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+44 - Former Blink 182 boys reunite


Feature by Jack Foley

FORMER Blink-182 co-founders Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker have reunited under the aegis of a new band, +44, and released their much anticipated album, When Your Heart Stops Beating (Interscope Records), in November 2006.

The album is produced by Hoppus and Barker and executive produced by long-time blink-182 producer Jerry Finn.

+44 played their debut European show (only their second ever gig) at London’s Astoria to a packed-out crowd on September 29. The gig sold out in 90 minutes!

Recruited for their new journey as +44 – pronounced “Plus 44” – are Shane Gallagher (The Nervous Return) and Craig Fairbaugh (Transplants, The Forgotten, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards) who join singer-bassist Hoppus and drummer-keyboardist Barker in picking up where the popular, multi-platinum-selling band Blink-182 left off after splitting in late 2004.

“We were two-thirds of blink-182, so we’re not afraid of sounding like ourselves,” says Hoppus. “We’re not divorcing ourselves from the past, but we are pushing beyond the past. We’re progressing like musicians should.”

Barker agrees: “Mark and I have a natural chemistry after playing together for so long and it’s only gotten stronger. This band is a continuation of Blink-182 but it’s also different.

“For a long time, Blink-182 was an underdog. I like being the underdog again.”

Barker has known Gallagher since they were 16-years-old playing together in garage bands at Southern California backyard parties.

Fairbaugh was another organic addition, having played with Barker in the now-defunct Transplants.

“Musically, what we’re doing now we could never have done a few years ago,” Barker says. “I love this band. And it’s even better that we’re doing this with friends. That’s the best feeling in the world.”

Upon naming the band +44 after the international dialing code for the United Kingdom, their plan was simply to continue to create and explore.

Barker put down his drums for six months and began piano lessons, bringing keyboards into the +44 sound and opening up his songwriting talent.

For the first time, Hoppus took on all of the lead vocals and lyric-writing and even added guitar to his usual bass duties.

“I had no idea what I was capable of, especially as a singer. There’s a whole range in my voice, from barely whispering to really loud. I’m proud of how far I’ve come,” he comments.

+44 is not a side project or an experiment. Though Hoppus and Barker produce other artists and guest on numerous projects, +44 is No.1 in their careers.

Three years after the last original Blink-182 album, +44 is the culmination of their surging energy and creativity.

Hoppus continues to bring his expertise and passion as a producer of nascent bands.

Among those he’s recently worked with are The Matches, Something for Rockets and the acclaimed punk-pop quartet Motion City Soundtrack.

Since 2005 Hoppus has also actively produced his own podcast through the innovative website, spotlighting up-and-coming indie bands, playing new tracks, interviewing musicians and hearing their most outrageous tour stories.

Formerly the drummer for Blink-182, Box Car Racer and Transplants, Barker is one of the busiest musicians in rock ‘n’ roll.

He has also joined the industry’s premier spinner DJ AM for a residency at the Pure Club at Caesars Palace and select dates throughout the country.

Barker has enjoyed recent hip-hop success with chart-topping production collaborations with T.I., former UGK member Bun B, Pharrell, Gwen Stefani and Bubba Sparxxx. Barker is the founder of his own recording label, La Salle Records, and clothing line, Famous Stars and Straps.

Read our review of the album