Rumours of the return of Tom DeLonge to Blink-182 are a bit like failed New Years resolutions. Each time they surface, a genuine feeling of excitement courses through you, and you tell yourself things will be different this time.
While previously discussing new Angels & Airwaves music with Rolling Stone, Delonge said “of course” he’d want to reunite with his old band, in the future. He, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker “just gotta figure out the timing,” he assured us.
I’m not here to tell you what to think about the latest rumour. I’m not even here to tell you that Tom DeLonge won’t ever reunite with the band, because anything can happen in this business.
I’m here to tell you that, even if the latest whispers of a reunion come to much, that much like finally fulfilling a New Years resolution after a bunch of attempts, it won’t be able to live up to the years of over-hyping.
1. Post-DeLonge Blink-182 is alive and thriving
The original breakup and reunion of Blink-182 in 2005 and 2009 respectively was very different to any potential reunion now. Back then, Tom DeLonge was still a card-carrying member of the band, despite having creative differences with Mark Hoppus.
Things have changed dramatically, and the band has recorded two albums with Matt Skiba in place of DeLonge. 2016’s California went straight to #1 in the US despite receiving mixed reviews, while 2019 record NINE was praised by most, with NME calling it the “spiritual follow-up” to the 2003 untitled record.
2. Tom & Mark haven’t seen eye-to-eye since 2001
In Ernie Ball’s 2016 doco Tom Delonge: Pursuit Of Tone, DeLonge admits that he felt a quantum leap forward in his guitar playing after returning from making the record with Box Car Racer. He confirms the well-publicised conflict with Hoppus took place, as blink made their divisive 2003 untitled record.
The result was Blink-182’s most diverse record, and was called experimental by many critics. Delonge maintains that up to that point, “it was the best shit we’d ever done” despite the internal turmoil the band members faced.
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3. Their last record as Mark, Tom and Travis was far from their best work
If you want to see what a Tom DeLonge Blink-182 reunion might look like today, then look no further than 2011’s Neighborhoods. Eight years since their previous release, the creative process was dogged with issues of disunity among band members.
It received mixed reviews, with some calling it brave while others admitting it fell short. In an interview in 2016, Barker said the band felt like Delonge wanted them to sound like U2, while Delonge himself only briefly acknowledges the record in his Pursuit Of Time deep dive through his career.
4. The reason Tom originally left the band hasn’t changed
It all started with Box Car Racer, a group that DeLonge put together in 2001 with David Kennedy. As he admitted in that Pursuit Of Tone interview, he felt like he needed to explore things outside of blink-182.
Reflecting on when he was still part of blink, DeLonge speaks about “the Tom sound” and his growth as a guitarist in the early 2000s. Looking back, this was a real turning point for his relationship with the band, and from the point that blink-182 wasn’t satisfying him musically, things would never quite be the same.
5. The year-on-year hype is too much to live up to
It wasn’t long after DeLonge departed blink-182 for the second time (in 2015) that rumours of his return began to surface. The band was so successful in its early iterations that DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker have been be forced to field questions about getting back together whenever they’ve done interviews since.
It’s a nice narrative for the media, so here’s the rumour mill we’ve been subject to (that’s largely been driven by DeLonge himself):
- September 2015: DeLonge tells Billboard he’s “totally willing and interested” in reuniting with blink-182, just months after being replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba.
- March 2017: DeLonge says “I still own the band” and swears he’s been chatting to Barker about returning to blink.
- October 2018: Barker tweets an image of DeLonge’s head with the caption ‘Where are youuuu’, and the latter responses “I am the voice inside your yeeeeaaad”, sparking more rumours.
- May 2019: DeLonge tells Kerrang he “plans” on returning to blink-182 when he can ger away from his UFO researching and AVA commitments.
- May 2020: Delonge says “of course” he will play with blink-182 again.
DeLonge is undoubtedly an incredible talent, and his years of work with blink-182 should be recognised for the impact they had on the punk scene, and music in general.
He uses his media appearances well and wants to keep the door to a reunion open. Ultimately though, unless we invent time travel, no return of old band members will ever make blink what it was in the 90s and early-2000s, and the band should be celebrated, not crucified, for remaining a relevant force despite so many upheavals over the years.