“This is probably going to be the best record I have ever done in my life” – Tom Delonge
Over the course of the last year or so, Angels & Airwaves have released three singles, ‘Rebel Girl’, ‘Kiss & Tell’ and most recently the beautiful ‘All That’s Left Is Love’. All very different yet all held together by a strong emotional core, they serve as the first taste of the band’s upcoming new album.
We spoke to frontman and visionary Tom Delonge about the three tracks and what we can expect as we move forwards towards the release of this new full-length…
How has it felt putting these tracks out at different times and giving them the space to breathe?
“You never really know what people are going to think when you put out something like that. You never know what the reaction is going to be when you put out any sort of art really.
“But music is in our culture. It’s in our DNA. It’s there to make you feel triumphant. It’s there to pull people together or to be a vehicle to let out emotion. I’ve experienced it in a whole host of different ways. Angels & Airwaves have always been a band who have wanted to focus on the spiritual awareness aspect of who we are and what we want to be and where we want to go.
Does it feel different to when you have released music before?
“When I started this band, a lot of people didn’t really understand it. They didn’t understand what I was going for and they didn’t understand the spiritual angle of it. Now all those people are ten years older and it’s perfect. It’s completely resonating with all of the blink fans and all the people who just knew who I was and sang along to songs on the radio and they are now saying, ‘Wow I kind of understand what this Angels & Airwaves’ thing is all about’. For me, I’m just so excited for the first time in so many years.”
So what was the process of putting these three songs together like? Did they differ or were they pretty similar?
“It’s funny, when I started out writing with blink-182 it would be me and Mark [Hoppus] sitting with our acoustic guitars and we would write it there and then in his bedroom. Then we would go to a rehearsal space and teach it to our drummer, whether that be Scott [Raynor] back in the day or Travis [Barker] afterwards. Then once that was down we would go and factory line it in a studio and get it all recorded really quickly because it’s expensive in a studio.
“Then when computers came in, writing became a very different methodology. It wasn’t writing a song on an acoustic guitar, learning it and recording it anymore. You could do it all in your computer because you have so much more versatility. Then that process merged with demoing and the act of demoing and recording all became part of the same thing. There wasn’t a demoing process anymore. We’re going to start assembling a song then one day we’re going to be done assembling it.
“So my process now is that I strategize, for quite a long time, about what type of song I want to do and I break that into the ten major building blocks of making a record. I don’t think, ‘Here’s a great riff that I wrote on guitar’ or, ‘Here’s a catchy chorus I whistled over this chord progression’. I hone it down into a tone and into a type of box that I want to build and make it sound like it’s a combination of a few things. It’s almost like I’m making a meat dish, a chicken dish and a fish dish. That’s why these three songs sound so different. That’s the point.”
With that in mind, how does it reflect on what else you are working on?
“It’s going to be a very diverse record when it comes out. It’s going to be this Greatest Hits of all of the bands that I love. From Depeche Mode to The Descendants to Fugazi. It goes on and on. I love so much music that I grab as many elements as any other artist does but then mix them into my own little versions.
“There’s the fastest punk song I’ve ever written on here. There’s a song that could have been on a Depeche Mode album. There’s stuff that’s atmospheric and beautiful. There’s a song that’s like Fleetwood Mac. Everything is falling into place and this is probably going to be the best record I have ever done in my life.”
The thing that holds everything you do with Angels & Airwaves together is the emotion and the feeling you inject into your music. It feels like the thing that holds these songs together on the surface is love, but is that actually correct? What emotions have you actually been trying to portray?
“I grew up in a time when punk-rock music was a vehicle for breaking things and rebellion. Blink started its path with writing really funny and happy songs because we were trying to make ourselves laugh because before we had all come from such broken homes and bad environments. From being kicked out of High School to divorces to domestic abuse, playing really fast and happy and pissed off shit was what we felt. That then merged into that whole emo movement. Everyone may poke fun at that these days but everybody has a soft spot for it. What that movement did though was introduce more emotion to the mix, not just in the architecture of the instrumentation but also within what was actually being said.
“Angels & Airwaves is that but on crack really. But you need to understand that it’s not just love. Love is a word that everybody thinks they know what it means, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For me, I feel like if you were to take a big wide-eyed look at the whole universe, you have two different forces that are competing. They are connection and entropy. You have everything either coming together as one or things falling apart over time. The light and the dark. My motto that I’ve been working on over the past few years is, ‘Love is just another word for everything coming together’. When you do something that’s emotional and when you do something centred on the word love as you and I know it that means connection. We’re all little pieces of one big ball of light. That’s why I think it feels good to people. I just think the word makes people think it’s more of a hippy thing. I’m talking about how we are as spiritual beings inhabiting a physical body. We’re all little pieces of the same thing.
“The big thing for us in life is to be able to feel things. To discover what’s right and what’s wrong. To make choices and to learn from how you affect other people. That’s really what I’m trying to do with Angels & Airwaves. It’s a much bigger artistic experiment than just, ‘I really love this person’. I’m talking more about the Ying and Yang symbol that you see everywhere. It’s the battle between being connected and falling apart. It’s something that’s in all of us.”
There is so much out there that we are yet to learn. When music can show you that and teach you that, both as a listener and an artist, it’s incredibly magical….
“I like being inspired by things that can make me think differently. Nothing is better than when you know that you don’t know everything about something and you’re able to portray it in a different way. That’s how you can become more enlightened.
“For example, My partner at the To The Stars Academy, Dr Hal Puthoof, created the Remote Viewing Protocol for the CIA. What they learned from it was amazing. They learned that anybody could meditate and pull out information from their past, present and future. Some people are good at it and some people need more practice. But what does that mean? That means that anybody at some point in their life can shut their minds down and pull information and messages from there. Some people call in praying, some call it meditation, the CIA call it Remote Viewing. It’s all the same thing. That’s just the way that the universe works.
“All these things are what inspire me to do what I do when it comes to music.”
Finally, what do you feel it is that really ties these three songs together? How does that relate to what we can expect later on?
“The thing that is really consistent with this piece of art I’m working on, and without giving the title away, is that it’s all about the interaction of human beings with each other. It’s about the ups and the downs and the learning process of that. People always write about girls or about being angry, but for me it’s a little deeper because I went through such an insane rebirth these last couple of years. I’m now two and a half years on from going through a major divorce, which was the most painful and devastating thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve also been through a number of years putting my company together. I’ve never had to deal with congress and legislation in this way before. I have a defence contract now and I have it on exotic material that has unknown origins. There’s a lot of moving parts in my life that made me really come back to music.
“From there I have realised that I’m more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been in my life and more people understand what I’m going after than they ever have in my life. That gives me the validation in my heart to keep on going down this same path and keep on doing what I’ve always meant to be doing. I’m meant to inspire people. I’m meant to help educate and galvanise people.”
When you actually feel that push where you think, ‘This really is my purpose’, then you need to grab on to that with both hands…
“I think that people need to have that purpose and understand what their own purpose is. When you don’t have purpose you really just wonder, ‘What am I doing here?’ I always tell people to open their minds and hearts up and find their own ways where they can help inspire other people. It’s cool to be a good human being and it’s cool to want to have a better life for yourself and your family and your friends. That’s what Angels & Airwaves has always been about.”