Blink-182's "Adam's Song" doesn't sport the same brand of speedy, humorous pop-punk that fueled the trio's previous hits, but that hasn't stopped it from rocketing up the charts.
The new single is more serious, admits singer/bassist Mark Hoppus, who said he wrote the song which is #1 on Radio & Records' Alternative chart and #2 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart during a period of loneliness.
"When you're on tour, you're so lonely," Hoppus explained. "You hang out with all your bros and it's a great time and everything, but everybody wants to come home and have a girlfriend. And every time we'd fly home, [singer/guitarist] Tom [DeLonge] and [former drummer] Scott [Raynor] always had girlfriends waiting for them at the airport, and I didn't. It's about me being depressed and lonely out on tour, and not really having anything to come home to."
Dealing with those emotions isn't limited to just wanting a relationship, said Hoppus, who is now engaged to be married in late November. "People have all kinds of stuff that goes on," he said. "But whatever your personal demons are, find the strength to fight them, and realize that there are better things ahead."
That message comes through in "Adam's Song," in which the first two verses describe the pain and sorrow of contemplating suicide ("I'm too depressed to carry on/ You'll be sorry when I'm gone") before realizing "Tomorrow holds such better days/ Days when I can still feel alive/ When I can't wait to get outside" (RealAudio excerpt).
Katie, an 18-year-old fan from San Francisco who runs a Web site devoted to the group, said the song's honesty works. "It deals with a period that everyone has once experienced in their life," said Katie, who asked that her last name not be used. "Fans of all ages can relate if you're older you can recall how tough it was, and if you're younger you know how it feels to fight the pain the song is expressing."
The song's instrumentation and arrangement use piano and a slower, more balladic feel that departs from the group's typically fast-paced antics, but Hoppus said there wasn't a lot of forethought put into the track.
"We just recorded it all with drums, guitar, bass and vocals," Hoppus recalled. "And then we realized, 'Well, this part here could sound rad if we put piano in here.' So we tried it out, and it sounded rad.
"We just write songs, and we put 'em on the record if we think they're decent songs. If we wanted to write a whole record of serious, introspective songs, we would. And if we wanted to write a record of all fart-joke songs, we'd totally do that as well."
"It's cool that they are broadening their horizons," Katie said.
Asked if he was surprised by the song's success, Chris Muckley, music director at San Diego's XTRA-FM, replied, "Are you kidding me? It's Blink-182."
"It's really close to being our #1 requested song, and all our audience response has been extremely positive," he said. "It shows they're not a one-trick pony, and it's huge in every way it could possibly be huge."
Blink-182, whose lineup also includes drummer Travis Barker, formed in 1993 in the San Diego suburb of Poway. Their latest album, Enema of the State (1999), is four-times platinum and spawned the hits "What's My Age Again?" (RealAudio excerpt) and "All the Small Things" (RealAudio excerpt).
Thursday, the band will kick off a North American tour at San Diego's Coors Amphitheater with Bad Religion and Fenix*TX opening.