THEY say never meet your heroes, but try telling that to Ben Barlow, vocalist with Wrexham punk band Neck Deep.

This week it was announced Ben and his fellow bandmates would be joining US rock superstars Blink-182 on a mammoth Stateside arena tour throughout the summer, as the Californian's support act - a development that has left the 24-year-old frontman almost lost for words.

"Being on this tour with Blink is nothing less than a dream come true," he says. "They were the first band I fell in love with. I've seen them live multiple times and been wrapped up in the madness of the crowd. To now be on the other side of that, playing to that crowd... it's just surreal. This is an opportunity we've always dreamed of and we're gonna take it by the horns and make the most of every moment."

Forming in Wrexham in 2012, it actually only took two years for Neck Deep to first share a stage with their heroes, when they opened for Blink-182 in 2014 at Brixton Academy, as well as Leeds Festival a few weeks later.

"It's crazy really," continues Ben. "They're probably my favourite ever band and they defined music for me and helped start off the whole thing about wanting to be a musician. The fact we are touring with them is mindblowing and it was the definition off a no-brainer when we got the offer. The gig in Brixton was enough and I would've died a happy man after that but getting a full tour is amazing. I'm led to believe we were one of their first choices, which makes it even more flattering."

Neck Deep came together when Ben met lead guitarist Lloyd Roberts when Barlow's older brother, Seb, was recording the Wrexham hardcore band Spires that Lloyd played in. Part of a wave of pop-punk revival acts, they cited influences like Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory and Sum 41 and after enlisting friends from Wrexham's flourishing punk scene, completed their lineup with Matt West on guitar, Fil Thorpe-Evans on bass and Dani Washington as drummer. Following the release of their debut album Wishful Thinking in January 2014, the band became a full-time project, with the band members leaving their jobs or dropping out of university courses as they began touring extensively across the UK and US.

"Touring America is second nature to us now," laughs Ben. "I wish I wasn't so blasé about it because I still love going out there. I always have a moment when I stop and think 'we have done quite well' but the real mindblowing thing this time is it is with Blink-182. In the past we've played the Vans Warped Tour, which is like a travelling festival and is very intense - it packs up each day and it's always in a car park away from everything, so this time it will be nice to be in America in the summer and have the whole country at our disposal. We'll actually be able to explore and look around."

The hard work stateside has paid off for Ben and his fellow band members, with Neck Deep even landing in the top 10 with their third album, 2017's The Peace And The Panic, hitting number four on the Billboard 200 chart.

"I'd say we're just as popular out there as we are in the UK," says Ben. "We're really lucky because a lot of UK bands really struggle to break through in the US but it happened really early on for us and simultaneous to our growth in the UK. We can do most of our touring out there now and save the special stuff for the UK."

Talking of special gigs, this month sees the band return to their hometown for a gig as part of the FOCUS Wales festival, where they play Wrexham's William Aston Hall.

"We've heard a lot about FOCUS over the last couple of years and it's definitely establishing itself as an important festival," says Ben. "I think it's great for the town and the fact we're playing William Aston is great - it's a bit of a step up from Central Station!

"I'm buzzing because when we first heard about it we were like 'it holds 1,000 people' and all our friends and family will be there, so it's a bit special. Usually we're horrifically nervous when we play Wrexham but on the flip side I'll be seeing all my mates there and they'll be going for it and crowd surfing and singing along and that gets me pumped up in a way I don't normally get."

Ben has fond memories of the band's early days and credits Wrexham's music scene for much of the impetus Neck Deep received before their second EP, 2013's A History of Bad Decisions, caught the attention of several major labels.

"The fanbase has grown massively but there's still loads of people who were there at the start," he says. "I recently moved to Saltney but we still operate out of Wrexham and my brother Seb records and produces all of our music in his studio in Wrexham. It's still the hub for us and it will always be where we come from and where we started.

"Wrexham is a creative little town and sometimes I think people overlook it. Wrexham had a great music scene when we started out: my brother was in bands and a huge number of people I know are from going to gigs and rock nights at Central Station. It did wonders for this world of people who live in Wrexham. We need a little bit more of that."

Away from this summer's epic journey across the US, Neck Deep will be recording their fourth album, with Ben busy writing lyrics that reflect the band's journey through their 20s.

"We've pushed the album back a couple of months but as soon as the tour is done, we're going to go and record it at my brother's studio in Wrexham," he adds. "We're going to be busy but we didn't want to be shipped out to America to record this one, so we'll be staying local and getting it done here. I'm not an 18-year-old kid who's broken up with his girlfriend anymore - I'm an adult now and I've been with the same girl for quite a few years. I've bought a house and got a dog and my perspective has shifted a bit. It doesn't mean I'm going to write about doing the laundry but my concerns aren't all about heartbreak anymore and there are things I'm concerned about that I want to put into my writing."

Neck Deep play Wrexham William Aston Hall on Saturday, May 18. For more information go to