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Cover Story

Hangin' Out With Rock's Rude Boys

Blink-182--a band that can make Jay Leno's jaw drop--likes its humor on the crude side. But it has legions of fans. And that's nothing to laugh at.


Noon: Things get worse. The car ferrying Hoppus is stopped by a highway patrolman for speeding and tailgating, Stein learns via cell phone. Plus: Hoppus has laryngitis. So instead of singing "Adam's Song"--whose teen suicide lyrics surprised some Blink observers with their weightiness--the band will go with "Aliens Exist," a harder-rocking, slightly less serious song. "It's about aliens that come down to Earth and fly up your butt," DeLonge confides. "And it's true."

12:15: Barker arrives. Much rejoicing. He piles a commissary tray high with pizza slices, a thick brownie and three bananas. The gentle-voiced Barker is the quietest of the trio, the spiky-haired Harpo teamed with two Grouchos. DeLonge huddles at a table with two collaborators on a film project he and Hoppus hope to see on the big screen. John Sclimenti, the writer on the project, later describes it as "Wag the Dog" meets "Spinal Tap." Blink has film experience, Sclimenti notes: "They played guys watching a girl masturbate on the Internet in 'American Pie.' " How could we forget?

1:20: Hoppus arrives. More rejoicing. Macleod, the tour manager, looks visibly relieved. Hoppus is accompanied by his fiancee and a gaggle of family members, many of whom will spend much of the slow-moving afternoon perusing flooring samples for a remodeling of Hoppus' home. The bassist,meanwhile, spends much of theday showing off his new watch tofriends and strangers. "Hey, put in the story that I was really hammered," he says. "Or that it was obvious that I was up all night doing massive drugs and hanging out with models. . . . I want it to be really interesting." His fiancee, Skye Everly, rolls her eyes.

1:40: More than an hour late, the band finally does its sound check. An engineer for the show holds a meter to monitor the sound in the relatively small studio. The needle wiggles between levels that correspond to "a riveter" and "pain threshold" in the staffer's sound manual, making Blink-182 one of the loudest acts in the show's history. During most of the song, Hoppus bounces with a silly grin on his face. "We'll hand out earplugs for the grandmothers," the sound guy says--and he, for one, isn't joking.

2:30: A round of dirty jokes is cut short as Leno stops by to say hello and, after Hoppus' bizarre observation, everyone is treated to the sight of the comedian's famous jaw dropping.

3:30: Time to kill. Back in the commissary, Hoppus is asked what he wants to be when he grows up and he answers quickly. "When I was in the second grade I wanted to be a priest or a tap dancer. Really, I don't know where it came from. . . . Now I kind of have both. I mean, we got a lot of little boys at the shows and I can bust a mean move." Another eye roll from Everly. Hoppus begins taking pictures with The Times photographer's gear.

4:00: DeLonge and Hoppus, getting bored, are in the parking lot between the studio and the commissary. They ask for a hacky sack. Barker gets a couple of bananas.

4:10: Barker changes his shoes and is asked about the band's looming one-day trip to Miami, where they will be photographed for the cover of Rolling Stone--with pop singer Christina Aguilera as their co-model. "Yeah, weird," Barker says solemnly. "Very odd." Hoppus is pragmatic on the topic. "Rolling Stone calls and says they want you for the cover, you go."

4:25: The day's bizarre zenith: Richard Simmons suddenly appears. The night's show falls on Leno's 50th birthday and the quirky aerobics icon (dressed in just a towel) will present the host with a cake--but first he wants a photograph with Blink-182. Gales of laughter fill the band's two dressing rooms as the visitor scurries around seeking the band for a picture. DeLonge, for the first time, is speechless. Hoppus calls Simmons "Dickie" and asks him for weight-loss help. The exercise guru warns the rock singer that he's old enough to be his father.

5:10 Everyone gets ready to head downstairs for the taping. Hoppus takes a moment to issue a public challenge to physicist Stephen Hawking. "He's the only guy I know I can beat up."

5:50 The men of Blink finally perform for the show. Crowd goes wild, song goes off without a hitch. Afterward, they amble across stage to the fabled couch, sit down, look into the camera and, for the first time all day, really don't have a lot to say. None of them cuss or even take off their clothes. Leno thanks them with an expression not unlike that of a relieved parent.


Blink-182, with Bad Religion and Fenix TX, Friday at the Great Western Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, 7:30 p.m. Sold out. The three groups return June 22 to the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach. 7:30 p.m. $25. (562) 436-3636. They also play June 25 at Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza. 3:15 p.m. $27.50. (818) 622-4440.

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