Driving Around in Vans With the Boys: A Story of Friendship, Music, and High School

By Sean Tuohy

As I write this piece, I am sitting in my bedroom looking out the window at snow-covered rooftops and blue skies, but my mind is 10 years in the past.

I’m sitting in the back of a Dodge van as it drives through the suburbs of sunny South Florida. I'm with two of my best friends singing along to Blink-182's “M+M’s.” I've had a lot of wonderful moments in my life that I have shared with great people, but I tend to hold the moments I shared with Jorge and Michael during our teenage years closet to my heart because it was times of pure joy. It was three friends with little to do; just talking and listening to music. Blink-182 provided the music that bonded us together and formed the foundation of our friendship.

The pop punk band seemed to be the perfect soundtrack to high school life. The songs talked about the confessions of being a teenager, the pranks and joys of being with friends, and the fear of talking to the opposite sex. The same issues we suffered through  daily were written down and put to music. It made high school somewhat easier for us.

Nearly 10 years later, the three of us are spread out along the Eastern seaboard and have started to create our own lives and careers. However, all three of us still hold a special spot for Blink-182 and the memories we formed with their songs. I was able to catch up with the boys and ask them about their memories and feelings about the band and our time together in high school.

Sean: When and where did you start listening to Blink 182? 

Michael: It was the year 2000. I was in sixth grade. I first remember hearing "All the Small Things" on the radio. Shortly thereafter my older brother purchased the "Enema of the State" CD, and I remember instantly falling in love with the album. I didn't know anything about music, but this CD told me I was about to learn. Everything changed for me after listening to the album. My personality changed, I learned new words and phrases, mostly of an explicit nature, and I learned a lot about the human anatomy.  

Jorge: I started listening to them in elementary and middle school but got more into them in high school. 

Sean: What connected you to Blink-182? Lyrics, sound, look?   

MichaelDefinitely a combination of both lyrics and sound. The lyrics were hilarious even though most went over my head. The lyrics gave the music an edge and gave me something I could connect with, whether it be about feelings for a girl at school, hanging out with friends, parties, or experiences with aliens. In terms of sound, the band produced arguably the best pop punk music ever recorded. The songs never sounded a like, each offered something new, and hit its listener with a punch of energy and melody that is hard to match. It was the perfect music for the time.  

Jorge: The style. The honesty of their playing. What it meant to be a kid in high school, going through changes. Issues with parents, school, relationships with the opposite sex and friends. All kinds of honest perspectives on adolescence.  

Sean: We were in high school and listened to this band a lot. What Blink-182 song reminds you the most of high school? 

MichaelThe whole self-titled album reminds me most of high school, probably because it was released around that time. The song "Feeling This" is probably the song off that album that most reminds me of high school.  

Jorge: Hmmm. “M+M’s.” 

Sean: Do you think we connected to Blink-182 so much because they wrote about teenage life; going to shows, girls, and Star Wars? 

Michael Blink was sort of my anthem between the ages of 12 through 18. I think its lyrics related to my life and the music expressed how I was feeling, and sometimes how I continue to feel, but most of all, it was something my friends and I could listen to together and enjoy. It was the background music when I played hockey inside my house with friends, rode in the car with a friend, was at a friend's house, or at a party. I think there's a social element to Blink's music. It doesn't really feel right when listening to it alone, or at least, the music doesn't have its full effect when your not with others. I think it brings people closer. 

Jorge: Absolutely.

Sean: What is Blink-182's most well-written song? 

Michael: "Asthenia." Just behind that is "Going Away to College," "Man Overboard," "Carousel," "Adam's Song"...I feel like I should stop, but I don't want to.  

Jorge: Every Time I Look for You.” 

Sean: Is there some Blink-182 song lyrics that stick out in your mind and why?  

Michael: "Got a lot of heartache/he's a fucking weasel" from "Dysentery Gary" sticks with me. That intro really got my attention and I listened to that song perhaps more than any other off the "Enema of the State" album. "Well I guess this is growing up" from "Dammit" also comes to mind since it's one of the best songs from Blink and these lyrics capture its essence. They also repeat it a 100 times.  

Jorge: "I never did do anything that she asked/I never let what happened stay in the past/I never did quite understand what she meant/In spite of everything/In spite of everything." From my favorite song, "Every Time I Look for You." I just think that this is a combination of everything people do wrong in relationships and solid advice if you look at this as what not to do.  

Sean: "It's alright to tell me what you think about me" What is the first memory that comes to mind when you hear these lyrics? 

Michael: The music video is the first thing that comes to mind. It also brings me back to hanging out with my brother and friends, listening to "Dammit" with a CD player while riding the school bus, and trying to learn the intro to this song when I was a beginner at guitar.  

Jorge: Life and people being too afraid to tell people how they actually feel.The first memory is an image of an ex-girlfriend who, I feel, never told me everything she honestly felt.  

Sean: Will Blink 182 always remind your teenage years or does it mean something more to you? 

Michael: It means something more. I can recall a great experience with a lot of people who are important to me where we were listening to Blink. It's always a good time when their music is on.

Sean: Last question, if you were given the chance to go back in time and relive the afternoons driving around listening to Blink-182 would you do it?

Michael: Of course, and if we are all in town, I don't see what is stopping us from down it again. 

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