I’m at an odd place because the Hoods/DED and Cali/Present eras are tied, but for different reasons...
While Hoods/DED had some actual great music come out of the era (honestly dig some of this stuff more than Untitled, especially DED), we all know the behind-the-scenes were dysfunctional and we were often being left blue-balled every time. I got into blink around 2013 and often felt this way, with the combination of broken album promises and Tom’s live performances. Seriously thought Tom was getting his vocal shit together at the end of 2013, but was let down once 2014 started. Looking back, there were some solid moments during his last year with blink, but overall it was embarrassing. Just comparing the Blizzcon/Red Bull Soundspace gigs in 2013 to Amnesia Rockfest/Reading in 2014 was sad. Reading 2014 had some good banter and energy but I could not stand Tom’s drunk voice with his ear-screeching guitar tone murdering my ears throughout the entire set.
I have some mixed feelings on Cali/Present era. When it was first announced that Matt was potentially replacing Tom, I was excited. Finally, something exciting coming from blink! It was amazing seeing the drama unfold from Mark and Travis. It seemed like Mark finally grew a spine. I just joined the boards right before it happened, so reading the conspiracies beforehand and watching this unfold live was so fun. Ironic enough, I had no idea who Matt Skiba was at the time, but I quickly got into Alkaline Trio and other Matt-projects after. ALK3 became one of my favorite bands and probably the best thing to come out of this whole thing. Some of the early shows from Matt have been some of my favorite performances and versions of blink songs. Even Mark was on fire at the first three shows after barely making it by the last year, which says a lot about that situation.
Seeing all the drama on Tom’s end was entertaining, to say the least. Most of it was kind of sad and pathetic, from the metaphorical picture of him as a lion hugging it out with Mark and Travis (it was deleted..but sure as hell you all remember the shit he posted back then) to him misquoting Mark that they were gonna kick Travis out to him making accusations about Travis threatening to kill his ex-wife. Of course, a couple months later I guess best buds Tom and Travis are going to hang at some indoor waterparks. There is seriously so much fucking bullshit Tom put on his social media accounts to further mention. To sum it all up, I hated how egoistical and innocent he would act around this time. I actually liked some of the songs from his solo EP, but hated the intentions behind it. He didn’t make any point, he just slapped some demos and last minute songs together to get people on his side. He has mellowed out nowadays but he was such a child back then.
Back to blink: Things got even more exciting the first day they entered the studio. I’m still hoping the old pre-Feldy demos will surface one day. Throughout the California sessions, everything looked so exciting and fun, which was a stark contrast from the previous years. Seeing Matt belt the chorus to Cynical for the first time was one of my favorite Matt moments. I still remember the days when Bored to Death dropped and California leaked. At the time I said California was my favorite blink album, obviously that has changed once the honeymoon phase wore off, which unfortunately has even happened with this era. We can skip forward to present day as I think most of us have the same general opinions on the Matt-era. While I’m still excited for the album - out of morbid curiosity, the overall authenticity of the band has started to fade, music and performance-wise. I get the teleprompter now, but seeing some of the mistakes Matt does on guitar bothers me. I’m not counting WMAA, I can’t play that riff for shit either, he does a WAY better job than me. I’m talking about all these backing tracks and overdubs. I get Matt’s not the best guitarist, but I rather have blink music that all members took a part in. There is no problem with focusing on songwriting more over riffs. Hell, Mark could help out or the use something else to carry the melody, but don’t make Matt be someone he is not! I just hate the role Matt was put in. I understand he wants to respect the legacy, but don’t make him impersonate Tom. I wish they would use more of his dark songwriting capabilities, which would go great with Mark’s songwriting (that isn’t first thought, best thought). Nowadays, it doesn’t seem like he’s used at all, which is CRAZY for a co-frontman. Maybe the songwriting process didn’t work out somehow, but they’re all better than having 17 co-songwriters help them. Like the other thread says, I think I ended up not liking Mark as much as I used to when Tom was in the band, he just comes off as less genuine and a bit uptight. Rationally, they are both flawed human beings just like everyone else.
One positive thing for the current era, the EOTS tour was one of the best they had in years. Everyone (including Matt) looked to be having fun and it was lot more exciting to see compared to the previous ones.