Blink-182 talks new residency, super-fast songs and bad decisions

Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 performing at the Pearl.

It was 1999, and all summer long a trio of naked, skinny white boys ran across television screens while the nasally vocals of their inescapable single “What’s My Age Again” played during MTV’s Total Request Live. Ever since its massive breakthrough nearly two decades ago, Blink-182 has been a defining voice for slapstick pop punk, synonymous with California, skateboarding and dick jokes.

The Weekly sat down inside the Palms with bassist and co-vocalist Mark Hoppus, now 46, to talk about the band’s new King of the Weekend residency inside the Palms, among other things.

How’s it going? Did you just fly in today? I got here yesterday. I played a show with some friends last night, so I woke up today here in Vegas and spent the day at the pool—although when I go to the pool I don’t do anything interesting or fun. [laughs] I sit in a cabana in the shade and watch my iPad.

Congrats on the second week of your residency, by the way. What’s it feel like playing Vegas for an extended period of time? It’s pretty cool and different, it’s really awesome to be coming back to the same place over and over again and trying to change the set each time to do something a little bit different. It’s an interesting puzzle as a band because we have pyrotechnics, we have cryo, we have certain lighting cues, so there are anchor songs in the set that we can’t change.

To regress, before we started rehearsing, I made three song lists: songs that we absolutely have to play at every show, songs that we can flip-flop in and out, and songs that are really, really deep cuts that we’ll play here and there just for fun, to make every single show different.

You guys have so much energy. Are you all just slamming Red Bulls before you go on? I don’t drink Red Bull. Honestly pretty much all I drink is sparkling water. It’s hard not to be in a good mood when you come out and people are having fun and smiling. It was funny, though, we played Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and Saturday the crowd was insane, people were going nuts. Sunday, you could tell people had been out drinking, sitting out by the pool. Our energy was the same, but the crowd seemed like, you’ve been out in the sun all day haven’t you?

Enema of the State turns 20 next year, and I noticed the setlists are pretty heavy on that album. Was that intentional? When we were laying out the set, I think the headspace we were in was very similar to the [one during the] writing of California and Enema of the State.

How so? I just wanted it to be immediate, energetic and fun. We want people to come and have a really good time. We don’t really play slow songs. “Adam’s Song” is kind of a slow song, I think this week we’re going to play “Stay Together for the Kids,” which is kind of a slow song, but mostly we wanted people to come and have a good time.

You guys played “Party Song” two weekends ago, which I know is super rare. We’ve never played it before last weekend.

Never? We’ve never played it.

I’m stoked I got to see that, then. Are you going to keep playing it? No. [laughs] And I’ll tell you why. I’ll peel back the curtain a little bit. For us and for hardcore Blink fans, it was a cool song, [but it’s] a deep cut from an album that came out almost 20 years ago, so a lot of people just had no idea. And first of all, it’s a hard song to play.

It’s super fast. It’s super fast. There’s nowhere to breathe. We had to work long and hard at rehearsal so that I sing the majority of the line and Matt sings the end of the line, just long enough for me to take a break and start the next line. It was a lot of work to do, and we played it and some people were like, “I can’t believe they’re playing this!” and some people were like, “What is this song?” These are good problems to have, that your catalog is so big some people don’t recognize the songs.

One cool thing about having a residency at the Palms is getting to take advantage of the studio. Have you guys recorded anything there yet? We haven’t. Last weekend when we were here, it was pretty full-on, just because it was the first weekend. But we’ve actually talked about recording while we’re here.

The world is completely crazy right now. What do you do to stay sane? Put my phone down. I go on Twitter, but it depends on what time of day. I had to stop going on my phone first thing in the morning and logging into Twitter, because I would just find myself outraged within 10 minutes of waking up and it’s no way to start the day. So I try to do other things in the morning, and then when I’m ready for the outrage then I’ll turn my phone on and look at Twitter. I mean, every day there’s some brand new outrage that you can’t believe is actually happening, and it’s just too wound up right now.

When Blink-182 first came out, my parents went through the liner notes of my CD and were like, “What the hell are you listening to?” Now that you’re a parent, is there anything your kids listen to that elicits a similar reaction? [laughs] Not really. I mean, my son listens to a lot of different music. He’ll listen to Neck Deep and A Day to Remember and then he’ll listen to Ariana Grande and Drake and then he’ll listen to … who else does he like right now? He loves the new Kanye record. But he has a pretty good head on his shoulders so I don’t really worry too much about what he’s listening to as far as hearing a bad word here and there. I would be more concerned if he listened to something that advocated violence.

You’re a part of Vegas culture now. What’s your favorite thing about the city? You know what was great? When we were flying home last weekend, my son was here for the whole weekend [and] we asked him, “What do you think about Las Vegas?” And he said, “It’s cool. I like watching people make bad decisions.”

Blink-182: King of the WeekendJune 15-16, October 26-27, November 2-3, 9-10, 9 p.m., $35-$155, The Pearl.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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