Q&A: Mark Hoppus
Photo by Megan Thompson
Blink-182 is the first punk band to become a resident headliner in Las Vegas, having booked 16 Kings of the Weekend dates at the newly renovated Pearl Concert Theater inside Palms. Bassist Mark Hoppus gave Las Vegas Magazine’s Matt Kelemen the latest on the plans he, drummer Travis Barker and guitarist Matt Skiba have for the upcoming shows, which begin May 26, and the fans’ reaction.
You’re at 3.13 million Twitter followers now. How many have you added since blink‐182 was in Las Vegas last September for Life is Beautiful?
Probably about, I would say, 150 (thousand). It kind of stayed steady at 3 million for about two or three years now.
It keeps going up and up.
Yeah, it’s incrementally just kind of cruising upwards. I joined Twitter early on, and went and visited the Twitter offices because I was such a fan of the platform. Subsequently they were really kind. Just as Twitter was about to take off they put me up on their People You Might Want to Follow page, when you first join, and so I got a lot of followers very early on from that. Over the past, like I said, two or three years it’s been steadily crawling upwards. It’s cool. I love it.
You have more than Travis and Matt combined. I imagine during the residency it will escalate even more, but were you guys thinking about doing something like this as far back as the last time you were here in Vegas?
We’ve been talking about it for the past year, so yeah, it was being discussed when we played last year there, and we were very excited about it but had no idea it would catch on as much as it has. I mean, we were excited to do the residency in Las Vegas, but I was walking the National Mall in D.C. back in March and people were stopping me at the National Mall saying, “We’ve got tickets for your show in Vegas.” Everywhere that I go people that I had no idea would even follow blink-182 were going, “Oh, man! I’m stoked about your new residency in Vegas. That’s going to be awesome!” It’s taken on a life of its own that we didn’t even expect.
There definitely has not been a punk rock residency, so it’s a watershed moment for both Vegas headliner history and punk rock.
Yeah, we’re excited, and we’re excited to do it at the Palms. They’re redoing the whole hotel and it’s going to be a really cool new experience and we’re excited.
Did the idea originate from within the band or from management? Or was there an offer from the Palms?
We’ve been talking about it for a while. I don’t know where the idea originated, but, yeah, it’s something that we’ve been discussing for a while and I’m real happy with how it ended up.
Travis has a history with Vegas nightlife. I imagine a residency was a no-brainer for him.
Yeah, absolutely. I think Vegas is a great opportunity for people all over to come and have a great weekend, and partake in all that Las Vegas has to offer. See a show and have some fun, and make it a cool thing.
Has the fan reaction been consistently supportive since you broke the news?
I don’t follow everything that happens online, but I try to read as many of the comments on Twitter and Instagram as I can, and I haven’t seen any negative reaction whatsoever. Everybody’s really supportive and really excited that a rock band is doing a residency in Vegas, and we’re definitely going to pull out all the stops to insure and try to make it as fun a show as possible for everyone that comes out.
It’s been a minute since you made the announcement, when you said, “The possibilities in Vegas are endless.” Have you let ideas simmer that are more specific than casting showgirls and drafting the set list?
We have a very important meeting in the next week or so where we have to decide which elements … we told our production crew that we have to pull out all the stops to make it something really special and exciting, that people walk away from shaking their heads in awe, saying, “What the hell did I just see?” We told them our wish list of everything, all the production elements from lighting to staging to gags to pyro to cryogenics to laser light, every single thing we could think of. And they sent us over what we’re able to do, and we have to cull through that and put together a show. It’s a lot of fun.
So the residency allows more room to loosen up?
Well, we want to make a show that appeals to people who are huge blink-182 fans, who have been following us forever and want to see some of the older stuff, some of the deeper cuts, but we also want to put on a great show for people who are in Vegas for the weekend, who decide, “I want to see blink-182,” so we’re trying to put together a set that will appeal to hardcore fans as well as people who are coming out to their first blink-182 show.
Are you going to change up the set lists for people who want to come more than once?
That’s the idea, is that every weekend or every show would be slightly different from the others. That being said, we were going to have full production, a lot of moving lights and elements that kind of anchor the show, so there will be standards that we play every night and then the other songs we’ll move around and do new stuff or deeper cuts, but we don’t want to do the same show every night for 16 shows.
Have you discussed playing an entire album, like Enema of the State, at some point?
We talked about that. Next year will be 20 years of Enema of the State, so it’s definitely something we’ve talked about and is on the horizon. I don’t know that we’ll do a whole album for the residency in Vegas, but it’s definitely something that we plan to do in the future. I don’t know if the residency it the right place to do that. Like I said, there’s going to be people there who are just coming out to their first show, and we wanna come out with all the hits as well.
What about special guests? Are there going to be opening acts, or will anyone join you onstage for a song?
Absolutely. We want our friends to come out and join us onstage. It depends on who’s in town that weekend or who wants to come out that weekend, but depending on who’s in town and their availability we want them to come out and do different things, make every single show as special as we can.
According to Pollstar, the only place you’re going to be able to catch blink-182 live this year from Memorial Day Weekend onward will be at the Pearl Concert Theater. Do you see any other live commitments coming up 2018?
We have shows back east. We do not really have anything booked on the West Coast at this point. There may be shows that pop up here and there, but we are not doing a proper tour in 2018 other than the residency in Vegas. That is our main commitment for 2018, and getting in and writing the next record as well.
What can blink-182 get done with minimal travel commitments, that touring did not allow?
The Palms has a great studio in the building, and since we’re going to be there so much we talked about spending time in Las Vegas after and before the shows, getting into the studio there and working out ideas or recording songs for the next record.
That’s pretty unprecedented too. I don’t think anyone’s used the Palms studio like that before.
I thought the Killers did?
They recorded there but they didn’t have a residency that kept them playing shows and completely immersed in playing live and recording at the Palms. Nobody’s done anything like that before.
I couldn’t think of a much better day than waking up, going to the studio, working for the better part of a day in the studio and then going onstage and playing shows live. It’s everything I like about the band wrapped up in one day.
Do you and your family still live in London or are you back in the States?
We live back in the States now. We live in Los Angeles.
So this is an easy commute for you.
Yeah, totally. It’s a pretty easy commute back and forth to Vegas, and we get to spend most of the week at home with family and then spend the weekends partying it up in Vegas. … I can’t even tell you the number of people who have hit me up and said, “Hey, we’re coming to Vegas for the weekend.” Like I said, it’s a perfect place for people to come out and enjoy the weekend in Las Vegas, get to see them and come see a blink show.
Have you talked about having a himynameismark.com pop up shop?
We have not. We talked about having a pop up blink-182 shop, but I haven’t talked about doing a himynameismark pop up shop. But that’s a great idea, I might steal it from you.
Take it. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask, but does Tom have an invitation to join the band live?
We haven’t really talked about that at all. I mean, there’s no hard feeling or bad blood between us and Tom. He’s doing his thing and we support him entirely, but we haven’t talked about him coming out at all.