Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker Break Plus-44 Silence, Talk 'The Real Tom'
Mark Hoppus would like you to know that everything you've heard regarding Plus-44 is wrong.
From the countless impostors posting fake songs online and numerous fan sites posing as the Plus' official site to the common description of the band as "an electronic side project," misinformation abounds. And so finally, after more than a year of silence, Hoppus — along with Plus bandmate Travis Barker — decided it was time to clear the air.
"This is the first interview we've done about the band. We didn't want to talk about the record until it was nearly finished. We had an idea about what it was going to be, and it changed, but now we can finally talk about it," Hoppus said. "But because of our silence, all these people online started to make up their own sh--. They made their own songs and posted them saying they're our songs. The stuff that's out there now isn't really Plus-44."
"It's kind of flattering that some kids would go out there and post songs under our name," Barker added. "I mean, at least it means that people are excited to hear our stuff."
Speaking to MTV News from their studio in Hollywood — where they were putting the finishing touches on Plus' debut album, tentatively called Little Death — Hoppus and Barker were beyond excited to finally be putting all the gossip to bed, and to finally have some real Plus-44 songs out there. After all, most of the music has been more than a year in the making.
"We started Plus-44 more than a year ago, writing songs in Travis' basement and my living room, and in that time we've changed some things, we've tried stuff and pulled and pushed songs," Hoppus said. "One song, 'Weatherman,' was one of the first ones we started in Travis basement. One night, I had a dream — and I woke up in the middle of the night and I had this guitar part in my head. So I had to pick up a guitar and write it down. And that matched perfectly with this part that Travis had written on his keyboard. We built it in Travis's basement, and that was a year ago, and we just finished it."
And there have been plenty of changes: Original vocalist Carol Heller is gone, replaced by a pair of guitarists: Craig Fairbaugh and Shane Gallagher. Producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura was called in to tinker with a track. And finally — and most importantly — the band's sound underwent a rather drastic transformation. And to that end, it's no longer entirely correct to refer to Plus as merely an "electronic" act.
"At first, we had the idea that it would have a lot of electronic influences, because by necessity we were recording on a computer. But then we bought this studio, and after we moved the band into here, the whole vibe changed," Hoppus said. "There's all kinds of stuff going on. Guitars mixed with keyboards, and electronic drums mixed with live drums. It's based on guitars and rhythms, and both Shane and Craig are great guitar players."
But for all their candor, there's one topic that neither Hoppus nor Barker were particularly anxious to speak about: their former bandmate, Tom DeLonge.
While DeLonge's rather unique promotional methods for his new band, Angels & Airwaves — which included promising feature films and spouting off such head-scratching statements as "This is the best music made in decades. ... It is so much more powerful, emotional and melodic than Box Car and Blink put together" — rubbed many people the wrong way, they were just par for the course for his former musical compatriots.
"I have to say you're definitely seeing what the real Tom was like, and that's the only comment I'll make about him or his band," Barker said. "But everything happens for a reason. If the Blink breakup didn't happen, we wouldn't be here right now, and we wouldn't have been able to make the record we did. ... It's the best thing in the world."
— James Montgomery, with reporting by Yasmine Richard (MTV.com)