. Cargo gave the band a week, but the trio put off the decision for more than two afterward. Eventually, Cargo called Blink-182, demanding that the band "change the name or [we'll] change it for you," after which the band decided on a random number, 182.
The band soon had a manager, Rick DeVoe, who associated with larger bands such as NOFX, Pennywise and The Offspring. In addition, the band crucially drew the attention of Rick and Jean Bonde of the Tahoe booking agency, who were responsible for "spreading the name of the band far and wide and getting the group as many gigs as humanly possible." Surf film director Taylor Steele, friend of DeVoe, was preparing a national tour to promote his new surf video GoodTimes, and the band signed on for its first national tour, which extended as far as the East Coast. The band members purchased their own tour van and embarked on the GoodTimes tour with Unwritten Law, Sprung Monkey and 7 Seconds. The GoodTimes tour continued and the band was whisked away to Australia, with Pennywise paying for the band's plane tickets. Fletcher Dragge, guitarist of Pennywise, believed in the band strongly. He demanded Kevin Lyman, founder of the Warped Tour, sign the band for the 1996 festival, telling him that "they're gonna be gigantic." Australia was very receptive to the band and its humorous stage shows and pranks gained them a reputation, but also made them ostracized and considered a joke.
By March 1996, the trio began to accumulate a genuine buzz among major labels, resulting in a bidding war between Interscope, MCA and Epitaph. MCA promised the group complete artistic freedom and eventually signed the band, but Raynor held a great affinity for Epitaph and began to feel half-invested in the band when it passed over the label. The group, who were wary of purists attempting to define "punk" and discouraged by Cargo's lack of distribution and faith in the group, had no qualms about signing to a major label but were fiercely criticized in the punk community. After nonstop touring, the trio began recording their follow-up, Dude Ranch, over the period of a month in late 1996. The record hit stores the following summer and the band headed out on the 1997 Warped Tour. "Dammit", the album's lead single, received heavy airplay on modern rock stations. Dude Ranch shipped gold by 1998, but an exhaustive touring schedule brought tensions among the trio. Raynor had been drinking heavily to offset personal issues, and he was fired by DeLonge and Hoppus in mid-1998 despite agreeing to attend rehab and quit drinking. Travis Barker, drummer for tour-mate The Aquabats, filled in for Raynor, learning the 20-song setlist in 45 minutes before the first show. By July, he joined the band full-time and the band entered the studio with producer Jerry Finn later that year to begin work on their third album.
Mainstream breakthrough and continued success (1999–2004)
The music video for "What's My Age Again?" depicts the band running naked through the streets of Los Angeles
With the release of the group's third album Enema of the State in June 1999, Blink-182 was catapulted to stardom and became the biggest pop punk act of the era. Three singles were released from the record—"What's My Age Again?", "All the Small Things", and "Adam's Song"—which became major radio hits and MTV staples. "All the Small Things" became a number-one hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, but also became a crossover hit and peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Its video parodied boy bands and pop music videos and won Best Group Video at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. Although the band was criticized as synthesized, manufactured pop only remotely resembling punk and pigeonholed as a joke act due to the puerile slant of its singles and associating music videos, Enema of the State was an enormous commercial success. The album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and had a considerable effect on pop punk music, inspiring a "second wave" of the genre and numerous acolytes.
After multi-platinum success, arena tours, and cameo appearances (American Pie), the band recorded Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001), which debuted at number one in the United States, Canada, and Germany. Hit singles "The Rock Show","Stay Together for the Kids" and "First Date" continued the band's mainstream success worldwide, with MTV cementing its image as video stars. Finn returned to produce the record and was a key architect of the "polished" pop punk sound, and he served as an invaluable member of the band: part adviser, part impartial observer, he helped smooth out tensions and hone their sound. Recording sessions were sometimes contentious, as DeLonge strove for heavier and dirtier guitar-driven rock. With time off from touring, he felt an "itch to do something where he didn't feel locked in to what Blink was," and channeled his chronic back pain and resulting frustration into Box Car Racer (2002), a post-hardcore disc that further explores his Fugazi and Refused inspiration. Refraining from paying for a studio drummer, he invited Barker to record drums on the project and Hoppus felt betrayed. The event caused great division within the trio for some time and was an unresolved tension at the forefront of the band's later hiatus. Barker also explored hip-hop influences and teamed up with Rancid's Tim Armstrong to form the rap rock band Transplants.
The band regrouped in 2003 to record its fifth studio album, infusing experimentalist elements into its usual pop punk sound, inspired by lifestyle changes (the band members all became fathers before the album was released) and side projects. Blink's eponymous fifth studio album was released in the fall of 2003 through Geffen Records, which absorbed sister label MCA earlier that year. The worldwide touring schedule, which saw the band travel to Japan and Australia, also found the three performing for troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. Critics generally complimented the new, more "mature" direction taken for the album and its lead singles "Feeling This" and "I Miss You" charted high, with the latter becoming the group's second number one hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Fans, however, were split by the new direction, and tensions within the band—stemming from the grueling schedule and DeLonge's desire to spend more time with his family—started to become evident.
Hiatus, side projects, and Barker's plane crash (2005–2008)
In February 2005, Geffen issued a press statement announcing the band's "indefinite hiatus." The band had broken up after members' arguments regarding their future and recording process. DeLonge felt increasingly conflicted both about his creative freedom within the group and the toll touring was taking on his family life. He eventually expressed his desire to take a half-year respite from touring in order to spend more time with family. Hoppus and Barker were dismayed by his decision, which they felt was an overly long break. The band abruptly canceled a performance at a Music for Relief benefit show after rehearsals grew more contentious. Further arguments had ensued during rehearsals, rooted in the band members' increasing paranoia and bitterness toward one another. DeLonge considered his bandmates' priorities "mad, mad different," coming to the conclusion that the trio had simply grown apart as they aged, had families, and reached fame. The breakdown in communication led to heated exchanges, resulting in his exit from the group.
In the interim, Hoppus and Barker continued playing music together in +44. The group first began to lay down electronic demos in Barker's basement and Hoppus' dining room shortly after the breakup. +44's debut, When Your Heart Stops Beating, was released the following year but stalled commercially and received mixed reviews. Barker starred in the MTV reality series Meet the Barkers with his then-wife, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler. The couple's later split, reconciliation and subsequent breakup made them tabloid favorites. Meanwhile, DeLonge disappeared from public eye, making no appearances, granting no interviews and remaining silent until September 2005, when he announced his new project, Angels & Airwaves, promising "the greatest rock and roll revolution for this generation." He later revealed he was addicted to painkillers at the time, recalling "I was losing my mind, I was on thousands of painkillers, and I almost killed myself," and did not realize that his promise of revolution sounded highly ambitious. The group released two albums in 2006 and 2007: We Don't Need to Whisper and I-Empire. During the hiatus, Hoppus shifted his attention to producing albums (most notably Commit This to Memory by former tour-mate Motion City Soundtrack) and hosting his podcast, HiMyNameisMark, while Barker launched a shoe line and worked on three other musical projects—the Transplants, +44, and TRV$DJAM, a collaboration with friend Adam Goldstein (DJ AM).
The band members did not speak from their breakup until 2008. That August, Jerry Finn suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was taken off life support. On September 19, Barker and Goldstein were involved in a plane crash that killed four people, leaving the two the only survivors. Barker sustained second and third degree burns and developed posttraumatic stress disorder, and the accident resulted in sixteen surgeries and 48-hour blood transfusions. Hoppus was alerted about Barker's accident by a phone call in the middle of the night and jumped on the next flight to the burn center. DeLonge found out via the TV news at an airport while waiting to board a flight; within minutes, he was crying in his seat. "I thought he was going to die," says DeLonge, who quickly reached out to his former bandmate, mailing him a letter and photograph. "Instantly after the plane crash, I was like, 'Hey, I want to play music with him again.'" The trio eventually met up in the hospital, laying the grounds for what was going to be the band's reunion. Eventually, an arrangement was made for the trio to meet up at Hoppus and Barker's Los Angeles studio in October 2008. The three opened up, discussing the events of the hiatus and their break-up, and DeLonge was the first to approach the subject of reuniting. Hoppus remembered: "I remember [Tom] said, 'So, what do you guys think? Where are your heads at?' And I said, 'I think we should continue with what we've been doing for the past 17 years. I think we should get back on the road and back in the studio and do what we love doing.'"
The first live performance of the group's reformation in 2009
Eventually, the band appeared for the first time on stage together in nearly five years as presenters at the February 2009 Grammy Awards, announcing their reunion. The trio embarked on a reunion tour of North America from July to October 2009, with a European trek following from August to September 2010. The recording process for Neighborhoods, the band's sixth studio album, was stalled by its studio autonomy, tours, managers, and personal projects. DeLonge recorded at his studio in San Diego while Hoppus and Barker recorded in Los Angeles—an extension of their strained communication. The self-produced album—their first without Jerry Finn since Enema of the State—was released in September 2011 and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. Its singles—"Up All Night" and "After Midnight"—only attracted modest chart success, and label Interscope was reportedly disappointed with album sales.
"Despite growing evidence of remaining friction between the members," the band continued to tour in the early 2010s. They headlined the 10th Annual Honda Civic Tour in North America from in 2011, and toured Europe in 2012. The band left Interscope Records that October, and subsequently released Dogs Eating Dogs, an EP, in December 2012. The trio toured Australia in 2013; Brooks Wackerman replaced Barker on drums as Barker was unwilling to fly after his plane crash. These dates were followed with a small North American tour, and a series of shows celebrating the tenth anniversary of the band's self-titled album that November. The band played a European tour in August 2014, culminating in them headlining the Reading and Leeds Festivals; it was the band's fourth appearance at the festival and second headlining slot. DeLonge's final performance with Blink-182 was at the Wine Amplified Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 11, 2014.
Blink-182 performing in 2011
The reunion of the band has been characterized as dysfunctional by both Barker and DeLonge. Hoppus commented on this era of the band in a later interview: "Everything was always very contentious. There was always just a strange vibe. [...] I knew there was something wrong." In his memoir, Can I Say, Barker claims DeLonge's behavior on tour was "introverted" until "money started coming in," after which "he'd get excited about Blink." He states DeLonge abruptly quit sometime in mid-2014, and rejoined the following day. The group planned to begin writing their seventh album in January 2015, which had continually seen delays. "I'd do interviews and I just felt awful for fans because they were promised albums for years and we couldn't do it," Barker later said. A record deal was finalized and sessions were booked before DeLonge's manager informed the band he intended to spend more time on "non-musical activities" and indefinitely depart the group. In his own statement, DeLonge remarked that he "Never planned on quitting, [I] just find it hard as hell to commit." After these events, Barker summarized the band's reunion: "Why Blink even got back together in the first place is questionable."
Lineup change and California (2015–2017)
Blink-182 performing in 2016. Matt Skiba
(right) replaced founding member Tom DeLonge in 2015.
Hoppus and Barker decided to continue on without DeLonge, and enlisted Alkaline Trio vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba to "fill in" for three shows in March 2015. Hoppus and Skiba had been wanting to work together musically for several years, so he was the first and only person considered for the role. After legal battles with DeLonge were worked out, Skiba joined Blink-182 as an official member and began preparations for new music. The resulting album, California, was produced by John Feldmann. He was the group's first new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn. California was recorded between January and March 2016. The band, as well as Feldmann, would regularly spend "18 hours" in the studio a day, aiming to start and complete multiple songs in that timeframe. "We all wanted to write the best record that we could [...] It does feel like a new beginning. It feels like when we used to tour and sleep in the van because that's all we wanted to do is play rock music," said Hoppus.
Upon its July 2016 release, California became the band's second number-one album on the Billboard 200, and first in 15 years; it also reached the top for the first time in the United Kingdom. Its lead single, "Bored to Death", became the group's first number one single in 12 years. The band supported the album with a large headlining tour across North America between July and October 2016, and a European leg in June and July 2017. A deluxe edition of California—essentially a double album including songs left off the original album—was issued in 2017. California earned the band their first nomination for Best Rock Album at the Grammy Awards. Critical reviews of the album, however, were mixed; many considered Feldmann's input and the throwback nature of the songs as formulaic.
Side projects, continued touring and Nine (2018–present)
After the conclusion of the California tour, the band took time off and started to prepare to record their eighth studio album. "Somehow, Blink has had this resurgence like we never expected," Hoppus told Kerrang! in July 2017. "I count myself lucky to have been [playing in the band] as long as I have."
The band signed a 16-date residency deal with the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The shows, known as "Kings of the Weekend," were to take place on select weekends beginning May 26, 2018, and end on November 17, 2018.
The band had to reschedule several residency tour dates after Barker developed blood clots in his arms. After Barker was cleared by his doctors, the band resumed the Vegas dates on October 26, 2018.
The band collaborated with Steve Aoki (who previously remixed "Bored to Death") on the track "Why Are We So Broken", which is featured on Aoki's album Neon Future III.
During the band's time off from touring, Hoppus developed severe depression from an unknown source. Many others, including his wife and manager, suggested that in order to counteract the depression, he should return to writing music. Hoppus originally wanted to create a project that featured numerous musicians, but after writing multiple songs with All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth, the duo decided to continue writing together. In early 2019, they announced their new side project called Simple Creatures, along with multiple EPs and a small tour.
Later that year, Blink-182 announced that they would be playing Enema of the State in its entirety at the 2019 Back to the Beach Festival to honor the album's 20th anniversary. Not long after, they would announce a North American summer tour with American rapper Lil Wayne and Welsh pop punk band Neck Deep where they would continue to play all of Enema of the State.
Beginning in May 2019, the band regularly released new songs while building up to the announcement of their next album titled Nine, which included "Blame It on My Youth", "Generational Divide", and "Happy Days". They had originally wanted the album to be released in early summer, but were forced to postpone due to prolonged production and writing. The album was officially announced on July 25, 2019 with a release date of September 20, 2019 and another song called "Darkside" released on the next day.