blink-182 – Enema of the State – 15 Year Anniversary Retrospective
May 29, 2014 | By: Martin Said
blink-182’s iconic pop-punk record Enema of the State is turning 15 this weekend, so join Rock Industry as we take a look back at the 12 tracks that made the band, and the genre, what it is today, in this special retrospective!
Track 1 – Dumpweed:
Ferocious, fast, sweary and bratty. Everything a great pop-punk song should be, and Dumpweed’s got it all. The song blasts straight in with no time to spare, like a kid hyped on sugar, which is possibly the most apt description of any 90’s pop-punk. Hi-Hat splashes and a jittery guitar riff go hand in hand before being thrown into a bouncy verse with typically punk palm muting from DeLonge, followed by possibly the most mosh inducing chorus the band has ever put out to this day; you can almost see the circle pit spinning along to Barker’s furious punk beat. “She’s a dove, she’s a fucking nightmare” laments lead vocalist DeLonge in a perfect summary of frustrating young love, setting the tone for the next 11 tracks, and cementing blink-182’s title as the kings of girlfriend dissing rock anthems. An absolute stormer, blink-182 could not have written a better song to open their breakthrough album with, and it’s still a fan favourite to this day, being the set opener for every blink-182 show since their reunion in 2009.
Did you know?
Dumpweed is a song about sexual frustration in young adults and the song’s hook features the line “I need a girl that I can train”, which is a reference to training a girl to obey you much like a dog. Misogynistic indeed, and DeLonge’s then fiancée and now wife thought so too, a she was highly offended when she first heard the song, and rumor has it that their relationship even almost ended due to it. DeLonge spoke about the song in the band’s 2000 tour booklet: “Girls are so much smarter than guys and can see the future as well as never forget the past. So that leaves the dog as the only thing men are smarter than.”
Track 2 – Don’t Leave Me:
Being the lead on the second track of an album isn’t always an easy task to take under, but Mark Hoppus smashes it with flying colours on Don’t Leave Me. A short, chunky tune showcasing Hoppus’ more playful and simple lyrical approach when compared to DeLonge’s rather cryptic and uptight style, it wouldn’t be complete without Barker’s pounding bass drum riding under a simple bass guitar line throughout the verses, keeping the action afloat whilst Hoppus sings an “up and down” melody about the eventual demise of a relationship. Think of it as a spiritual successor to Dumpweed in that sense. Don’t Leave Me also shows blink’s art of turning rather profound and deep lyrics into tongue in cheek quips in a matter of seconds with the line “I said don’t let your future be destroyed by my past, she said don’t let my door hit your ass.”
Did you know?
Enema of the State marks the debut of Travis Barker as a blink-182 member. The now famous sticksman was near enough unknown when he joined the band in 1998, replacing original drummer Scott Raynor who was allegedly kicked out of the band mid-tour due to his excessive drinking. In February 1998, the band toured with SnoCore, a “winter version of the Warped Tour”, in support of their mildly successful second album Dude Ranch. Although the band were at the height of their fame thus far, sharing the stage with the likes of Primus, tensions were growing between the three members, and Raynor walked out mid-tour. Hoppus and DeLonge quickly borrowed drummer Travis Barker from the ska band The Aquabats who were also on the SnoCore bill, for the remainder of the tour. He learned blink-182’s 20 song set in 45 minutes. Raynor rejoined the group for an Australian tour later that year, but was soon giving an ultimatum due to his drinking habits: quit drinking or go to rehab. Raynor accepted rehab, but was fired by DeLonge and Hoppus soon after through a brief phone call. Raynor accepted his dismissal and held no resentment towards the remaining duo, claiming that they were “right” to fire him. The band have been vague about the dismissal ever since, with reports surfacing that Raynor in fact wasn’t fire, but actually left the band to attend college. blink-182’s 2000 single Man Overboard contains obvious metaphors regarding the loss of a friend over alcohol abuse and has been said to be written about Raynor, despite the band’s opposite claims. Barker rejoined the band to record EOTS and has been with them since.
Track 3 – Aliens Exist:
Almost an early glimpse of things to come in later years with Angels & Airwaves, Aliens Exist is a tale of Alien abductions and unknown entities, something that DeLonge is proficient in nowadays. Although he’s now known as an alien hunting space nut amongst his fans, there was a time when Tom DeLonge’s interest in the unknown was young and fresh, and with its childlike curiosity Enema’s third track is the perfect example of it. With it’s harmonized chorus melodies, some meticulous drumming from Barker and those classic pop-punk power chords, Aliens Exist may very well be the beginning of what most people regard as the “classic” blink-182 sound. Poppy but still with a choppy rock edge.
Did you know?
Aliens Exist is based on Tom DeLonge’s obsession with UFO’s, space and the great unknown. This passion dates back to him finding a book in his school library at a young age, that featured a single page about UFO’s which instantly sparked an interest in the young punk’s head. From then on he bought a computer specifically to use the new technology of the internet to research and find out more about conspiracy theories and Aliens. This wasn’t the last we heard from DeLonge’s bizarre interest either as the track Asthenia from blink’s 2003 self titled record is about a lone astronaut aboard a spaceship trapped in orbit in outer space. This subject was later adapted into a film called LOVE, produced by DeLonge and released under his band Angels & Airwaves. He also runs a website called Strange Times which is dedicated to news relating to conspiracies, alien discoveries and cryptozoology.
Track 4 – Going Away to College:
Back onto Hoppus territory now with this summery number about the distance between lovers when one of them leaves for college and “how much it sucks when people are in love in high school”. A much softer track lyrically, the song was written by Hoppus on Valentines Day 1999 whilst he was stuck at home sick watching the movie Can’t Hardly Wait, which was the inspiration to the theme of the song. DeLonge has claimed that this is favourite track on the whole album and rightly so. It’s a tender bittersweet ballad that shows blink-182’s softer side. Aww.
Did you know?
Enema of the State was the first blink-182 album to be produced by veteran punk rock producer Jerry Finn. Having worked with bands such as Rancid and Green Day on their breakthrough records, Finn producing for the blink boys was a big deal for them. He was pivotal in branching out blink-182’s sound to a more mainstream audience by giving them a cleaner and more layered sound than they’d previously had. He acted as an “invisible fourth member” of the group, mentoring the band and being the voice of reason when a disagreement came up during recording. He formed a strong bond with the group and went on to produce their next 2 albums, aswell as their 2000 live record, DeLonge’s Box Car Racer side project and the only album released by Hoppus’ and Barker’s post-blink group +44, released in 2006. He also produced for the likes of Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory and Sum 41, once again helping them hone their sound and achieve mainstream success, and also worked for big names such as Morrissey, The Vandals and Bad Religion. Unfortunately, Finn passed away due to a cerebral hemorrhage in August 2008 which, along with Barker’s near fatal plane crash the following month, was a primary cause for blink-182 to set their differences aside following their 2005 split and reunite in 2009. When the band recorded their first album since their reunion and Jerry’s death, they chose to self-produce it in honor of their lost friend and mentor.
Track 5 – What’s My Age Again?:
And here we are. It’s the big one. The track that made blink-182 what they are today. A 2 and a half minute song about getting dumped for acting your shoe size and not your age. Throw in lines about prank calls to cops, sodomy jokes and ADD and you’ve got an instant classic. Opening with a trademark DeLonge root note, Hoppus’ warm bass tone and Barker prematurely spindling on his cymbals like an overly-excited kid, it’s easy to see why this track is held in such high regard. Maybe not so much for the song itself but rather the concept. Lyrically it’s classic blink all over; the epitome of adulthood gone wrong. And this is perhaps the tightest we’d heard the band as a complete ensemble thus far in their career, with the three members single roles molding together so naturally and with so much subtle attention to detail.
Did you know?
What’s My Age Again was originally titled Peter Pan Complex, but label bosses made the band change the name because they felt that a mainstream audience wouldn’t understand the reference. The lines “No one should take themselves so seriously, with many years ahead to fall in line – why would you wish that on me?” were added to the song on the final day of recording, aswell as the backing vocals during the final chorus. The song was released as the first single from Enema in late 1999 and was coupled with the now famous music video which featured all three members of the band running through streets and parks supposedly completely naked in front of the general public. It has since been confirmed however that the trio were only completely naked for roughly 40% of the video, as they wore skin coloured speedo’s during the scenes outside (aside from the final scene showing the band from behind), but were infact fully nude when the scenes inside the TV studio were filmed.
Track 6 – Dysentery Gary:
Perhaps the most aggressive song on the record, it was written by DeLonge about a love interest that chooses someone else. Left with nothing, the narrator decides to make fun of the person who eventually got the girl, and is quite easily the best break up song the band have ever put out, just not in an emotional sense. “Life just sucks, I lost the one, I’m giving up, she found someone, there’s plenty more, girls are such a drag.” – how many of us have related to that at some point in our lives? The anger builds up the more DeLonge sings about it, finally giving up with the last line; “Fuck this place, I lost the war, I hate you all, your mom’s a whore, where’s my dog? ’cause girls are such a drag.” Again, how many of us have gone on rants like that when love hasn’t gone the way we’ve wanted it too? Surprisingly relatable, and a solid tune to boot. Twisting riffs with quick punky chuggs between DeLonge’s verse melodies and a short bridge from Hoppus towards the conclusion of the song, almost as if he’s acting as a friend of the narrator’s, backing up his claims and supporting his friend through lost love.
Did you know?
The nurse on Enema’s cover art is actually a porn star named Janine Lindemulder. The band had no idea she was a porn star until later informed by Jerry Finn. They simply chose her out of a stack of photos of potential cover girls they’d received from their label. The working title for the album at the time was “Turn Your Head and Cough”, and this was the reason for Lindemulder seductively pulling on a glove in the photo. “And that’s why I came up with the idea of the glove.” stated photographer David Goldman in 2012. “Obviously an enema is not really a glove type of thing. I thought it was a good visual.” There are actually three different versions of the cover – the first has a red cross on the nurse’s hat and a capital B in the band’s logo on the nurse jacket. The band preferred the lower-case b in the band name, which was how it was commonly spelt, and a second version was released with the red cross and a lower case b. The American Red Cross informed the band that the red cross on the artwork was in violation of the Geneva Convention, and it needed to be removed. Therefore, a third version of the cover was born and is the one available on copies of the album today.
Track 7 – Adam’s Song:
Track seven is arguably the band’s first “ballad”, featuring a soft piano melody and slow tempo. Written by Hoppus during a tour, he was inspired by feelings of loneliness after seeing DeLonge and Barker taking breaks from performing to visit their girlfriends, whilst Hoppus was single. “Tom and Travis always had girlfriends waiting back home, so they had something to look forward to at the end of the tour.” reflected Mark Hoppus. “But I didn’t, so it was always like, I was lonely on tour, but then I got home and it didn’t matter because there was nothing there for me anyway.” In stark contrast to the rest of Enema, and in fact the rest of material the band had put out so far, Adam’s Song was a dark brooding tune, and despite this it peaked at number 2 on the US Modern Rock Chart when it was released as a single in September 2000.
Did you know?
Despite originally being penned based on Hoppus’ personal loneliness and depression, the song has since gained recognition as a tribute to a teen who committed suicide. When Hoppus read an article about the suicide and that the young boy was a blink-182 fan, he named the untitled track Adam’s Song in his memory. The song’s vocals were recorded in one single take, which is unusual as vocal takes normally require various attempts to get right when tracking. The lyric “I took my time, I hurried up, the choice was mine, I didn’t think enough.” has been said to be a nod to a line from Nirvana’s Come As You Are; “Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don’t be late.” During the group’s comeback tour in 2009, friend of the band and frequent Travis Barker collaborator Adam Goldstein, also known as DJ AM, passed away, causing the band to remove Adam’s Song from their setlist. The song hasn’t been played by them since.
Track 8 – All the Small Things:
How do you top one breakthrough radio friendly single? Release another. All The Small Things is perhaps the bands poppiest hit to this day, complete with waves of 90’s synths, thick power chords and layered vocals. Penned by DeLonge as a love letter to his then girlfriend and now wife Jennifer, it was musically inspired by one of his favourite bands The Ramones, with its simple melody and “na-na-na’s”. It was a major success, hitting the top spot on the US Modern Rock Chart and number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.
Did you know?
Despite being a pop song in many ways in itself, blink-182 turned in a music video for All The Small Things that mocked many popular pop artists at the time. Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are all lampooned in the three minute clip. The video clip became the basis for an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch in 2001, in which a claymation blink-182 were pitted against boy band 98 Degrees in gundam-like mech robots. Whilst on the set of the video, Mark Hoppus met his now wife Skye. DeLonge would frequently embarrass Hoppus by asking random girls out for him, and Skye just happened to be one of them. They are married to this day and have a son together named Jack. The track was written deliberately poppy as the band knew the label would want them to turn in a song that would be radio friendly. “I remember thinking, ‘The label’s gonna want a song for the radio – so here’s one,'” recalled DeLonge. “It was obvious from the beginning it would fit that format.”
Track 9 – The Party Song:
Dare you to try to sing this song in one go without messing up. Dare you. An unusual, almost rap like verse opens up with Mark Hoppus discussing the pain of ending up at a party filled with people you absolutely can’t stand. We’ve all been there. And then you meet a girl, a girl that could save your night, but only makes it worse. Again, we’ve all been there. The “na-na-na’s” are back, albeit subdued under Hoppus’ chorus. A party song, but not in the traditional sense. A bizarre addition to the blink-182 catalogue, but still an essential part of Enema.
Did you know?
Due to their second album Dude Ranch almost reaching platinum status in sales, commercial expectations were high for Enema of the State. The album battled for the top spot against the Backstreet Boys Millennium record and managed to shift 109,000 copies in the US alone in its first week on shelves. At the time, the band was touring as a support act for cult Californian punk band Lagwagon in Europe; say, the equivalent of Metallica supporting Trivium now. Joey Cape, frontman of Lagwagon spoke about the bands success: “They were selling, like, 90,000 records a day. I was saying things like, ‘What are you doing here? Go home! Why do you want to be on tour with Lagwagon right now?” Enema went platinum two months after it’s released, and by the end of 1999 it had achieved triple platinum status. At the end of a show shortly after the release of the record, DeLonge was approached by The Offspring guitarist Noodles, who had just walked off stage after finishing a set with his band. He looked DeLonge in the eyes and stated “you’re next!” referring to the height of fame The Offspring had achieved at the time.
Track 10 – Mutt:
Cue drum fill. Cue single bass line. Cue riff. Cue DeLonge’s vocals. Cue harmonised bridge. Mutt is a subtle build up of a song. One by one, the elements lay on top of each other, and eventually crash down into a thick instrumental refrain. Catchy as hell, the lyrics are somewhat cryptic but still relevant to the blink mythos, referring to the differing wants and needs between two sides of a relationship. The track has made a name for itself over the years after it appeared in the 1999 cult classic teen sex comedy American Pie, during one of its most famous scenes.
Did you know?
Mutt is actually the only known song on Enema that was written whilst Scott Raynor was still in the band. DeLonge wrote the song for his surfer friend Benji Weatherly who wanted to use it during his appearance in a surf movie called The Show. An early version of the song was recorded with Scott and produced by Mark Trombino, the producer of the bands previous album, and this version was featured on The Show’s soundtrack. The band later cleaned up the track slightly and re-recorded it with Travis behind the kit for its appearances on Enema and in American Pie. Speaking of which, the bands cameo in AP is well known today, but it’s a little known fact that during the credits sequence Travis Barker is actually credited as Scott Raynor by accident.
Track 11 – Wendy Clear:
Another soft Hoppus track here, he sure has a knack for them and this one is no exception. Soft guitars and poppy synths are serenaded by Hoppus’ heart-warming picture painting lyrics of love and “having a crush on someone you’re not supposed to like.” We hope that’s not meant in an Ian Watkins kinda way. Too soon?
Did you know?
Wendy Clear got its unusual title from a boat owned by Mark Hoppus at the time. “Wendy” was the name given to his boat, and the word “clear” comes from the way boaters would end transmissions with the word clear to signal that their channel is clear to pass through.
Track 12 – Anthem:
So here it is. It’s been quite the journey and now we’re at the end. We started pre-school and now we’re graduating. We’ve dated this girl and that girl, and now we’re ready to party it all off, and there’s not a more suitable song in the world for that than Anthem. The title speaks for itself. The ultimate culmination of the theme that runs through Enema; girls, frustration, growing up and staying young. A single riff leads us in with DeLonge’s rather…erm, anthemic vocals parading the narrators boasts of everything he’s achieved throughout the past 11 tracks. “Good things come to those who wait ‘cause she laid me.” sings DeLonge proudly, as if he’s reached the holy grail of teenage life. And to be honest, he’s got it right. That is just one of a few things that young life is all about, and Enema of the State catches the moment perfectly, 12 times in fact. The perfect ending to a true story of young life, warts and all. Here’s to you Enema of the State.
Did you know?
Anthem was actually followed by a sequel. Anthem Part 2 was the opening track on the bands next full length record “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” released in 2001. In contrast to the original, Part 2 is far more serious lyrically, showing blink-182’s brief maturity achieved over the two year gap between the albums. Sequels have become common place for DeLonge in recent years as he released a follow up to the Angels & Airwaves Love album in 2011, simply titled Love: Part Two. Angels & Airwaves have also released a song named Letters to God Part 2, a spiritual successor to a song by DeLonge’s one off side project Box Car Racer from their only album released in 2002.
By Martin Said
Share with us in the comments below your memories of this record, and whether you think it still holds up today! Is it the classic everyone thinks it is, or is Take Off Your Pants and Jacket better? Let us know!