“My friends say I should act my age, what’s my age again?” Mark Hoppus, co-lead vocalist and bassist of the pop punk band Blink-182, asks in the 1999 hit song “What’s My Age Again?” On Monday night, right before Hoppus and the William Shubael Conant Professor of Music Steven Mackey began “A Conversation with Mark Hoppus,” the Princeton Nassoons, adorned in their signature blazers and orange and black ties, posed this question to Hoppus himself as they serenaded him in front of a sold-out crowd in Berlind Theater.
“The youthful rebellion of [Blink-182’s music] as a high schooler is always fun, and even now in college, not taking themselves too seriously but still having a great musicality, that’s something I tried to bring in my arrangement and the performance,” Charlie Hemler ’20, the arranger and soloist of the performance said.
With catchy songs like “All the Small Things” and “First Date,” and over 50 million records sold worldwide, Blink-182 has had a tremendous influence on the pop punk genre. Hoppus and Mackey discussed the cultural impact and timelessness of Blink-182’s music, analyzing songs including “Rock Show,” “Feeling Myself,” and, of course, “What’s My Age Again?” to illustrate how the group’s sound has evolved since its founding in 1992.
“Blink has gone through so many iterations,” Hoppus said. “It’s kind of become this multigenerational thing.”
Mackey and Hoppus focused a majority of the conversation on Blink-182’s writing and creative processes, walking through how certain songs came to be. Hoppus shared stories about how songs like “Rock Show” and “First Date” were written quickly and out of anger at their manager for not liking their demo for the album that became the 2001 album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, which has now sold over 14 million copies worldwide.
“Both ended up being great songs and songs we still play today,” Hoppus said. “The impetus for [‘Rock Show’] was, I’m just going to go and write a song against you, and that ended up being a success.”
Hoppus noted how new recording techniques and demands from producers have changed the way the group approaches songwriting today versus when they first started. However, he added that the songwriting dynamic in the group has remained the same.
“The best work that Blink ever does is when we’re opposed to one another,” Hoppus said. “That’s when our songwriting works best, when there is this weird push and pull between all of us.”
Today, Blink-182’s fan base continues to grow, and the band is set to release their eighth studio album this summer. Hoppus explained that the core of the group’s identity has not changed since the beginning, and that is why Blink-182 has maintained its relevance nearly three decades later.
“Blink has always had this core fan base that has been very loyal,” Hoppus said. “And even though we were never critical darlings, people who listen to Blink know that we have a heart, and that we work really hard, and that we’re true to ourselves, and that we try to put on a good show, and they’ve always stuck with us.”
“We’ve always felt like we were the outsiders and we’ve always taken that as a badge of honor,” he added.
The event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and took place at 7:30 p.m. in Berlind Theater.
A Q&A with Mark Hoppus will be published in print and online on Wednesday, March 27.