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Blink-182 Soap Opera: What Other Bands Can Learn

Blink 182
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Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of blink-182 pose at a press party of announce the 2011 Honda Civic Tour featuring blink-182 and My Chemical Romance at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on May 23, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. 

Full-time force or part-time nostalgia? It’s a crossroads that veteran bands often struggle with, and it’s what ultimately wrecked Blink.

What went down among Mark, Tom and Travis never should have been put on blast for the Internet at large. Tom doesn't want to play with Mark and Travis, or at least not as much as they'd like. Tom wants the band as a part-time cash-grab, Mark and Travis want the good old days. Tom wants to talk via his manager through email, Mark and Travis want face-to-face. Mark may have even conspired with Tom to get rid of Travis.

Regardless of what you think of all that's gone down between Blink-182 over the past few days -- whose side you want to take and whether you'd want to see two-thirds Blink, one-third Alkaline Trio play California's Musink Festival -- the conflict itself is pretty damn embarrassing. If Blink was riding high off a successful album, or even working on an anticipated project that had people talking, we'd still be in their corner, rooting for them to work things out and turn the sparring into a footnote along the way to another Enema of the State, or even another Blink-182.

Blink-182's 'Enema of the State' at 15: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

But alas, it's 2015, and even though considerable amounts of money and creative property are at stake, the general public sees this as a sad squabble: three musicians fighting for control of a legacy. And therein lies the problem, the reason we're watching Blink-182's personal drama play out over a series of press releases, Instagram posts and interviews: Tom DeLonge wanted Blink-182 to exist as a legacy act, while Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker wanted it to be an active, living, breathing entity competing with the Paramores and Fall Out Boys of the world for pop-punk relevancy.

Speaking of Fall Out Boy, they're a great example of how to toe the legacy act/active band line. When they went on hiatus in 2009, they needed a break badly. Years in the public eye had been exhausting, and the four members needed time to break addictions, attend to their personal lives and pursue other creative outlets. This out of their systems, they returned in 2013, all on the same page, ready to pick up where they left off -- which they absolutely did.

Blink's time since returning from its 2005-09 hiatus has been very different. 2011's Neighborhoods -- their lone LP since -- was greeted with a warm welcome but quickly faded from the mainstream discussion, something that never happened during the band's previous three album cycles. Blink will always have an audience, but thanks in large part to their squabbles, time hasn't been kind to the trio. When they went on hiatus in 2005, Green Day was in the middle of its American Idiot resurgance and Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and many other Warped Tour acts were just starting to break out. 2005-09 could have been a bountiful time for an active, well-adjusted Blink-182.

Why Blink even got back together in the first place is questionable.
-Travis Barker, Jan. 26 interview

Look at each of our social media accounts and look who talks and promotes Blink-182 or is excited about Blink-182. Travis and I were ready to walk into a studio January 5th. That speaks louder than anything.
-Mark Hoppus, Jan. 26 interview

Never planned on quitting, just find it hard as hell to commit.
-Tom DeLonge, Jan. 27 Facebook post

Mark and Travis wanted a full-time band and the good ol' days; Tom wanted a part-time nostalgia outlet. Neither is inherently wrong: Fall Out Boy mastered the former, but it's an awfully difficult line to toe. The Pixies' 2003 reunion was well-received at first but wore out its welcome by the time Kim Deal quit, replacement bassist Kim Shattuck was fired, and their first new music in two decades got a lukewarm reception. New Order splintered to the point Pete Hook was constantly at the throats of Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, and now the bassist awkwardly performs the Joy Division and New Order catalog on his own. Stone Temple Pilots fired Scott Weiland and pulled the left-field move of bringing in Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, with new music still under the STP name.

Mark Hoppus: Blink-182 Was Never Going To Part with Travis Barker

It's painful to watch our heroes fall apart in public, but then again, while our nostalgia is in question, their livelihoods are often at stake. Maybe more groups should keep the book closed and go down in history with the Smiths' or Talking Heads' squeaky-clean legacies, but as long as there's a market for reunion tours, that won't often be the case. This week, Hoppus told Rolling Stone his hopes for Blink-182: "Play shows, record music, continue this legacy and have a good time doing it."

Now it appears almost none of that is possible. But it wouldn't have been that way if the trio had been as open with each other over the past decade as they've been with the Internet over the past week.