Even for scatological songwriters Blink-182, there's a time to put your pants back on and stop obsessing over about poop, pee-pee and other bodily functions.
Not that the bandmembers have lost their sense of humor — they've just matured a little. In June, drummer Travis Barker announced at the KROQ Weenie Roast in Los Angeles that the band's next album would be called Use Your Erection 1 & 2 (see "Blink-182 LP Gets Title From GN'R, Gloom From Robert Smith"). He was joking. The disc, due November 18, will be self-titled, signaling a rebirth of sorts for the pop-punk group.
The conceptual record will confront themes of growing up and dealing with the realities of adulthood including relationship woes, daily pressures and unexpected hardships. The tracks will blend into one another musically and will develop lyrically like chapters in a book, a spokesperson for the band said.
Call it the natural result of aging or the byproduct of spawning. Since they released Take Off Your Pants and Jacket in 2001, singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge and singer/bassist Mark Hoppus have each had a child. And drummer Travis Barker's girlfriend, Shanna Moakler, is due to deliver a baby on October 17. In addition, DeLonge and Barker's work with the more sobering band Box Car Racer and Barker's work with the electronic- and hip-hop-influenced Transplants have helped shape the band's growth.
For the past week, Blink-182 have been at Conway Studios in Los Angeles, where they'll remain for another two weeks, mixing and mastering with producer Jerry Finn. All of the tracks were recorded over the past six months at a studio they built in a rented house near San Diego. Ryan Hewitt engineered the disc.
The longest stint Blink-182 have ever spent recording a record was three months, so having twice that time allowed them the luxury of experimenting with different methods of writing, playing and recording.
"Action," the only track that currently has a title, will be featured on the "Madden 2004" video game, which comes out Thursday (see "Blink-182, Outkast, Bone Crusher, Joe Budden Score Tracks On 'Madden 2004' "). It is unknown whether the song will be the first single off the record.
The cut starts with flanged drums before bursting into a prototypical stabbing guitar rhythm, and then it gets a little unconventional. A syncopated Latin-flavored backbeat and a harmony-rich chorus follow volleys of half-barked vocals. After a hooky bridge, Hoppus and DeLonge harmonize with one another while singing different vocal parts.
Like many Blink-182 songs, "Action" is about failed romance, but it's not juvenile or one-dimensional. Instead it illustrates a scenario of lust, ambivalence and regret. As the first big riff kicks in, Blink sing, "Where do we go from here?/ Turn all the lights down now/ Smile from ear to ear/ My breathing has got too loud."
Then, as the song hits the refrain, the protagonist reflects over his romance's dimming flame: "Fate fell short this time, smile fades in the summer/ Place your hand in mine, I'll leave when I wanna." At the bridge, the main character acknowledges that he didn't know what he had until it was gone: "This place was never the same again after you came and went/ How can you say you meant anything different to anyone?"
Blink-182 will play "Action" and other songs from their new record when they play U.K. festivals at Reading (August 22) and Leeds (August 23).