Pennywise

When You Say “Best Friends” Means Friends Forever

It started with a girl. Last weekend I went to a punk show in Philadelphia. Rancid, Pennywise, and Suicidal Tendencies are all on tour together with a few other bands and they played a well known Philly venue that we all still refer to as the Electric Factory. I was supposed to attend with my friend Ashley and her friend Kelsey, but when Ashley took an offer to sell merch for Rancid, that left me and Kelsey to attend together. I just met Kelsey earlier this month so going to Rancid together really gave us the chance to hang out and get to know each other. We started talking about music and eventually got into talking about Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. They were two of my favorite bands in high school and Kelsey’s all time favorite bands. Since my Rancid hang with Kelsey, I’ve listened to both bands a couple times and for nostalgia’s sake, started reminiscing about how wild it is for someone to love both bands so much given their history.

Again it started with a girl. Jesse Lacey of Brand New and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday were childhood best friends. They both were part of the famed Long Island music scene in the early 2000’s. As rumor has it, at some point in their friendship there was a girl that got in the way. No one knows the exact story of what happened. From what I know, it was something along the lines of Jesse was with a girl that cheated on him with John. It incited a well-known emo music feud between both bands. Songs from both bands’ first albums pointed anger and hatred towards each other (Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven” and Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No “I” in Team”). There was even band merch that did the same (“Because mics are for singing not swinging”, a dig at TBS frontman Adam Lazzara’s mic swinging style and “Proudly Swinging Since 1999”). Yet, while listening to these bands in high school, I loved both of them. Sure, I favored Brand New over Taking Back Sunday, but I definitely loved both and listened to each during certain periods of high school. Most of my friends did too. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has chosen one and hated the other? Do those people even exist?

That’s what got me thinking about it this week. It’s crazy that we loved both of these bands. The songs they wrote that took aim at each other had some incredibly violent lyrics. “And you can think of me when you forget your seatbelt and again when your head goes through the windshield!” or “Best friends means I pulled the trigger. Best friends means you get what you deserve!” I mean come on! These are intense words. They’re actually threats! But when you’re in high school in the mid-2000’s, you don’t think of it that way. You just love the music and you relate to the lyrics.

I will say though “Seventy Times Seven” was the fuel for a lot of my own teen angst towards friendships. In fact, I think both of these bands taught me about friendships through their songs. I realized the importance of calling someone a best friend and what that meant. Of course, actions speak louder than words, but…words can be powerful. You don’t want to waste words on lower cases and capitals. You want them to mean something. So in high school, I started using the term “best friend” sparingly because in my mind “best friends” meant friends forever. I learned that from Brand New. It’s still something I hold with me to this day. I actually took those words for granted recently and I needed to remind myself to not do that again after it happened so again I looked towards “Seventy Times Seven”. This is why it’s still relevant 15 years later.

Sadly though, in recent years, a lot of people began to have mixed feelings about Brand New. In late 2017, Jesse Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct and a lot of fans were upset by the allegations. Mostly, I think people realized that Jesse Lacey wasn’t who they thought he was. Before that happened, Brand New released one final album, Science Fiction, before calling it quits last year. Taking Back Sunday however is still touring. They’re embarking on a 20 year anniversary tour this fall. John Nolan is still part of the band even though he took a brief break from the group in the mid-2000’s to form Straylight Run. On the tour they’re playing their first album Tell All Your Friends in full. It’s definitely going to bring up a lot of feelings for fans and maybe even for the band. Who knows maybe we’ll find out exactly what happened between Brand New and Taking Back Sunday? Maybe not though. I will say I think the feud might have been blown up out of proportion and there’s evidence of that as well (cue the video of Jesse and John playing with Say Anything). It was still enough that we never got a Brand New/Taking Back Sunday tour. Despite everything surrounding both bands, I’m glad they gave us the music that they did. It was the soundtrack to my youth. Even if I no longer feel like a failure by design or a wishful thinker with the worst intentions, their music is still relevant to me at times and I still love connecting with people over it.

 

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Well I Guess This is Growing Up

When I was in 5th grade, I liked mostly mainstream pop music. It was all the stuff you’d hear on local popular radio stations. I also liked a small amount of good music too thanks to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (Superman by Goldfinger anyone?!). Fortunately, on occasion, good music gets played on mainstream radio, which is what happened while I was in 5th grade. I totally fell for it. The song was “All the Small Things” and the band as you may already know was Blink-182.

Blink-182 was formed in the early to mid 90’s when guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge, bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus, and drummer Scott Raynor decided to play music together. The band was formed in Poway, California which is a city located in southern California just north of San Diego. The band was originally called Blink but changed their name to Blink-182 to avoid legal complications with an Irish band of the same name. Before releasing their first record Chesire Cat in 1995 under indie label Cargo Records, the band played at a variety of venues in the San Diego area. They garnered some local attention upon the release of their debut album as well as attention from other well known punk bands and their management. The guitarist of one of those bands, Fletcher Dragge of Pennywise, even convinced the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, Kevin Lyman, to sign Blink-182 for their 1996 festival. By 1996 major record labels began to notice the band, which resulted in a bidding war. Eventually Blink-182 signed with MCA.

Blink-182 released their sophomore album Dude Ranch on June 17, 1997. The album included the single “Dammit”, which earned them mainstream fame. They again spent another summer on Warped Tour and toured extensively afterwards, promoting their newest album. Tensions in the band began to fly in 1998 due to the long touring and issues involving heavy drinking with Scott Raynor causing his eventual departure. Raynor was replaced by drummer Travis Barker.

In 1999, Blink-182 released their third full length album, Enema of State. The album featured three singles, “All the Small Things”, “What’s My Age Again?”, and “Adam’s Song”, that garnered more mainstream radio and MTV airplay for the band. Enema of State gave the band multi-platinum success by January of 2000 and sold 4 times as fast as their previous album.

After gaining greater popularity and playing arenas throughout North America and Australia, the band got together to record a fourth album. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was released in 2001 continuing the bands fame with mainstream singles “The Rock Show”, “Stay Together for the Kids”, and “First Date”. Between the release of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and the band’s 2003 self-titled album, tensions again began building between bandmates fueled by DeLonge’s interest to pursue other music styles. The tensions lead to the hiatus of the band in 2005. During the hiatus, Hoppus and Barker continued to make music together in the band +44 and DeLonge began his new project Angels & Airwaves. It wasn’t until a traumatic plane crash involving Travis Barker and 5 others (4 were killed) that the band decided to regroup.

In 2009 the band announced their reunion on their website and joined Weezer and Fall Out Boy on tour that summer. The group recorded a sixth album, Neighborhoods, together that was released in 2011. Neighborhoods didn’t receive as much success as anticipated. In the following years, the band toured, released an EP, and again parted ways with Tom DeLonge, who yet again wasn’t focused on making music with Blink-182, in the midst of planning a seventh album.

Since then, Alkaline Trio frontman and guitarist, Matt Skiba joined the band in DeLonge’s place. The group released the band’s seventh album California a week ago. Blink-182 will begin a tour in support of their newest album on July 22nd.

Blink-182 was a punk rock band from the start. Through their success their music began to have a more pop-punk feel. Whether you call that selling out or developing their sound, the Blink-182 most people are familiar with plays pop-punk music. It’s upbeat, sometimes fast, and has that punk edge. Their roots are strictly punk though.

As I mentioned before I began paying attention to Blink-182 in 5th grade. By 9th grade, I was supposed to attend a Blink-182 concert with my best friend at the time but it fell through. I was bummed it didn’t happen for several reasons (TBS opened, seeing Blink would have been amazing, and I totally wanted to spend as much time as possible with this friend for…certain reasons *wink wink*). I might still be slightly bummed too. During high school, as my music interests developed I began to appreciate Blink-182 more, especially after I purchased their Greatest Hits album. I guess my knowledge of Blink-182 to a certain extent is their greatest hits, but I still know a few more beyond that. Throughout high school, college, and even after Blink-182’s music was a part of my life. They’ll always be a legendary band in my mind for that. “Dammit” will always be the number one coming of age/nostalgic song. “All the Small Things” will always be my first favorite Blink-182 song and “Going Away to College” will always be one of my favorite songs to play on guitar. As with many other bands, much of their music is a part of me and my life. It’s pretty incredible how music can do that.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write a post about Blink-182, besides being a legendary pop-punk/punk rock band, is to talk about the new album. I recently found out that Matt Skiba joined the band after listening to a few of the new tracks. As a former Alkaline Trio fan, I feel like this new version of Blink-182 combines the two bands musically. It’s epic! The new music has a classic Blink-182 sound but lacks DeLonge’s notable vocals. Instead there are elements of the new material that remind me of Alkaline Trio, especially with Skiba’s singing. Only time will tell how successful this record will be with the new Blink-182 lineup, but for anyone who grew up listening to both of these bands, it’s worth a listen. Here’s two lists. One contains all my old faves and the other contains songs off the brand new record you should listen to.

New Songs

  1. Sober
  2. California
  3. Bored to Death
  4. Kings of the Weekend
  5. San Diego

Old Songs

  1. Dammit
  2. Going Away to College
  3. All The Small Things
  4. What’s My Age Again?
  5. M+M’s
  6. Adam’s Song
  7. First Date
  8. Feeling This
  9. I Miss You
  10. The Rock Show