Andrew Wood, MFA, Yale School of Drama • Essentials Online starting soon. • Call for a Free Informational Session • (323) 836-2176

Blink-182, the abdominal core, and ecstatic release

Blink-182’s new album is out. And so is the first single from the album, “Up All Night”. I was watching the video and saw some striking movements and gestures that exemplify the kind of simultaneous power and receptivity that performers of all stripes need to cultivate. I have made some clips of the moments that stood out to me, so I can show you what I mean. Since the moments are fairly fast, I have repeated them five or six times so you can get a good look.

This first one features drummer Travis Barker and guitarist Mark Hoppus:

These two gestures are striking because they both clearly begin in the abdominal core, that most powerful complex of muscles in the human body, but in both cases, their upper torsoes and heads just go along for the ride, in a kind of whiplash effect. This is the way a pitcher in baseball powers a pitch: from the core. In the best acting, ALL impulses are born in the abdominal core and THEN travel outward to the extremities, whether it be the jaw and neck (for speaking or moving the head), the arms (for gesturing or touching or handling an object), or the legs (for traversing space). The muscles in the core are deeply engaged, and the extremities are engaged only as necessary, and not more. This is not easy, as it involves the kind of coordination that patting your head and rubbing your stomach does. This is particularly clear in the case of Hoppus, the guitarist, as you can see his head bounce at the end of the movement: again, the head is just a long for the ride. There’s something very satisfying or cathartic watching these gestures of release, and that is what we want from actors as well.

Here’s another clip of Hoppus:

What I like here, first of all, is the freedom in the hips on display as Hoppus rocks back on forth. We saw in the previous clip that he can summon considerable power from his abdominal core (oh boy, if these guys ever read this they would have a field day with it ! 😉 ), but he is also capable of allowing the hips to move freely, he does not get stuck in the place of engagement of the abdominal muscles, he is totally capable of letting go of them as well. I also love the way his arms move with such liquid dexterity. Someone less physically assured might feel the need to constrict the arms because of the rocking on the hips, but Hoppus’ arms move effortlessly up and down the guitar, so that the guitar itself seems to hover in the air.

Finally, there’s this one of Travis Barker, who is called the world’s greatest drummer by some:

I love the way Barker seems to be ecstatically absorbed in listening to the music even as he plays. This is true receiving. His arms are obviouly busy, but his spine remains long and expansive. You get the distinct impression that he is allowing the music to play him.

These are clearly guys who have put in their 10,000 hours, and are consummate musicians, regardless of how you may feel about the pop-punk genre or this new album. They have been and continue to be a source of inspiration and energy to me over the years, and I am deeply grateful.