Dispatches from Blink 182's intimate benefit show last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg report the ageless pop-punk champions opened their encore with "Carousel," a cut from their loose and fast 1994 debut Cheshire Cat. Logic suggests that whether this was one of the more memorable three-minute spans of someone's concert-going experience or just a sweaty start to the end of the night comes down to two factors: (1) a person's age and (2) their natural reflexes to nostalgia. But logic can be misleading. Last night determined that, though the age-level entry point for Blink 182 fandom has stayed put over the years at around 12 or 13, it's not contained to one generational pool.
Photographer Nadia Chaudhury and I stopped by Music Hall an hour before doors opened—before the 140-character cries of this being the best night everrrr(!!!!) rang out in bulk and three grown men suspended in their teenage years wreaked havoc—to talk to the fans whose love for the band runs deep, whether or not "Carousel" soundtracked the peak of their hormonal awkwardness in 1994.
P.S. A 22-year-old would've been 3 when Cheshire Cat was released.
Do you remember how old you were when you first started listening to these guys?
The first time I remember listening to Blink, I was driving with my Dad in the car, and we were listening to "All the Small Things" on the radio. I commented—because Tom [DeLonge] has a very exaggerated voice—"Where's he from? He has such a weird accent." And my Dad was like, "He just sings like that." I was maybe 9 or 10, and I've been listening to them ever since.
I like that you're Dad's involved in this story.
He's the one that got me into Blink.
Do you have a favorite album of theirs?
Do you have a specific memory or time in your life that's linked to that album?
[Someone else in line jumps into the convo] I liked this kid, who was a skateboarder, and his favorite song was "Dick Lips!"
Amanda: The only really specific memory is when I saw them in concert. This is the first time I've seen them since 2009 in Long Island. It was really, really cool. Mark got a bass—I think from Fall Out Boy, because they were on tour together—and he threw it onto Jones Beach. He was like, "This is for you guys!" I was horrified. Like, "Why are you doing that?! Give it to me!"
Some people consider them a "guilty pleasure," since they lean towards the pop side of punk. Does hearing them called that bother you at all?
It doesn't bother me so much because everyone has different music tastes, but it's just kinda funny to me. Some people are ashamed. I'll be talking to someone and somehow Blink will come up, and they'll be like, [shyly] "Yeah, I listen to Blink." I'm like, "Dude, I have their tattoo on my shoulder. Blink's awesome."
I gotta ask about your tattoo, then.
It was my second tattoo. I got it back in Huntington, back on Long Island. I don't know if you can see it [shows her shoulder], but it's just the smiley face logo. Everyone was like, "Why are you getting a Blink tattoo?!" They're a band that made me and my Dad have something to talk about when I was young. Me and my Dad weren't really close; he wasn't around much when I was little. But when we were together, we were always listening to Blink 182.
Is he still a fan too?
Yeah, he is. He messaged me on Facebook today and was like, "You're waiting in line to see Blink?! Why didn't you give me the extra ticket?!" I'm like, "Dad, you're 43-years-old."
So I'm told you came here from Seattle? Specifically for this show?
So I went out to visit my family in Chicago, and I went to the show there... Wait, one second. [leaves for a few minutes to get a picture taken with Travis, who's being swarmed by fans as he's escorted into the venue] ...Sorry about that! So I found out about this show while I was there and decided to come to New York for it.
Do you remember how old you were when you first started getting into them?
The first time I heard them, I was probably 11. I was at a friend's house, and I thought [the album] was really offensive. I told my parents about it. I obviously listened to them later and was like, "They're pretty awesome." I started really getting into them when I was around 13 or 14.
Would you say they were one of the first punk bands you ever listened to, or were you already listening to this type of music at that age?
I really liked The Offspring first, then Blink from there.
Favorite album or song?
Self-titled is probably my favorite.
If someone calls them a "guilty pleasure," does that make you mad?
No, not really. But I know people will be kinda weirded out when I say they're my favorite band.
Do you think they've influenced the type of music you listen to now?
Sure, and the type of music I play. I play drums and guitar...
Do you remember how you first started listening to Blink?
I was 11. My older brother had a copy of Dude Ranch.
Do you have any specific memories tied to listening to that album?
His friend gave him the CD because he hated it and was like, "Here, take this." He took it home and played it in the bedroom. I was like, "Oh, this is fantastic!"
Is your brother still a fan as well?
Yeah, he's coming now. He's on his way...
Do you think Dude Ranch was your first taste of punk music?
Listening to it now, do you feel any sort of disconnect in how you relate to it?
Oh, no. Just the opposite. I feel like a lot of people fell off the bandwagon too easily, and I always questioned why because I've always been happy with them.
Would you say you have a favorite song or album of Blink's?
No, I could never do that. Well, maybe favorite album, the self-titled album.
Do you remember how old you were when you first started listening to Blink and how that happened?
Dustin: I was 10-years-old. I first heard Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and was, like, I have to play drums the rest of my life after hearing Travis. Fuck, yeah.
Did you first hear them on the radio?
Dustin:Nooo. It was a girl I liked. She was into Blink.
Nigel: When I first really started listening to Blink, I was maybe 13 or 12. It was because of him [points to Dustin]. He listened to it all the time, and now they're pretty much all I listen to.
Were they one of the first punk bands you ever really got into?
Nigel: For me, yeah, for sure.
Dustin: They were who introduced me to it. Then from there, I just sort of took off. I would look up what [bands] they liked, then looked up other bands in the genre and what they liked. Then my Australian friend introduced me to ska and reggae and all this stuff, you know.
Have you ever seen them live before?
Yeah, I saw their show in Canada; it was in 2004. They didn't say it at the time, but apparently that was their last show there before they broke up.
Nigel: This is my first time. We flew here from Toronto, just for this show.
Oh, wow. Just for this show?
Nigel: Just for this show!
Dustin: I saw the announcement on a Facebook pop-up and was like, "A 600-person Blink show! Yeah!"
Nigel: He called me and was like, "You better have your passport!"
Do you guys know the band Wavves?
Dustin:No, no I don't. Are they good?
Do you guys remember how old you were when you first started listening to these guys?
Desiree: I started liking them when I was 12 or 13 in middle school. One of my friends got me hooked on them, and I've been a big fan ever since.
Ryker: Freshman year in high school I started hanging out with a different crowd—the fun-having crowd—and we played some of their music in my buddy's basement. We were hooked. There was a while where I was only listening to Blink 182.
What album was that around, do you remember?
Desiree: Enema of the State.
Would you say they were a gateway for you listening to other punk bands ?
Desiree: Yeah, I would definitely say that.
Ryker: I think the Blink 182 sound has grown up with me. When I was 15, the music they were putting out really stuck with me, and now that I'm 23, their newer stuff has absolutely matured.
Can you pinpoint one album or song of theirs that's your favorite?
Ryker: She's not going to like this [nods towards Desiree and laughs] but the Neighborhoods album. "Ferris Wheel Full of Blue-Green Eyes" is my favorite song.
Why that album? Not a lot of people have said that one so far.
Ryker: The first conversation me and her ever had was about that album [nods towards Desiree again].
Do you you remember how you found out about Blink or who introduced them to you?
I was 13 or 14, and they were everywhere.
Do you any specific memories tied to listening to them?
I would say the majority of my adolescence.
Favorite album or song?
Oh, Dude Ranch.
Some people call them a "guilty pleasure" since they swing towards a poppier sound. Does that upset you at all?
I can see people saying that if maybe they're into music that has great technicality, but they have Travis Barker to clear things up.
What is it that really draws you to them or their sound?
I think at this point it's just nostalgia. They've been a part of so much of my life.
I hear an accent. Where are you guys from?
Steve: I'm from the UK.
Brendan: I'm from Australia.
Steve: We've been doing a tour of America, staring out in San Francisco, but we're coming up on the end. A Blink show is a good way to end it.
At what age did you start listening to Blink?
Steve: Eleven or 12. My friends were into them. I grew up skateboarding and playing the guitar. I feel like [listening to them] was one of those natural things that you do.
Brendan: Twelve-years-old. Older brother. That's what they're there for.
Do you remember what album it was that really got you into them?
Steve: Dude Ranch.
Brendan: Yeah, me too.
Would you say they informed the other music you were listening to back then and beyond?
Brendan: Definitely. Having that influence made me realize that there's other music other than what's on the radio. Stuff that's not totally mainstream.
Are you guys familiar with the band Wavves?
There's a band called Wavves whose sound is pretty influenced by Blink...
Brendan: Oh, I thought you meant, "Do you like the sound of waves?" I'm pro-waving. [laughs] Sorry!
Is your first time seeing Blink live?
Brendan:This is my third time this year. But it's my first time seeing them with Travis Barker.
Do you think Blink's sound has grown with the times?
Brendan: It's kinda hard. You can't expect a band to sound the same. They need to explore different avenues. I think they've done what they wanted to do.
Steve: I think Angels & Airways had a really strong influence on their last two albums. So they've definitely changed. They've had to.
Do you remember how old you were when you first came about Blink?
Michelle: They became really big when I was in third grade, but I didn't really start listening to them until maybe eighth grade. I got back into Enema of the State. It's been a 10-year span for me now. Then in high school I was a big Cheshire Cat fan and got into Buddha.
Steven: I used to just listen to their hit songs on, you know, MTV and stuff like that. I didn't start getting really into them until we started dating [nods towards Michelle] three years ago. She was a big fan, so I got into it.
Do you have any specific memories tied to listening to them?
Michelle: High school. Right before college. Me and my friends who were big fans got our other friends into them, and that's all we listened to that summer.
Some people label them "guilty pleasures" because they lean towards poppier punk. Does hearing them called that bug you?
Michelle: I embrace the pop side of punk. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
Steven: I agree. I mean, I just started getting into them, and I think they have a kinda different sound that's really good.
Do you think they've informed your current music tastes?
Michelle: Yeah. I mean, their music is the epitome of what I like now. We just saw Fall Out Boy on Saturday at Barclays, so. It was so good.
What other bands are you guys into right now?
Steven: My favorite band is A Day to Remember. She jokes around a lot [nods towards Michelle] because my favorite band's favorite band is Blink 182, so we've got that going back and forth between us.
I don't think I've heard of those guys...
Michelle [to Steven]: Show her your tattoo.
Steven [lifts his shirt a little to show tattoo and laughs]: One of the guitarists from A Day to Remember has "Blink 182" tattooed on his knuckles, so I turned it around on him.
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.