"Don't leave me." "So sorry, it's over." "I think it's time that I should leave." "Will the last one out please shut the door?"
Tom DeLonge's so-called indefinite hiatus from Blink-182 may have come out of nowhere this week, but in retrospect, it looks like he and fellow founding member Mark Hoppus gave us years' worth of foreshadowing lyrics, not to mention an entire self-titled album chronicling the beginning, middle and end of a relationship. The public back-and-forth that has taken place between them since Sunday has been a lot of things -- acrimonious, confusing, childish (the latter being par for the course for guys who made a living acting like permanent teenagers) -- but for anyone who has followed the group since its late-1990s heyday, "surprising" is not among them.
There are a variety of reasons why the end was almost to be expected, but first, a quick history lesson: Though the duo had done moderately well in pop-punk-friendly Southern California in the mid-'90s, and later enjoyed huge mainstream success after adding drummer Travis Barker, Hoppus and DeLonge were unable to keep the band together, and in 2005 watched both the band and their personal relationship disintegrate so completely that they pulled out of an Indonesian tsunami benefit show, deciding that having to stand on the same stage was not worth helping raise money for disaster victims.
After all three had moved on to other projects and interests, they reunited in 2009 after Barker had narrowly escaped death in a plane crash. But the years since have been far from fruitful, yielding just over an album's worth of new songs that did not come close to recapturing the magic that put Blink-182 on the map to begin with. It now looks very possible that the trio has played together for the last time, as Hoppus and Barker have enlisted a guest guitarist to fill in on upcoming dates to which the band had already committed to play.
DeLonge's departure, as well as how abruptly it occurred (and how publicly it was announced by his scorned bandmates), may have seemed surprising, but in reality the latest Blink-182 hiatus was not hard to see coming. Here's why:
Money first, music second. The name Blink-182 is as much a commodity as it is a musical identity. Today, the band's official web site offers no news, no band-member bios, no music for sale; instead, the entire site is devoted to selling apparel and accessories emblazoned with the group's name and logo. A quick conclusion would be that perhaps these guys are at this point more about moving merch, and less about making music.
No new music. One possible reason why music isn't available on the site is because there hasn't been any for years. Though the band hyped up its 2009 return with an on-stage announcement at the Grammys and a full-blown tour, the years since have yielded only a mediocre full-length album (which Barker told Rolling Stone earlier this week that DeLonge "didn't even care about") and a self-produced five-song EP. In the same time period, Angels & Airwaves -- the band DeLonge started after Blink-182's initial demise a decade ago -- has released five studio albums and a couple of films, so it's not like the band members are out of ideas.
Separate lives in separate places. Hoppus admitted to Rolling Stone of himself and Barker, "I don't think either of us have spoken to Tom in person in months." The lack of communication between band members is startling to read about. It is, however, not surprising. Once the band got huge in the late 1990s, Hoppus packed up and moved to Hollywood, putting him and the others in different cities. Today he lives a full continent away, in London, with Barker in Los Angeles and DeLonge in San Diego. Hoppus says that, years removed from its last release, plans to record new music had not gotten beyond each member recording ideas and storing them on personal hard drives, to be shared whenever the three could finally get to the same place at the same time.
Too much time gone by. By the time that Barker's plane crash brought the trio back together, all had gone on to other high-profile projects. Despite his laughably bombastic claims that Angels & Airwaves would singlehandedly redefine rock music, DeLonge's follow-up act has maintained a fiercely loyal fan base for nearly a decade; Hoppus found a home hosting a program on the Fuse network; and Barker starred in his own MTV reality show. Trying to reunite three people who had not only gone their own ways, but found success after Blink-182, was doomed to fail. The band certainly had a financial incentive to tour, but after so much time apart, its members weren't going to be able to write music that sounded like Blink-182 anymore.
That ship has sailed. While fans have clamored to see the band play festivals and other one-off shows, there is simply not much interest in, or room for, new Blink-182 music in 2015. From its inception, anything other than a nostalgia-based second coming was going to be impossible in large part because a huge amount of its hit songs and videos were about being young, and it's hard to imagine three middle-age fathers still able to write snarky material about the prom and sneaking out of the house to meet girls.
Had the feud not been made so public this week, and had the three people involved actually spoken to each other instead of sending messages through reporters and social networks, we might be able to envision more material from Blink-182 in the future. It's hard to see it happening now, though.
Perhaps if they want to record new music, Hoppus and Barker should resurrect their own post-Blink-182 band, +44. If nothing else, it would give them an excuse to unearth their song "No It Isn't" and, in the process, have an all-new reason to sing the words, "Please understand, this isn't just 'goodbye,' this is 'I can't stand you.'"