They sing about crank calls, taking dumps and being dumped, but San Diego, California band Blink 182 want to make one thing perfectly clear -- they are not a novelty band. Unlike acts like Presidents of the United States and even Rammstein, Blink 182 focus primarily on crafting turbo-charged guitar riffs, hook-laden punk melodies and invigorating beats. The humor is an afterthought -- less a selling mechanism than an accurate portrayal of the band members' personalities. Blink 182's new album Enema of the State is the group's strongest effort to date. And the band's energies aren't going unnoticed. Enema of the State has met with critical and commercial acclaim, and the group's heavy road schedule. We recently caught up with Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge, and between dodging spitballs, talked about the surprise of success, the power of melody, and the devotion of fans, as well as such wholesome American topics as nudity and poo-poo.
Guitar.com: Your new album, Enema of the State, is attracting a mainstream following. Does that surprise you, since you're still uncompromising, heavy and irreverent?
Tom Delonge: It's weird. It's the same thing we've always been doing. Yes, we finally can do it a little bit better, but it's just happening now for us. I think this is by far our best album, but maybe it finally just reached the point where more people can listen to it. Maybe it's not as punk as the other ones. Who knows?
Guitar.com: Do you think your success might stem from the Offspring explosion?
Delonge: I don't know. I'm not the right person to say if the punk movement is coming back up. Obviously we are contributing to it somehow, but I'm just too busy working to know if the Offspring opened the doors wide open again. It might just be because there are just songs on the radio, and our song's getting played a bunch. But it would be rad if the punk movement got strong again because that's the music I love and the scene I love to be a part of.
Guitar.com: What do you think your audiences are latching on to? Is it the practical jokes, the potty humor, the aggression?
Delonge: Well, we've always sung serious songs but overloaded them with personality. So, usually kids that like our band know the kind of people we are and really know about the bandmembers themselves and where we come from, and our shows really represent that.
Guitar.com: Are you at all freaked out by your success?
Delonge: Fuck no. People that get freaked out over success are idiots. "Oh, I can't handle it." Why? It's one thing if you're Madonna or Ricky Martin. But for us, we've always wanted people to get into our music and now they are, so that's nothing to get upset about. At least people are coming to our shows.
Guitar.com: How would you describe your vibe?
Delonge: I think we bring a positive vibe and we bring songs that kids can relate to and things that kids go through every day. There are so many songs on the radio that are about things that never happened to the people in the band. They're not genuine or sincere. And our stuff is. We only write about a few things -- parents and relationships, or just liking a girl and she thinks you're a scumbag. But these are things that kids can relate to, and they know that they're for real, and maybe that's what it is.
Guitar.com: But your sense of humor is certainly an added attraction.
Delonge: We're letting kids know that we're real people and it's entertaining at the same time, but we're not a novelty act. We're not singing about stupid things that are gonna be gone tomorrow.
Guitar.com: Do you think some people have mistaken you for a wacky, gimmicky novelty band?
Delonge: Oh, totally, and those are uneducated, ignorant people, and if they really listened to our record, they wouldn't be saying that. 99.9 percent of our records are serious. There might be a couple jokes thrown in, but because we joke around a lot, people brainwash themselves and don't even listen to what we're saying.
Guitar.com: But you can't deny the humor quotient. You have a porn star on your cover art, you run around naked in your video, and the front of your last record depicted a bull with a giant pair of testicles.
Delonge: Well fuck. We wanna be real people. We want people to be involved in our band. It sucks to hear a song on a radio that doesn't mean anything and a video where a band is playing in a dark room and it's just lit weird. God, it's just so boring and everyone has done it. Why not put into our songs and videos what we're like as people? So, we're writing in the song about a girl that I don't like, I'll be writing a lyric or two about how she smells like shit because it's funny and that's what you joke about with your friends. And then we make the video [for "What's my Name Again"], we go, "What could we do that's funny? Well, we'll run around Hollywood naked."
Tom Delonge: The trick to being hummably heavy.
Guitar.com: Were you really naked?
Delonge: In about 40 percent of it we were naked. We had speedos for a lot of the stuff outside, but for some of the stuff we just punked it and ran. Those are real reactions from the people in the video because no one knew it was coming.
Guitar.com: You seem to have quite a history of being naked.
Delonge: Yeah, we do. Mark is naked almost all the time. But he was really excited to do the video because it meant he could finally be naked on camera.
Guitar.com: What's the story behind "What's my Age Again?"
Delonge: It's so cliche, but the reason [bassist and vocalist] Mark [Hoppus] wrote that song is because Mark [Hoppus] is 27, and he's usually rolling around on the floor naked and farting or something in front of a girl, and he'll be laughing. He'll think it's so funny. And she'll be like, "How old are you?" And that's totally why he wrote the song. But we're just three guys who grew up in Southern California skateboarding and pulling pranks on people and listening to punk rock music, and those songs just seem to encompass what we're all about.
Guitar.com: What's your favorite prank?
Delonge: A favorite game of mine is called poo dollar, where you actually put your own poop in a dollar bill and throw it on the ground and watch people pick it up.