(Note: this interview first appeared in FRONT 166, available here, which also features Slayer, While She Sleeps, Lower Than Atlantis and so much other amazingness that you definitely need it in your life.)
Hi Mark! It’s a weird surname, Hoppus. You’re the only one we’ve ever encountered.
It’s Swiss and German. My dad traced our lineage all the way back – it turns out Hoppus is a unit used for measuring quantities of dried wood.
Awesome. How’s shit right now?
I’m good, it’s super fun. I love the reaction we’ve had to the new record, and the turnout we’ve had for the shows in the States. We had to postpone our last tour here because we hadn’t finished the record, so we postponed it til this summer, and after the initial shock wore off and people realized where we were coming from, there weren’t many returns and we actually ended up adding more shows. We just sold out the Eden Project in two hours.
When you postponed it, were people pissed?
Oh, they were, rightfully so. It was a giant bumout for us postponing the tour. It was one of the most difficult and expensive decisions we’ve made as a band, but it was the right call. We don’t want to be one of those bands that goes “Hey, remember that cool shit we did ten years ago? Well, here it is again!” We’d either have had to do the tour only playing old songs or put out an album that was kind of shitty. We made a difficult decision, but this’ll be great.
Do you keep on top of feedback from people with stuff like that? Is it hard?
The hardest thing for me was that people don’t understand how tours are booked. We announced the postponement of the European tour and then three weeks later announced the on-sale of the US tour. People – understandably but incorrectly – thought that we’d postponed the tour here to do the States instead. People were like “Oh, you just think you’ll make more money over there”. That wasn’t the case at all – both tours were booked at the same time, and Europe was the first leg, so postponing it gave us time to finish the record.
Expensive, you say?
Oh, it cost us a lot of money. There were deposits down, crew booked, staff booked. It was a very expensive decision but I stand by it.
It feels like there are quite a few songs you never play live, like The Party Song.
We did it on our last tour, I don’t think we’d ever played it before. There were some people in the front chanting “Party song! Party song!” – normally our set’s really planned out because of the scale of the production, so we rarely go off-track, but I wondered if I could play it, so started, then Tom and Travis joined in, and we got to the chorus and it fell the fuck apart. We played nearby the next night, and some kids had obviously heard, because they were chanting it as well, so we played it again and got it right.
We’re here in London today – hey Mark, why do you live in London?
We wanted a different experience, both for ourselves and for our son. I’ve always liked it here, the people are cool and I like the history. I grew up in Southern California, which I love, but it’s exactly the opposite of here. It’s always sunny, you have to drive everywhere, and there’s no history. The flat I live in here was built long before LA.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned about?
Page 3! I learned about that today, and it’s fascinating to me. I want to learn a lot more about the world in general, and I’m very blessed that I get to have a job where I travel to different places and get to live wherever I want.
After five months, has the novelty of being here worn off?
Not at all. Even the bitter cold is a nice change. I get to wear my jackets and coats now – living in California I’ve got loads of nice jackets that are just sitting in my house, and now I get to use them.
How do people in the street treat you over here?
It’s strange, I get recognized more here than I do in Los Angeles. I think Blink has a special relationship with the UK. It’s different than anywhere else in the world for sure. I think it’s because the UK has such a strong relationship with music, and such a loyalty to music, especially rock music. There’s a real connection to it.
Do you ever get weird stuff like “Hey! Billie Joe!”?
People always go “Tom! Tom!” Recently in New York I had a guy go “You’re in Blink 182!” I said “Yeah, thanks” and he said “Which one are you?” “Uh, I’m Mark” “Oh. Which one is that?” I didn’t know how to explain it.
Is your son going to grow up with a British accent then?
I think he’s old enough now that he’s not going to pick up an accent. But I’m learning to call things different. Like over here when you say you’re going to the toilet, that sounds really rude to me. In America if you say to someone “Where’s your toilet?” you might as well say “Where’s the seat I sit on to take a shit?” – that’s basically what you’re saying, whereas over here you’re just asking for the room where that happens. Or over here you’ll say “Where’s your bathroom?” and people are like “You want to take a shower in my house? You can’t shower here”.
Is there anything you refuse to let enter your vocabulary?
I refuse to say “pop in”. My wife’ll say it, like “I’ll just pop it in the oven”, and I hate her for it. I won’t be party to that at all.
There’s the whole “fanny” thing as well…
That I learned the hard way. You know those satchels you strap around your waist? Yeah, if you ask for a fanny-pack here they look at you funny. Also I like how you say cunt a lot over here. In America if you throw that word around you’ll get hit.
You’re in a sweary band. Do you have to be un-sweary around your son?
My approach with him and swear words is that he’s going to say them, and I’m not gonna fool myself into thinking he won’t. I explained it to him like this – in class you pay attention, you listen to the teacher, and you behave in a certain way. When you go outside you can run around and do somersaults. Bad words are like that – there are situations where it’s cool to use them and others where it isn’t, and the trick to being a human being is learning that. That being said, he’ll go “Well how come you say fuck in front of 10,000 people?” He’s also just at the age where he’s starting to understand dick jokes. There was a commercial the other day that said “Collect all the balls”. He started giggling and pointing at the TV, and turning to me like “Eh? Get it? Balls?” That was my proudest moment as a father. I felt the torch had been passed.
When he’s a teenager, will he have to upset you with his music choices?
Probably. It’s cyclical, you have to hate what your parents love. We were driving around in Los Angeles once and a Blink song came on. I said “Check it out, Blink 182 on the radio!” and he said “Yeah, that’s cool, but you’re not in my top three.” He likes Metric, Vampire Weekend and Silversun Pickups. He’s a little hipster.
You’re turning 40 this year. That’s REALLY OLD.
I was afraid of thirty, and then it happened and I was like “I’m the youngest adult in here, I am kicking everybody’s ass”. I guess turning 40 I get to be the world’s youngest old person. It’s unknown territory, especially for someone whose whole identity is about my college years. 40 is the great unknown.
Will you have to stop finding fart jokes funny?
I don’t think so. Everything in life is about state of mind. I’ve been making dick jokes since I was a kid. I don’t ever see myself not finding a fart funny. And everyone finds someone getting kicked in the nuts funny.
So you’ve been enjoying a gin with us today…
I am a gin enthusiast, yes. Originally I was drinking port wine, and one night we ran out of port and all I could find was some gin left over form a party or something, and I mixed it with Diet Coke because it was all I could find. I’m really into it now. On the last tour we also got really into Jagermeister. After the shows, after everything was packed up, me and the crew would destroy a frozen bottle of Jager.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
About an hour before we walk on stage I’ll pour a drink, start stretching and start warming up my voice. Then ten minutes before we go on stage I’ll pour another drink and clean my teeth – I feel like the mintiness of the toothpaste opens up parts of my throat or something, it’s all completely psychosomatic. We’ll do knuckles or high-fives and run out and do the show. There’s a toothbrush and toothpaste on my rider, in case I forget.
Do you request any stupid stuff on your rider as well?
We used to demand lesbian-themed pornos at every venue. Just a tasteful undercurrent of lesbianism. As you go on, you realise that everything you put on your rider comes out of your pocket. If you’re headlining a show, all the money goes into a pot, and you pay for the support, security, lights, sound, production, everything. All the food people eat backstage, all the stuff in your dressing room, it all comes out of that pot. You can put anything you want on your rider, you’ll just be broke. It’s like, go ahead, trash your hotel room, you’re paying for it. Break everything in there, they’ll charge you accordingly.
You’re touring in June, but is there anything else you’d like to plug?
Just me as a person. I just want people to like me. I try really hard.