You’d be hard-pressed to find a band as ambitious as Angels & Airwaves. Whether it’s the dual-album ‘LOVE’ project or this year’s multimedia ‘Dream Walker’ creation, Angels & Airwaves are taking risks and to date, remain the most intriguing and atypical supergroup we’ve ever seen. We spoke with frontman Tom DeLonge about ‘The Dream Walker’ and its components, the possibility of an Australian tour and whether or not he’ll be sporting the Blink-182 Christmas jumper on December 25.
Hey Tom, it’s Peyton from Killyourstereo. Thank you so much for doing the interview today.
Yeah, for sure. I’m sorry it’s hard to connect, but hopefully everything goes well.
That’s all right. How are you going?
Everything’s good! It’s a little rainy in San Diego, which is weird for us. But it’s nice, going into the Christmas season. Winter is finally here.
It’s weird here in Australia because it’s raining even though it’s Summer. It’s not long now until ‘The Dream Walker’ drops. Have you been paying attention to the responses so far?
I’ve been following a bit of the responses. I definitely don’t obsess over it, like I might have used to, in the past. I have so many things to worry about with this release that I can’t really spend too much time following what people think. I do know [that] people are talking, and that’s really all that I wanted – for people to at least talk about it, and discuss it, you know.
Definitely, and like you said, there’s so much going on with this Angels & Airwaves release, with the comics and the film. Are they all different parts of the story of the Poet Anderson character?
Each piece is meant to live on its own. So you don’t need to see the movie to like the album, or understand the album. You don’t need to read the book to like the movie, kind of thing. All of these projects are there to help elevate and to help communicate the themes and the ideas behind ‘Poet Anderson’, the property. A lot of bands have done concept records, where they make movies that are there to elevate the album. That’s not what this is. We’re taking non-fiction ideas and themes of the human race and we’re portraying them and communicating them on different mediums in a fictional way. To do that, we had to wrangle together a lot of different artists to work on one project, rather than all of these artists working on their own projects that are all completely different. So it’s completely new and hopefully it will be a bit transformative for the music industry.
Was the point of using those multiple mediums to reach people in different ways?
Yes. The point is absolutely to reach different types of people. To make people get closer and more connected to the idea of what ‘Poet Anderson’ is about. And, hopefully, it will help grow the fan bases of all of these artists independently.
Do you feel like the character of Poet Anderson is an extension of yourself, or is he totally fictional?
I think Poet Anderson is kind of like some of the best parts of who I am. (Laughs.) Of who I want be, I think is what I’m trying to say. You have this character that comes from kind of a lonely place, a character that doesn’t quite fit in, but he’s super cool, you know. He’s probably fascinating to others. He’s got these dreams, there’s a lot going on in his head. But he’s capable of a lot, there’s a lot of potential once he learns how to apply the better parts of himself. For me, coming up with a character like that, I’m kind of putting in a wish list of my life’s journey into one character, you know? (Laughs.)
I can understand that. You’ve said that ‘The Wolfpack’ is about the music business…do the songs tie in more to the narrative of the film or to your own life?
The songs are either building or referencing the culture from which Poet Anderson comes from, or they’re referencing the themes and ideas themselves. We have a song about rock ‘n’ roll. We have a song called ‘Bullets In The Wind’ which references when rock ‘n’ roll was more important and kind of more at the forefront of the music industry. But then we have a song called ‘Paralyzed’ that is about sleep paralysis, you know which is a symptom of sleeping itself. So we’re dealing with both of those things.
Obviously dreams are the main concept of the record; does your interest in dreams link to your supernatural and paranormal interests, for example in UFOs?
Yeah! I mean, my interest is in why we’re here and what we’re doing, where we’re going. Something bigger than our nine-to-five existence. Dreaming is interesting to me because we spend half of our lives doing it, and we don’t seem to be that much closer to understanding it. The brain seems to be really complex and you know, who’s to say that when you dream you’re not experiencing that somewhere else, out in the vastness of space itself? Because we don’t know what’s out there, we can’t see everything that’s out there, and we think it might be infinite so that means there’s infinite possibilities of what it’s for.
The sound of this record is more mysterious and quite cinematic to go with that idea. Sonically, was that the direction that you wanted to take with the mixing and production?
Angels & Airwaves is always going to be atmospheric, aspirational and a bit futuristic in its approach. These are things that we will always be interested in. But I think on this record we grounded it a little bit, there’s a little bit more angst, and I think it might be a little bit more hopeful for other people who were into my other bands.
Do you feel like your work in Blink-182 and Box Car Racer actually influenced the way that the record sounds and its production?
Kind of. I think Box Car Racer and Blink-182 were definitely more angst-driven, more organic and raw in [their] approach to recording and song writing. And that’s a lot more prevalent on this record. Purposefully so, because all of our other records were so massively produced. And [this record is] different in its scope, so I thought this would be a really good place to bring it to be different.
On a broader sort of spectrum, how hard was it to keep the album locked up until release? It hasn’t leaked yet, I don’t think.
Yes, it has not leaked yet. I think part of that is because of our business model. When Angels & Airwaves first started we created a platform for artists to modify their music. And that platform is called Modlife. It’s since been adopted by Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Nine Inch Nails. One of the things it does is it allows the artist to sell direct to their fan base. So you don’t have to go out and just make CDs and ship them all over the world, and have your music entrusted to so many people before its release.
Handy! You’ve mentioned before your attitude towards music streaming. What do you envision as the solution to improve the way that music is accessed right now – obviously apart from people actually buying the CD?
Well, I think that streaming has a place. I think that it’s a better destination and archive of material. But for the monetisation of the art itself, upon its release, it’s kind of a killer of music. I think for access, as the internet improves, as the accessibility of high speed internet comes to more mobile phones, there’s no reason why bands can’t archive their own art and stream it to people in their own way. And you would go to a band’s website or app and have access to their art anytime you want. It’s not really possible now, only because of the cost of entry for artists. But I think that’s probably where it will end up.
Looking to the future, what are your touring plans with Angels & Airwaves?
We plan on touring it in a way where even the live experience is different from what we’ve done or what other bands have done. We want to bring together all of the different forms of media that we’re doing and have the songs come to life in a way that [makes it] worth the hard-earned money that people have. I just don’t want to tour just to tour. I want to tour because it’s worthy of representing all the artists that are on this project.
This is a pretty annoying question for you and I’m sorry to have to ask it, but is there any chance that Australians will see Angels & Airwaves or Blink-182 tour here anytime soon?
Yeah, absolutely, that’s not annoying at all. Some of our best shows have been in Australia. So that is the goal. Right now, we’ve got to get through the release, and as soon as our release is out, then I can start talking about how we’re going to get on the road.
That’s exciting. You have a few more Angels & Airwaves releases coming out – is the next one going to be a follow on from ‘The Dream Walker’ or is it a completely different concept?
We have three projects that are launching over the next 12 months that are all completely different from each other. All of these projects, including ‘Poet Anderson’, will go on forever. There will be no end, and we will continue to build those. So I look forward to catching people off guard starting next year again.
Well, we look forward to being caught off guard! To wrap up, firstly, do you have an album of the year?
I do not. Lately though, I do have an artist of the year, and his name is Frank Sinatra.
Really? Well, that works. Lastly, Blink-182 released Christmas sweaters. Do you plan to wear one on Christmas Day?
(Laughs.) I should! I don’t even have one.
You should get one!
I know, I should, I should.
We’ll look forward to seeing it on Christmas Day.
All right! Thank you very much, have a great day.
Thank you. Congratulations on the record!
‘The Dream Walker’ is out now via To The Stars Records. Angels & Airwaves are currently streaming it here.
Read our review here.