Angels & Airwaves’ Tom DeLonge Is Fascinated With the Paranormal
Backstage, before a recent sold-out Angels & Airwaves show in Anaheim, Calif., Tom DeLonge couldn’t say enough about how much the band meaned to him. Started in the wake of the break up of blink-182 (his other band) back in 2005, DeLonge and company (guitarist David Kennedy from Over My Dead Body, Hazen Street and Box Car Racer, bassist Matt Wachter from 30 Seconds to Mars and drummer Ilan Rubin from Lostprophets and Nine Inch Nails) have been fairly prolific. There have been four albums, a feature film, documentary, a series of promotional videos, and things are just starting to heat up for the alt rock super group, whose music features soaring, ethereal melodies and washes of textured sonic layers.
DeLonge also recently launched Strange Times, a website that focuses on extraterrestrial life, paranormal activity, cryptozoology, conspiracy theories and other underreported topics.
He, along with band member David Kennedy discussed the band, the website and the future of Angels & Airwaves with Noisecreep before the House of Blues show.
Tom, you seem extremely comfortable with this band.
Tom DeLonge: I am. I get to really be myself in totality with this band – and the guys are really aligned. I always tell people that the magic in bands, like in my other band, comes from guys being different. But this is an exception. The magic in this band comes from all of us shooting for the same thing. The four of us rarely veer off course from each other. We always celebrate each other’s ideas, and so we’re able to go for more ambitious things because we’re not arguing what those things are or should be. We dream something up together and go for it, support each other, which we love. I put a lot of time into this band, right now more than anything else I’m doing.
David Kennedy: Right. Usually, the torture in bands, the tension, is what makes them so great artistically. But at this point in my life it’s good to have guys on the same page. I’ve been playing for a long time and so the tension isn’t really needed.
DeLonge: Once you’re an adult you’ve got to start to hone in on what you want to do.
In your 20s you can mess around more but by your thirties you can’t be wasting time [laughs].
Tom, you in particular are used to playing arenas. Do you adjust your performance for shows in smaller venues, like the House of Blues tonight?
DeLonge: The cool thing about this band is that it’s built for large places, but we are not there yet. The idea is, we dream of making it to the arena level and so that’s the sort of show we do. We play it that way, we approach it that way, and that will help us get there.
We are dreaming very big for this band
Angels & Airwaves affords you so much creative freedom – is the sort of band you dreamed of playing in when you were really young?
DeLonge: I never knew it could be this cool. I dreamed of playing little punk rock shows – maybe to pay for an apartment. But this is great. I think our approach is really different. I get to bring a lot of my interests to the band, then there’s the multimedia, the concepts and messages. All of these topics fit into this realm and our band becomes more of a channel, making films, albums and packaging together all sorts of cool things.
What are the immediate plans for the band?
DeLonge: The next six months, we want to break the world up region by region and just go for it. Our first record, we didn’t have a team. The second record, all the record people got fired right when it was released. The third record, we gave away free. So for this last record, we made our own label, it’s sort of like a little movie studio, and we brought in people that believe in us and that we can rely on.
We’re creating a true plan. In many ways this feels like our first record – everything is thought through, and we are dreaming bigger. I’m an entrepreneur, I own a few companies, and my attitude in business has always been that failure is not an option – even though I’ve had a few, my thinking doesn’t change. Failure is not an option. We will constantly evolve the plan; find our niche – that’s how this band is now that we have our team. We can evolve and we have some really grand, ambitious ideas of where we can go. If you look on our web site now, those big buttons up top – each one will eventually be some big multimedia project. Right now, the Strange Times button is active.
Let’s talk about Strange Times. You’re known for having an interest in UFOs and other related topics. And we heard you recently on the syndicated radio show Coast to Coast.
DeLonge: I listen to it every night. I love it.
What is it about that show you like so much?
DeLonge: They take it all seriously. The hosts never dismiss anyone for having a strange idea. As an adult, that’s how I’ve always wanted to look at art – not to dismiss it- give it the benefit of the doubt and enjoy the fact someone made something for you. And I love the topics on Coast to Coast and that’s why we started Strange Times. We’ll have a very big announcement in a few months about Strange Times but for now, we’re trying to gather an audience that is interested in things happening around the world that are not being followed on ordinary news sites.
Why do you think more people don’t follow the things you cover on Strange Times?
DeLonge: I think that people have been conditioned for mainstream news or so long that they can easily dismiss an alternative type of headline, thinking it might be just a joke. People forget that a lot of fringe stories routinely had disinformation and were marketed to be unbelievable by our own government for so long for a variety of purposes. So over the decades people became conditioned to think these stories are not real even when some of them were.
Does it concern you that people don’t pay more attention to these things?
DeLonge: I used to loose sleep over it. When David and I did Box Car Racer I was really scared at the state of the world but I think everyone goes through those sorts of roller coasters.
Kennedy: I think it’s hard to ask questions you can’t really get the answers to, so I think people get dissatisfied. There are no real answers in many cases and so it just goes on and on and I think people find it easier put up a wall after a while and move on. People dismiss this stuff because there are no quick answers.
Is there one riddle you’d solve if you could?
DeLonge: There’s one riddle I’d love to solve – about ancient man on this planet and the capabilities we had. Like, the fact that we may have been to the moon or mars long ago. The mythological gods all speak about the same wars of gods so what really happened? Why are the pyramids there? What is on the backside of the moon? Did we go there a million years ago and are we just rediscovering it all now? I don’t think we’re working with little green aliens in a mountain, but I do think there’s a lot of stuff in our solar system that’ pretty trippy. There are some great stories out there.
Stay tuned to Noisecreep on Monday, Jan. 30, when we’ll have a “out-of-this-world” giveaway from Angels & Airwaves!
Watch Angels & Airwaves’ ‘Anxiety’ Video