TOUR EXCLUSIVE: Blink-182 & My Chem Backstage
Tom DeLonge and Mikey Way talk Honda Civic tour, pre-show rituals, and their favorite bands, Weezer and Rancid.
Blink-182 recruited My Chemical Romance to join them on the Honda Civic Tour this summer and fall. Blink are playing songs from their September 27 release, Neighborhoods, their first studio album in eight years, and guitarist-vocalist Tom DeLonge tells SPIN that he’s always wanted to go out on the road with the New Jersey rockers.
Hours before the recent opening show in Holmdel, NJ (read our review), DeLonge and MCR bassist Mikey Way sat down with SPIN to chat about the tour, the musical influence of favorite bands Weezer and Rancid, and previous tourmates Green Day’s penchant for pranks.
Naturally, there were plenty of jokes. At one point during the interview, DeLonge dug into his pocket, pulled out a guitar pick and handed it to Way, who read aloud the inscription on the back: “I want you inside me.”
I imagine you guys are laughing constantly. Do you pull pranks on each other?
Tom DeLonge: We don’t really prank anybody. Well, we did [on a previous tour] with a bunch of concussion light blasts during Jimmy Eat World’s set. We did it just randomly in the middle of a song. [Frontman] Jim [Adkins] would be singing about a girl and we’d just hit it. That was partly Green Day’s idea, too.
Mikey Way: When we were out with Green Day they got us really good on the last night of the tour. They had a garbage bag filled with popcorn above me and they poured it out during our set. They also had flood lights and their lighting directors came out and pointed them directly in our faces. Every time [MCR frontman] Gerard [Way] tried to talk between songs they’d light off the concussion blasts — and then the band came out onstage with light sabers and were fighting while we were playing [laughs].
Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
TD: I told everyone I wasn’t going to drink on this tour. But now I’m feeling like I might start here pretty shortly [laughs]. I don’t know about you [looks at Mikey] but I’ve got a good hour of listening to Van Halen and the Descendents, and drinking vodka with a dash of orange juice.
MW: That’s a good ritual. I just kind of sit backstage and do muscle memory exercises and get in the zone for about an hour before. It’s not nearly as cool as your ritual.
TD: I know. Muscle memory, damn.
MW: I don’t even have any muscles either!
Mikey, do you listen to any music to get pumped up for a show?
MW: [MCR guitarist] Frank [Iero] usually has some awesome mix going backstage. I also used to listen to a lot of Weezer before we went on.
TD: How good is “The Blue Album”?
MW: I love Pinkerton. I went to that Pinkerton album show, where Weezer played the whole thing — it was amazing! They did “The Blue Album” the night before but unfortunately I couldn’t make it.
TD: “The Blue Album” is so good, dude. That “going surfing” song [“Surf Wax America”] is the most badass thing ever.
Did you guys have to relearn any songs for this tour? Or are they ingrained in your brain by now…?
TD: No, I’ve been playing some of these songs for 20 years now.
MW: There are a couple songs that we’re going to break out later in the tour that we had to relearn. To start out we’re going to play a set similar to what we’ve been playing at the European festivals. But when we get further in we’re going to change up the set list and there are some [songs] that we haven’t played in probably five or six years. We’ll probably break those out in September.
TD: The band is having me do a few solos, too. Vocals solos, though, not guitar solos. So we’ve got to work out where we want them [laughs].
MW: Yeah. We’ve got to figure that out.
Have you guys followed each other’s careers over the years?
TD: I tell everyone that I groveled at their feet, “Come on tour with us!” I wanted them to tour with us on Blink’s first reunion tour; it didn’t work because they were coming off a tour cycle and we were just getting the band back together. But I’ll say — right here in front of him [Mikey] — that I think My Chemical Romance are the next generation after Blink. The scope of their artistic acumen is radical and progressive. I’m a very progressive thinker about music, so I think this [tour and partnership] made a lot of sense. My Chem is already circling in the air right above us.
MW: That’s awesome. Thanks for saying that. Blink is one of the bands we’ve looked up to and always respected. There are a lot of similarities in how we came up. We both came out of scenes that we didn’t really fit in, but we all came into our own and did our own thing.
TD:What’s cool about that statement is that the punk rock bands that didn’t fit in were the great ones, usually, like the Clash or the Police or U2, who were actually good at playing their instruments. The Cure started with “Boys Don’t Cry” and the next thing you know they’re writing “Just Like Heaven.” I see that in My Chemical Romance and I see that in us [Blink]. I’ve always thought that the punk bands that don’t fit in are the ones that have the most potential.
MW: Absolutely. People will say what they’re going to say, but you can’t really pigeonhole either of us into a genre. We’re just rock’n’roll, which makes it cool that we finally get to do this tour together.
So, Mikey, you were a Blink fan growing up?
MW: Absolutely. The first record I got was [1994’s] Cheshire Cat. I think I was in the ninth grade.
TD: That’s crazy!
Which explains the age range at this show. It’s vast!
MW: I love that. Absolutely. With this tour there are going to be twenty-four-year-old kids, 40 year olds, 60 year olds. There’s such a wide spectrum.
TD: And once Rancid joins the tour both of our bands will probably just sit down and take those nights off to just let Rancid play [laughs].
Excited for Rancid to join the tour, huh?
TD: Oh my god, I can’t wait. I always get angry when I talk about Rancid because in my mind that band could have picked up exactly where the Clash left off. They are so pro and have so many hits, too. I still listen to Rancid every night before I play, in addition to all the other stuff I mentioned earlier.
Both new Blink songs released so far, “Up All Night” and “Heart’s All Gone,” display different sides of the band’s sound. Tom, how would you describe the new album as a whole?
TD: It sounds like we took all of our independent projects (DeLonge’s Angles & Airwaves, drummer Travis Barker’s Transplants and solo LP, and bassist Mark Hoppus’ +44) put them in a big bottle and shook it up. We’ve all learned a lot in our respective careers during that eight-year hiatus and it wouldn’t be genuine or sincere to not bring it in. So I think you hear all of it. If you look at the two songs we’ve released, everything fits between those two compositions.
Are fans open-minded to your bands taking creative risks?
TD: I think [MCR] have built a career on that. With our last record [2003’s Blink-182] we started stepping in that direction, but our fans are pretty hardcore. Having done Angels & Airwaves [during Blink’s hiatus] I started realizing from a peripheral view what Blink really is. I learned what Blink was after it went away. When we came back I was like, “Okay that’s what it is.” It’s helped me understand why fans are so fucking fatal about this. But I get it because I’m the same way about a lot of other punk rock bands. I’m like, “Don’t fuck up what this meant to me as a teenager!”
MW: When you change [the band’s sound] sometimes fans are stubborn and are like, “Oh man, this sounds different.” But usually they grow to like the change, even if it’s not be an immediate thing.
TD: Yeah… it takes a bit.
MW: It does. But then they go, “Oh, this is even better!”