Always play your hits live. Make music you love. Drive beats talent. And it’s ok to blow money if it means you don’t compromise your art. Those are just some of the life lessons learned and shared by Blink-182 bass player Mark Hoppus during an engaging on-stage interview Monday at MIDEM.
Hoppus discussed the journey which has seen the band cruise through two decades working within the major-label machine, to taking full control of their recording career and becoming a DIY rock band.
The bass player and producer came across as a switched-on musician, with a good head for the industry he works in – and all its complex issues. “It’s a really exciting time to be in a band and a really scary time, because of downloads and issues of copyright. It’s a difficult path to maneuver for bands and companies, but for me there are infinite possibilities.”
Piracy, he said, was the “most difficult aspect of our work. Ten years on there is no clear answer. I firmly believe artists should be paid for what they create. The bands coming up now are having such a hard time. The bands on the cusp, for them that revenue stream of selling records is gone. Music has become a loss leader for merch and tickets. It’s hard for them.”
He recalled fans who would approach him after gigs, asking him to autograph a burned Blink-182 CD. “It’s a hard balance; you want people to list to an artist and for the artist to get paid. I haven’t wrapped my head around it. There are great artists who can’t support themselves and it’s a tragedy.”
After a five-year separation, the trio reunited in 2011 and last year self-funded the EP Dogs Eating Dogs, which dropped as a digital-only release last December. The decision to release the track online wasn’t so much built into a new media plan, but was rooted in “laziness,” he joked. “We rushed to get the EP recorded, mixed and mastered in time for its release. Then we had a holiday, and forgot about the physical product. We are not good businessmen,” he admitted. “We don’t think like that. We didn’t get a physical product out because we were too lazy to print them up.”
Hoppus, who now lives in London and co-owns a studio in L.A., also opened up on his personal fascination with all things new and digital.
“I don’t’ stream or buy CDs… pretty much everything I buy I do it on iTunes. I miss the experience of walking into a record store and find old stuff without expecting to. You don’t get that experience anymore, talking to people in-store. But now, at least, I can buy music at 2am in my underwear. I like that. I like the convenience of buying music in my underwear.”
The group will soon start rehearsals for their upcoming tour of Australia. “We never relied on our label for tour support. We never wanted to go into debt to tour, we always did it within our means, he said. We always toured on our own, never needed a label to give us money to tour.”