The VICE Interview: Mark Hoppus
The longtime Blink-182 member talks rave, never sleeping and self-doubt.
This is the VICE Interview. Each week we ask a different famous and/or interesting person the same set of questions in a bid to peek deep into their psyche.
Pop punk had been nudged through the 1990s by Green Day and The Offspring when Blink-182 came thrusting into the mainstream, middle fingers up and arses out. No one was as crude and catchy as the San Diego trio; by the time Enema of the State came out in 1999, one slice of teen existence on both sides of the Atlantic centred around Dickies, MTV, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Jackass. All the while, Blink-182 filled what felt like every Walkman, bedroom and skate park.
From dog-fucking jokes and naked music videos to marriage, parenthood and Tom DeLonge's departure, the band is still very much alive over 20 years since it began. Without their frontman, they have been joined by Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and have just released their new album, California.
We spoke to longtime member, bassist and singer, Mark Hoppus, in the poshest place with free sparkling water we've ever been – a private ballroom in the fucking Savoy Hotel.
VICE: What was your worst phase?
I did rave for a couple of years in the very, very early 90s. There are pictures of me with crazy huge pants and striped t-shirts. I didn't listen to rave, only punk rock, but I like the idea of people taking over spaces and throwing a party. I lived in a desert town but we'd go to LA and San Diego and it was just starting to happen there. I liked the hunt where you have to go to a record store, find a guy with a purple hat and tell him you wanted to go to the party, then they'd send you to someone else on a different street corner. The whole hunt was fun but that was my worst phase ever.
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
I don't. I know that I'm being lied to about stuff but I'm not too bothered by it. When I've been presented with stuff that people say is conspiracy I don't take it at face value. I need more significant evidence. I don't think that the moon landing was faked, I don't believe in Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster. I don't think that aliens have visited us – I believe there's life out there of some sort but I don't think they've come here and hung out.
How many books have you actually read and finished in the past year? Don't lie.
In the last year, maybe a dozen or so. There's been times where I've gone a long time without reading but I try to read at least a book a month now. More non-fiction than fiction lately. Right now I'm reading a book about the American Revolution and Benedict Arnold. He's seen as this huge traitor in American history – if you call somebody a Benedict Arnold it means that they're a traitor. This book really investigates why he did what he did and right now I'm only halfway through it. This is so nerdy, but I actually listen to the book on audio when I'm driving then I go back and I read the actual book and take notes from that. There's so much information to process I don't want to forget it all, so I basically read it twice and write it down once.
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
Always. I am always filled with doubt – self-doubt at least. Every time I sit down to write a song I'm convinced I'm not gonna be able to beat the song that I wrote before. It's always great when you finish a song and everyone adds their stamp to it. Driving home from the studio listening to it in the car I feel super excited, proud, inspired and empowered. Then I wake up the next day, like, "Oh, I'll never write a great song again".
What is the nicest thing you own?
We've gotten to buy some pretty cool art that I really like a lot. We have a Banksy and an Andy Warhol.
What would be your last meal?
A bean and cheese burrito from a place in California. I'd leave out the rice. It's my favourite meal.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you come into the ring to?
"It's Raining Men". I think it would completely confound my opponent. If it was just a song to sum me up, I'd say "Dammit" by Blink-182.
What picture of you, that's been taken this year, do you think you look nicest in?
There's been a guy called Willie who's been taking a lot of Blink lately. He takes very photojournalistic, not staged photos and he always makes us look good. I don't mind getting my picture taken. Sometimes I think I look cool and other times I think "Oh God, this is dumb" – especially ones from live shows lately. You're rocking out, then you get the photos back and you're just making dumb rock faces and look like an idiot.
What memory from school stands out to you stronger than any other?
When I was a junior I took a class in Shakespeare. It was kind of a required class – and there was a teacher who really brought Shakespeare alive in a really cool way. I'd tried to read his work before and I never could. It just didn't make sense. He made it come into focus. I was actually going to college to become an English professor when I dropped out to tour full time.
What would your parents prefer you to have chosen as a career?
There was a point when I was in college and the band was starting to play shows outside San Diego: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara. We had this opportunity and there was a path I had to choose, because I was either going to fail college or I was gonna have to quit the band and do college full-time. I went to my Mum and asked her what she thought and she said, "You can go back to college any time, you only get one chance to play in a band." I guess I just needed someone to tell me it was OK. So I dropped out of college and I stayed at her house for a number of years, as the band toured and grew. I would not have been able to get to where we are without her giving me the blessing to pursue Blink.
Where did you go on your first friends' holiday and what did you do?
I guess for me that'd be our first time touring. I remember how foreign everything was, how much we struggled just to get gas money to get to the next city, sleeping on people's floors, sleeping on the side of the road having to figure out, "OK, if we each just eat one Taco Bell burrito that means we can probably get enough gas money to get to the next city". And having the best time doing it.
What's the latest you've stayed up?
I've gone straight through and done a whole other day. I do it a lot actually, more than I think people should. I don't tend to sleep a lot. I find it boring more than anything. I'd much rather be doing something, or reading a book or watching a movie or TV show. Sleep is more a mandated time out.
What have you done in your life that you most regret?
Everyone does things they regret. The real point of being a human is how you deal with those situations. As a whole, I try to own my mistakes, learn from them and not regret them so much as take them as a lesson. When I do make mistakes I try to correct it as best I can, then apologise if I need to apologise or fix it and move on.
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