A few clarifications on the spelling of Box Car Racer: Tom DeLonge’s and Travis Barker’s side project is three words, not two. And it absolutely does not spell the end of Blink-182.
“Blink will never break up,” DeLonge said Wednesday before a Box Car Racer show at West Hollywood’s legendary Whisky A Go-Go. “We love what we do way too much for anything ever to happen to Blink, and we are so blessed by the man upstairs to even have that in our lives. That’s our passion. This is just part two of that.”
Box Car Racer are a sequel that grew more out of boredom than desire. “There’s no need for it at all, actually,” DeLonge admitted. “It’s just really something to do in some spare time that was really only expected to be on the low list of the totem pole of priorities in my life, and just to have an experimental creative outlet. This is just for fun in the few days we have off from our real jobs.”
In their real jobs, singer/guitarist DeLonge and drummer Barker play catchy pop-punk with singer/bassist Mark Hoppus. They crank out hit albums, make slapstick videos and tell obscene jokes in arenas around the world.
In Box Car Racer, which began as DeLonge playing acoustic guitar and has evolved into a full-fledged rock foursome, they play a less poppy, more hardcore flavor of punk with Over My Dead Body guitarist Dave Kennedy and bassist Anthony Celestino. DeLonge writes serious songs they plan to perform at little clubs a few weeks a year.
Though there’s no rapping on Box Car Racer’s self-titled debut, due May 14, DeLonge said hip-hop grooves and rhythms are sprinkled throughout the thematically dark LP.
“We just got bigger and louder, and the songs just kind of took on a life of their own. Most of the songs are about the end of the world and dying, because I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
DeLonge also attributes the album’s somber tone to his back problems, which had the singer/guitarist in pain for most of the writing and recording process.
“When your back is killing you and you have to have surgery and all this stuff, it’s just kind of hard to keep a focus on the happier times in your life,” he said. “You end up writing all these songs about feeling sad and confused.”
Among those songs is “I Feel So,” Box Car Racer’s first single.
“It’s just a song about feelings,” DeLonge said. “It’s really just about being a kid. Not really being a kid, but just about being angry at the world and kind of wishing you were a different way, but you can’t be a different way so you feel angry and you feel mad and you feel sad, and that’s what’s in this song.”
The band’s name fits that grave atmosphere, although it wasn’t intended to. Box Car Racer was actually the name of a band Barker was in just after high school that DeLonge liked.
“It’s not like Boxcar Racer, like a little fast, speedy car,” Barker explained. “It was always meant to be three words, and it was just a name of something that means totally nothing, but Tom’s political, so he’ll tell you it was the bomb [used on] the Japanese people.”
It’s a little more profound than that.
“I was writing these songs about the end of the world and all this crazy stuff, and then, you know, Revelations in the Bible speaks about the end of the world, and one day I was wondering if World War II was what Revelations spoke about,” DeLonge explained. “So I started looking it up, and the second bomb that was dropped on Japan was from a plane called Boxcar (actually Bockscar, but commonly misspelled Boxcar), and it kind of really freaked me out. At that point I didn’t even want the name, but it was way too late. I blame Travis for that one.”