DeLonge embarks on latest ‘saga’ (with video)
Tom DeLonge has come a long way from his days skateboarding and playing guitar as a teenager in Poway, Calif. DeLonge has conquered the charts as a pop-punk icon with blink-182, experimented with post-punk side project Box Car Racer and now looks for nothing short of world domination with Angels and Airwaves.
"Angels and Airwaves is kind of a way to aggregate all my favorite things about music," DeLonge said. "There are elements of The Cure, The Descendents, The Who, Fugazi, U2, Peter Gabriel…. It is like a best of alternative rock. I’m grabbing from all these different places, and in the future there is more stuff we’d do that is more ‘Radiohead-esque’ or maybe drum ‘n’ bass or maybe even more folksy."
In 2006, Angels and Airwaves released its debut, We Don’t Need to Whisper, to wide acclaim. DeLonge went from Ben Weasel to Bono in crafting Angels and Airwaves’ distinct arena rock sound, which was a far cry from blink-182’s three-chord pop-punk. A debilitating back injury from DeLonge’s days in Box Car Racer saw the guitarist hooked on prescription painkillers, resulted in DeLonge making boastful statements about his new band being "the best rock record in the past 25-years."
"I was on drugs. I was very passionate about what I was doing with the music," DeLonge said. "But at the same time I was joking."
Music Web sites and message boards took his comments out of context and christened DeLonge "The Tom Cruise of punk rock." DeLonge still has his trademark humor, as he seemed to take the jab as a compliment.
"He is a successful dude and he is kind of running his own religion, and maybe that is what I need to do next," he said.
DeLonge has his hands full with Angels and Airwaves and Macbeth Footwear, which has sponsored bands such as Alkaline Trio, AFI and Taking Back Sunday. The line, designed and inspired by artists and musicians, is one of the only shoe companies that makes vegan-friendly shoes.
"With Macbeth, we just kind of nurtured the idea. We do our own thing, and when you run a company you start with an idea, stick with it and see where it goes," DeLonge said. "We have a lot of rad bands we are doing shoes for in the future – Mike Dirnt of Green Day, Russell from Bloc Party, Tegan and Sara, My Chemical Romance and the guys from Muse."
An operating system DeLonge created, Modlife, is also continuing to grow.
"It allows bands to sell their own records, pay-per view events, subscriptions, meanwhile challenging bands to be more artistic and communicate with their fans through chat rooms, live video chats, (and) messaging," DeLonge said. "It gives all the fans their own user site, launching next week. I’m really excited about that, and I think it really has potential to be one of the biggest things on the Internet."
Commerce-inspired side projects aside, DeLonge is a busy man at home, as a proud husband and father of two. Maturity in music and demeanor can be seen in DeLonge by any longtime fan.
"As a person, (having kids) makes you less selfish. As a songwriter, I’m more aware of the world around me, so it affects lyrical tone," DeLonge said.
Songwriting has gotten better with age and experience for DeLonge, as 2007’s I-Empire had some of his best work to date. "Everything’s Magic" and "Secret Crowds" were successful singles and crowd favorites. While fans have their favorite songs, DeLonge finds it hard to pick one from his long catalogue of work.
"When I wrote ‘The Adventure’ with Angels and Airwaves, it was a song where I learned you could emotionally pull somebody into music. (blink-182 song) ‘All The Small Things’ wasn’t one of the favorites I wrote, but it did so much for me and helped change my life. I really like ‘The Adventure’ right now as a flagship song for who I am at this point," he said.
The tour with Weezer hit Houston on Thursday and rarely played songs "Heaven" and "Start the Machine" made the set list. After the tour concludes, the band has plans for live DVD, a possible acoustic album, more video documentaries, an I-Empire movie and a new studio record.
"In January we are going back to studio. We are excited, and I’m freaking about it," DeLonge said. "I can’t wait to get all my creative ideas, passions and juices flowing. I think it is going to be an evolution; we will always have that big, epic sound with the crescendos and the long intros. The diversity will always be there. But I think tonality and ambition of the project will be focused on a different saga."