Highs and Lows is a feature in which we chronologically track the peaks and valleys of an artist, band, or filmmaker’s career. This time, we take a look at a punk band who made growing up optional.
You would think that if a band had 20 years, they would figure things out. They would learn from their mistakes, patch up their imperfections, and continue on an upward trajectory until that fateful day when they mutually decide to call it quits. But bands are made of people, and people don’t work that way. People experience life as a jagged trajectory of highs and lows, twists and turns. We hope that we’re building toward some grand finale in which everything makes sense, but that’s really all we can do: hope.
(Read: Blink-182’s Top 10 Songs)
When we decided to roll out a new series that traces the highs and lows of careers, Blink-182 seemed like a logical choice to start. Maybe that’s because there’s nothing inherently logical about Blink-182. A trio of men trapped in a state of permanent adolescence shouldn’t be allowed to rewrite the rules of an entire genre. They shouldn’t be allowed to turn punk away from politics, to move it out to the suburbs, to buy it a new house built on an unstable foundation of hormones, dick jokes, and juvenile punnery. But that’s exactly what Blink-182 did, transforming from SoCal punk also-rans into a bubblegum-fueled juggernaut that steered punk closer to the mainstream than even Green Day ever could.
The rise and fall (and rise and fall) of Blink-182 is a story of kids who never grew up but tried, desperately at times, to escape the baggage of their past. Now that founding member Tom DeLonge has parted ways with bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker, the band is set to embark on yet another new chapter, this one coming more than two decades into its existence. It’s hard to say where Blink-182 will go after releasing California, their first album with guitarist Matt Skiba and their strongest in years. If their past is any indication, the future is impossibly hard to predict.