LOS ANGELES — Blink-182 recently spent the night in jail.
No, not as inmates. That was their teenage years (Tom DeLonge when he was 18, Travis Barker 15, to be specific). The older, more mature Blink-182 were only behind bars for the sake of work. The punk trio shot their latest clip, for the new single "Feeling This," at the abandoned Lincoln Heights Jail north of downtown Los Angeles.
"The idea is that it's a very institutionalized school," singer/bassist Mark Hoppus explained on the set. "It's kind of a combination of prep school and reform school, and it's very repressed and kids are being held down. There is a lot of authority and a lot of strict regiment, and the kids lash out and take over the school and destroy the place."
"It's a video about the surreal imagery of kids being in school, [but it] feeling like a jail," singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge added. "When you get in that mindset for a long period of time, I think you start to look at your teachers in a different light."
Fans who remember Blink-182 for mocking boy bands and taking it all off in past videos might be surprised to see the band simply performing in "Feeling This" — or providing "the soundtrack to the chaos," as Hoppus put it.
"When the making of this video came up in discussion, there's a couple things that were really important to us," Hoppus said. "We wanted it to be looked at like an art piece, because the album that we just got done making, we looked at it that way and it took us almost a year to make. Everything from the artwork to the way the songs worked together to how the songs were recorded to what the songs were written about are done in a way to resemble kind of an art project."
To capture their vision, Blink-182 enlisted David LaChapelle, the artsy photographer who directed Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty" video, among others.
"He does these crazy, crazy photos of all different types of things that take you to a different place, and the videos always resemble his vision," Hoppus said of LaChapelle, who once dressed Blink-182 as garbage men for a photo. "His vision is completely wacked out and twisted, which is exactly what we love."
LaChapelle's vision for "Feeling This" ranges from an evil prison warden cracking a whip at marching school kids to escapees ripping their uniforms and doing acrobatic moves down the hallways.
"What's weird about the video is there's these people that can do things with their body in very little fabric that will amaze you and it's great," DeLonge said. "They're called women. No, but there's these guys doing flips and weird sh--, it's crazy."
"Feeling This" was the first song Blink-182 recorded for their untitled (not self-titled) new album, due November 18.
"It's a song about the two sides of sex," Hoppus said. "One side being very lustful and passionate and the other side being very romantic and loving. And so the verses are Tom screaming about a situation, a very lustful situation. And the chorus is a lot more romantic and a lot more, I don't know what to say ... poetic, yeah."
Hoppus, DeLonge and Barker picked "Feeling This" as the first single because they felt it was representative of the transition the band has undergone since Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (see "Blink-182 Tone Down Pranks, Get Down To Real 'Action' On Next LP").
"It definitely lets you discover a few more things that we've been doing," DeLonge said. "It's a good introduction to what the record showcases later, 'cause the record is an hour long and much different in so many ways than what we've done in the past, so I think this song is a good indicator of different musical directions. But nothing on the record sounds alike, so I kind of just contradicted myself."
The song and the video may seem to be unrelated, but the band insists they tie together.
"The boys and the girls are separated [throughout] the whole video and they finally get to meet up and they're touching each other for the first time," DeLonge explained. "It's kind of a release of sexual energy."
"Like an orgasm," Barker added.
The "Feeling This" video will debut on "Making the Video" later this month.