By Lisa Russell
Updated August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

As a teenager outside San Diego, Tom DeLonge remembers his father bursting into his bedroom “and freaking out on me,” he says. “I had purple dye in my hair. And no shirt on. And I was playing my guitar really loud.” Meanwhile, in the small town of Ridgecrest, not far from Death Valley, Mark Hoppus was skateboarding, playing in punk-rock bands and failing classes in high school. And in Fontana, just east of L.A., Travis Barker and his drum-playing buddies “would go in cars and peel out on the county sheriff’s front lawn. We would get in fights. Drummers,” he explains, “just like to have fun.”

By their own admission, Barker, 25, guitarist DeLonge, also 25, and bassist Hoppus, 29, are still making mischief—as the pop-punk prankster group Blink-182. In past live performances, as well as in their 1999 video “All the Small Things,” all three have appeared in the altogether. “They thought it was funny,” says DeLonge and Hoppus’s childhood pal Dylan Anderson, 26, of that video, “this whole idea of walking out of a dressing room naked and saying, ‘I can’t find my towel.’ ”

Though they no longer do the Full Monty, “there’s a side of Blink-182 where we get up onstage and just want to offend people,” says Hoppus, alluding to the band’s penchant for profanity and potty-mouth humor. “And then there’s the creative side, where we try to write great songs with some pretty serious themes”—suicide, loneliness, rejection, even attention-deficit disorder.

Their teenage fans have taken notice. Enema of the State, the band’s 1999 album, sold 6 million copies; its fifth, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, took off in June at No. 1, before the Blinkers embarked on a 42-date, sold-out summer tour. “They act like doofuses onstage,” says Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot, “but they write good, melodic, catchy songs that belong on the radio.”

Despite their popularity, “we don’t consider ourselves rock stars,” says DeLonge. Adds Hoppus: “We’re just a bunch of normal dudes. We hang out with the same people we always hung out with.”

They first hooked up in 1992. Hoppus, son of a Navy missile designer and his travel coordinator wife (who divorced when Mark was 8), was then a junior majoring in English at Cal State San Marcos. Mutual friends introduced him to DeLonge, a high school sophomore in Poway, Calif., and the son of an oil company executive and his wife, a mortgage broker. Though Barker, whose father is an industrial machinist and whose mother died the day before he started high school, wouldn’t join Blink until 1998 (when he replaced original drummer Scott Raynor), DeLonge and Hoppus immediately began collaborating on songs that DeLonge says were “all about being heartbroken because a girl doesn’t like you.”

Unrequited love is now a distant memory. “All of us found ourselves in relationships that kept us grounded,” says DeLonge, who married interior designer Jennifer Jenkins, 26, in May. Hoppus beat him to the altar last December with former MTV production associate Skye Everly, 28, and both Blinkers will be groomsmen at Barker’s Sept. 23 wedding to psychology student Melissa Kennedy, 24. Living in new homes within minutes of each other outside San Diego, “we’re very much suburbanites,” says DeLonge. “Going on tour is very much a culture shock.”

Not to mention the shopping sprees. “The stupidest thing I ever bought,” says Barker, “is a leather couch. But I love it to death. It’s from Italy. When I started out, all I wanted was a TV with a remote. Maybe a cordless phone. And now,” he laments, “I’ve got this nice furniture that costs too much.”

Lisa Russell

Bruce Stockier in New York City