Travis Barker is done talking about Tom DeLonge and the details surrounding last year’s Blink-182 breakup.
Turns out he’s still got a bit of the ol’ vitriol bubbling inside, and he’s not shy about letting it boil over. You just have to ask him about “No It Isn’t,” a song on Plus-44’s upcoming album, When Your Heart Stops Beating (see “Plus-44 Address Blink Breakup On LP, Want Fans To ‘Hear The Truth’ “ ). And then just sit back and observe an eruption of Mentos-and-Diet-Coke proportions.
“That song is absolutely about the end of Blink-182,” Barker said. “It was a classic case of something bad happening and everyone around you not telling you what the deal was. Like the owner of your record label telling you, ‘Oh, everything is going to be fine. Any press you do, Travis, make sure you say everything is cool!’ And it turns out the same dude is part of the conspiracy of Tom quitting Blink. The only reason we were being cool and calling it an ‘indefinite hiatus’ is because that’s what this dork at the head of our record label was telling us. So that’s when you find out that everyone was conspiring against you. That makes you go, ‘F— you. Here’s a song about the real deal.’ ”
Barker is presumably ranting about Jordan Schur, the former president of Geffen Records (which released Blink’s self-titled final album in 2003). Schur announced the formation of his own imprint, Suretone Records, in March and released We Don’t Need To Whisper, the debut from DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves, in May. And while he’s obviously off Barker’s Christmas list, Schur’s not the only target of Barker’s anger. Witness, if you will, part two of his screed:
“[‘No It Isn’t’] is about coming out a year later and telling the truth,” Barker said. “About being like, ‘Yeah, we were on our way to go play a tsunami benefit [February 2005’s Music for Relief: Rebuilding South Asia], and Tom didn’t call, but his manager did, and he said that Tom couldn’t contain his sh– long enough to play a song for people who were suffering, which was pretty sad to me. And obviously we weren’t going to say anything bad about him while we were recording our record, but now that it’s done, we are gonna talk about it. For a year, people were saying that what Tom did was valid or called for. It eats at you. So maybe you have to talk about it, and maybe you have to write a song about it.”
And while Barker could continue, he stops himself and takes a deep breath. Because there are actually other songs on Heart to talk about — 11 more, to be exact. While a final sequence has yet to be determined, the tunes that will make up the album are “Lycanthrope,” “Baby Come On,” “Little Death,” “155,” “Lillian,” “Cliff Diving,” “Weatherman,” “No It Isn’t,” “Make You Smile,” “Chapter 13,” an electro-instrumental dubbed “Interlude” and the title track, which the band shot a video for earlier this month with director Liz Friedlander (see “Plus-44 Announce Tour Dates — For Real This Time” ).
“There’s been so much written about the album without anyone hearing it, so it’s cool to actually talk about some of the songs,” Barker’s Plus partner, Mark Hoppus, laughed. ” ‘Make You Smile,’ is probably the most electronic song on the record, and it’s one of my favorites. Travis had the idea of having a girl sing half the lyrics, and so we had [former Get the Girl frontwoman] Carol [Heller] come down and sing on it. But when we moved into the studio, I was taking over more of the vocals, and Carol wanted to go start a family with her husband, so she decided to leave. It was a mutual decision. But her voice is still on the song, and I think it’s beautiful.
“Also, a lot of people have written stuff about this album being really dark and introspective,” Hoppus added. “And that’s sort of true. There’s some really heavy, baring-of-my-soul songs, and then there are songs like ‘Cliff Diving’ or ‘When Your Heart Stops Beating,’ which are really positive and incredibly fun.”
And that sentiment is echoed by Barker, who wants fans to know that while there is some fairly dark territory mined on Heart, it’s definitely an album full of, well, “ups.”
“The record is a rollercoaster,” Barker said. “It’s not all tragedy and sorrow. It takes you to different places. To me, it brings up feelings of, like, driving too fast or skateboarding down the street in the middle of the night. In fact, everything about this band has given me that feeling: Writing a new song, playing our first show, looking at the artwork for our first album, they’re all ups. And that feeling is all over this record.”