|Blink-182's popularity has only increased since their formation in 1993, with their records reaping platinum and their concert tours packing in droves of fans all across Europe, Australia, Asia and the Americas. Recently, Guitar Center caught up with Blink bassist, Mark Hoppus, to talk about touring, basses and success.
GC: The last time we spoke, you guys were on "The Mark, Tom and Travis Show" tour. Since then you guys have released a new multi-platinum album and you've toured the world. What's changed? Are you doing anything different now than you were then?
Mark: In general, with the live performances, we're bringing in a lot more fire. We've brought a lot more lights. The Mark, Tom and Travis Show was awesome. We had a lot of fun on that tour. But as far as the stage set went, it was a little kitschy. It was a set. It was supposed to look like a drive-in movie theater. I liked having the screen behind us because a big part of our show is me, Tom, and Travis' interactions with each other. It provided a chance for kids to see our faces. I thought it looked cool just because it had a bunch of B-Movie footage shooting behind us the whole time. But, we're trying not to do so much of a set or a theme; we're just trying to put on a really good show with a lot of stuff. So we're bringing out a lot more fire. We're bringing out more lighting rigs just in general and just concentrating more on a good show, rather than a set.
GC: You guys are actually getting ready to gear up with Green Day. It's rare that you see two headliners share a stage like that. What's the thought process behind the tour?
Mark: We were flying to Las Vegas to do a TV show one day and we were talking about the tour this summer and shooting ideas around. We were joking around and we said we needed something like the F--king Monster's of Rock tour like back in the 80's or whenever it was that the Monster's of Rock tour came out. And I said, "We should do like the Monster's of Punk tour and get a gigantic band like Green Day to come out and we'll co-headline." We were kind of joking around about it, but the more we talked about it, the more it made sense. Our manager called their manager and the bands were into it. We met them and talked about it. It's cool! I think it will be a fun tour. I think it'll be good for the kids because we're really trying to keep ticket prices as low as we possibly can. And at the same time, I think we'll bring out a good show for the kids to see.
GC: Recently, Fender released your signature bass and Tom's signature guitar. What's different between the Mark Hoppus bass and any other kind of Fender bass?
Mark: When we were recording "Enema of the State," we were going back and forth between two basses. Actually, we were going back and forth between three basses. We were using a Fender P-Bass that I bought off the rack at Guitar Center. We were using a Fender Jazz Bass on some parts of some songs. And then we were also using an Ernie Ball Musicman. And we ended up using predominantly Fender basses on the songs. But, it was kind of like we were shuffling--we were battling between the P-Bass and the Jazz Bass. So I started thinking it would be rad if we could join the two together. So I took a Jazz Bass body because I thought it looked really cool and gives a good tone and then I put a P-Bass neck on it because it's a wider neck and it's easier to play--especially for my style, which isn't so much finger work. It has a little wider neck on it so it's a lot easier to play. And I love the springy bright sound of the P-Bass pickups, so I put the P-Bass pickups in the body.
GC: Is it weird now to see a lot of the kids playing the same bass you play? Wasn't the individuality of the bass part of the reason for making it custom? Did that thought process go through your head when you decided to allow Fender to release the bass?
Mark: Not really, I mean I thought it was a cool idea for a bass and I loved the way it looks. And I think it sounds amazing. And the pickups that are put in the bass are really good quarter pound pickups. I think it sounds really good, so I don't really have that attitude where it's just for me to play and I want to be different from everybody else. I think it's a good idea, so I hope other people think it's a good idea also.
GC: What do you think of the bass rig you have now? What are you using and why?
Mark: I'm using my Fender signature bass into two Ampeg SVT4PRO heads which split off into three Ampeg SVT810-E cabinets. It's a super road worthy rig. And the Ampeg SVT4PRO's are pretty much the best sounding solid-state amp that's out there and I love having that reliability. It makes a really good sound on stage, also.
GC: Now you use wireless too, correct?
Mark: Yeah. I think it's a Shure wireless. I'm not entirely positive though.
||GC: What's the coolest recent addition to your setup?
Mark: The coolest recent addition is, on the last tour, we spray painted the front of the grills on my amps to look like a 70's van. It has a wizard and a unicorn and a rainbow. It just looks like one of those really bad 70's vans that drive around with a gladiator woman riding on top of a polar bear kind of attitude. So that's pretty much the raddest thing I've added to my rig in awhile.
GC: What's the next thing you'd like to get; what's on your wish list?
Mark: The next thing I'd like to get would be some more basses just because I like having new basses to play on tour. I'd love to put another fourth cabinet out there just because the louder you can get, the better. I guess that would be the only thing that I would change. What I really wish is that I could bring some tube amps out on the road and have them be road worthy. But for me, somehow it's been pretty hard to find reliable tube amps. So a really roadworthy tube amp would be pretty much the best thing in the world.
GC: Do you use any tube amps in the studio?
Mark: Oh yeah, definitely. We used an Ampeg SVTCL on the entire "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" album.
GC: Both Tom and Travis recently have finished or are working on side projects. What have you been doing with your time off?
Mark: Playing golf.
GC: Say I'm an intermediate player, and I already have the basic setup and want to expand. What's the next thing I should get to improve my sound?
Mark: Probably the best thing you can do to improve your sound is just practice. If you have a decent rig, then just practice...and I should take my own advice!
GC: Do you have a home studio? And if so, what's in it, and what do you think about the equipment you have?
Mark: I don't have a home studio. The only piece of musical equipment that I have in my house is an acoustic guitar, which is what I write songs on. I leave all that stuff separate from my house.
GC: All too frequently, like on VH1's "Behind the Music," you see all the drama of how the dating or marriage relationships of the members affect a band. With each of you being married or in a relationship, what has changed within Blink? How do you guys cope with being away from home for weeks or months at a time?
Mark: We bring our wives with us when we're out on tour. All of us are friends together so it's like a big, traveling, f--king barbecue. We just hang out. It's pretty easy. We respect each other out on tour and we give each other our privacy. But we all still hang out and have a lot of fun.
GC: So road life has changed from how it used to be?
Mark: Oh definitely. We used to travel by ourselves and sleep on people's floors and drive around in a van. Now we're lucky enough that we get buses and we're pretty comfortable.
GC: What advice would you have for a young player who might want to model their career after yours? What would you say to someone who asks, "How can I be successful and get to where you are?"
Mark: I'd say don't worry so much about being successful. Just worry more about performing music that you love. Success is hard to pin down how you can get there. I mean, it's a lot of hard work and it's a lot of luck. Concentrate more on playing music and don't worry so much about being successful. Success comes to people who enjoy what they're doing. So that's the best advice that I can give.
GC: You're a multi-platinum superstar. You've got more money than you know what to do with. You've got a successful clothing company and you've toured the world tons of times. What'snext? Do you have any other goals?
Mark: Just to write better songs, to continue to play music and to write songs that I enjoy. And to keep doing what I love doing with all my friends.
GC: Finally, do you still shop at Guitar Center at all? And what do you think about it?
Mark: I've always shopped at Guitar Center. I bought my first bass there. The first bass that I bought was a Fender P-bass that I bought off the rack at a Guitar Center in L.A. Yeah, I think there's a lot of selection. Hopefully you don't get the guy with the really, really long hair that just plays f--king "Stairway to Heaven" in front of you for 45 minutes.