The Aquarian Interview With Tom


Interview With Tom DeLonge of blink-182: Older, But Still Not Grown Up

—by Patrick Slevin, August 20, 2009


Four years had passed since Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker shared a stage together, but at this year’s Grammy Awards, the members of blink-182 stood together and announced they’d be playing music together again. The trio that had acrimoniously disbanded following the abrupt resignation of DeLonge began communicating again in the wake of a plane accident involving Barker. A breakup became a reunion.

Of course, all three had moved on to different projects in the interim, most notably Angels & Airwaves, headed by DeLonge and +44, featuring Hoppus and Barker. But Hoppus has done production work for a myriad of bands, Barker has been working on hip-hop projects with DJ AM, and DeLonge has been something of an investor-creative director in Macbeth, a shoe company, and Modlife, a web venture for bands.

Now, with all their previous commitments on the side, the band few thought would tour again have embarked on a jaunt throughout the U.S. with Weezer and Taking Back Sunday, in what has quickly become one of the best-selling tours in the worst economy in decades. DeLonge explains.

How has the tour been? What’s the energy like?

Oh the tour’s insane. It’s somehow officially the biggest tour of the summer. Even tonight [Pittsburgh], it’s 20,000 some people, sold out. Last night, 23,000 people as well. It’s fucking crazy. No one understands why dick jokes got so popular. They’re sending down NASA scientists to really try and figure out why it’s so big. But the tour is amazing and the energy is awesome. We’re playing better than we ever have and we’re having a lot of fun. Mark drinks now too so now we’re both up there wasted. We don’t even remember the shit that we’re saying.

Is it a validating feeling? I know a lot of tours aren’t doing very well. Is it like, ‘Shit, I should have done this two years ago?’

I know, you would think. To give you an idea, the promoters bought the shows thinking we’d do 8,000 people a night. The average shows are almost 20,000 a night. No one thought, not the band, not the promoters, not the management, so it’s not like we got together going, ‘Fuck, we should have done this earlier.’ We got back together because Travis had that accident and we thought it would be good to play music again together. But one step at a time and we’re having a lot of fun. It’s great. I’m humbled by it, honestly, because we still are just a punk band at heart. We’re talking the band’s been together almost 20 years now I guess, well, we broke up, but we’ve been around for almost 20 years. It’s just nutty to see this right now. We’re very, very happy it’s working out so well. It’s obviously making the reunion very electric.

You mentioned the accident. Was there a moment of realization between the three of you, that leaving Blink on indefinite hiatus wasn’t the best thing?

No, it wasn’t like that. I honestly think a couple years ago none of us would have expected that we were going to play again. I still have Angels & Airwaves and we have a major release coming up in February, a movie and an album. Mark’s still producing all these different bands. Travis has a big hip-hop cameo big album thing that he’s been making for the past year—he still has DJ AM and himself. All of us still have all these things that are going on and we love them and they’re made for parts of our lives. It wasn’t like we were looking for this to happen. Now I think that this is going on all of us are trying to figure out—how does it fit in? It’s the biggest thing (laughs). It’s a bit of a juggle for myself because Angels & Airwaves is a full-time thing for me.

Are you done with the film and the record?

The film is being edited right now. Hopefully, we’ll be submitting it to Sundance in September, so the plan is that it debuts there in January and we’re hoping it will be out in IMAX theatres in February is what we’re looking for. But we don’t know, we’ve got a long ways to plan that out and get that all ready. We’ll see what happens.

As I recall, it was originally the I-Empire film and now it’s the Love film.

It’s really kind of evolved three different times. We started out, we wanted to make a documentary that kind of blurred the line between documentary and cinema but the documentary took on a life of its own, because there was kind of a big story. I was going through a lot of stuff at the time—the breakup of Blink and then drug use. That ended up being its own giant project. The documentary called Start The Machine went off on its own, then we started the actual film. We were thinking for I-Empire that’s what the goal was. Then the film was too good. It was way better than we all thought we could pull off, honestly. We just kept building it and building it. Now, somewhere along the middle of the I-Empire run, we said we can’t let it come out with this record because there’s so much more we want to do for this film and so we started negotiations to make everything be free, to be able to release the album and the movie for free. We’re at a perfect moment in our career with that band to do something really ambitious like that, so we’re really excited.

It was originally sort of a collection of vignettes connected to the I-Empire theme. Is it still vignettes?

It’s hard to describe. The story is about a guy that gets sent up into an international space station and he’s left there as a human time capsule. He finds digital archives on the ship of people’s lives. That’s how vignettes come to play. There’s dialogue. There’s a lot of CGI. It starts in the civil war. There’s a very kind of science fiction feel to it. We were always loving movies like 2010 and Solaris and these kind of movies where you sit back and soak into your seat and it takes you somewhere. It’s a much more cerebral approach that what people do when they normally make a movie. This is very much an art piece, and I wouldn’t necessarily think that you’re gonna see a bunch of mainstream kids from high school going to see the film. I think it would be young adults and people who are really interested in cinema. I don’t know how to describe it because this hasn’t really been done by a band in a very long time because it’s very hard to pull off. We’re using the same sound designers as Darren Aronofsky, we’re using Oliver Stone’s editors, it’s a big deal.

Is the budget spiraling out of control?

No, that’s the thing. I think what happened is we went around after three years of filming all this stuff and we met all these incredible guys and we showed them the footage and told them the story and they signed on and started the week after. It’s one of those rare things where everybody wants to work on it, not because of the budget but because of what it is and what it stands for and the philosophy of the entire thing. Coming out on Valentine’s Day, Love, it’s not a boyfriend girlfriend thing, this is more of a humanity kind of thing. That to me is really exciting. That’s what Angels & Airwaves is. Angels & Airwaves is a band built on this spirituality component that I think young Americans and young Western societies are slowly moving into and understanding. Angels & Airwaves is an interesting band and I think people will find that out moreso over the next year. We’ve been involved in a lot of really interesting things and I think people will soon start to find that out.

I’ve got a college-age writer who is bugging me about seeing the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective and all these indie bands, and the last thing I was expecting was him to ask me to see the blink-182 show, but he did. Has your fanbase kind of grown up with you in a weird way?

It’s a really weird question. Every day I’m trying to figure out, who the fuck are all these people here? I was 16-years-old when I started Blink, so I’m thinking our fans at the time, when we really got popular, I was like 22 or 23, a lot of the fans were just about 16-years-old, so I would imagine here that in 2009 that most of our fans should be late 20s. But they’re not (laughs). I don’t know man, it’s weird. It’s hard to analyze an audience when you’re looking at 20,000 people. It looks like people are between the 17 and 25 bracket, which means that you have a lot of people that were really young when the band popped but are now bringing their younger brother or something. Blink is a phenomenon I think where we sum up a way of life for suburbia that I don’t think any other band has really done the way we’ve done it. Who knows. It might be the new Grateful Dead but for a whole different audience. We might be able to cruise around and play for that young adult teenage bracket for the rest of our lives (laughs). I don’t know.

I don’t know if all the jaded 17 and 20-year-olds are going to be following your tour bus around, but they are following you on your Modlife thing. You started that about a year ago, right?

Yeah, Modlife has been up I guess about a year, we’ve been building it for about three or four years. It’s singlehandedly one of the things I’m most proud of in my life because it truly is revolutionary. We identified a bunch of ways that would help a band not only get bigger and help a band make money again but also make their art more interesting and more exciting for fans to buy into. And here we go. We probably have maybe 20 smaller bands in the pipeline, but we just launched the White Stripes, we just launched Korn. There’s a couple big A-level acts that I can’t talk about that are in the pipeline. Obviously Angels & Airwaves’ on there. Blink’s not on there, but we just got back together and we’re not forcing anything down anyone’s throat, you know. We created a platform that’s completely free to the artist and protects everything they’ve got but it gives them a way to make subscriptions, advertising money, pay-per-view money, to sell music, to sell movies, live broadcasting, interactive auto-generating chatrooms, automated meet-and-greets, VIP parties, advance ticketing sales, it’s crazy. At the same time, the 8 out of 10 kids keep coming back. The level of loyalty and happiness is insane. Because for the first time, an artist will get on a camera and talk to so-and-so from Idaho personally in front of 10,000 other kids. We’re really stoked. We’re talking to NASCAR and country artists and poets and authors and universities that are doing expeditions. I think Modlife is truthfully a chance to be something massive and revolutionary. The artist ends up making 75 percent of every dollar and they never get a bill and they own everything. It’s really pissing off the record labels that’s for sure.

For Blink, you almost got ‘Up All Night’ done, but you didn’t have the ability to control it if you played it live, it would be up on YouTube. Is that control issue part of it with Modlife?

When you try to account for how an artist makes money there’s like a thousand ways. And one of the ways an artist makes money is if your stuff does get played on YouTube, but to try to collect on that stuff is really difficult. Modlife keeps everything central. Everything is at your own home base, it’s your primary website. When we made the song for Blink, it was almost finished. It’s not so much that we were concerned that it was going to get played somewhere where we didn’t have control of it. We were just concerned that the first impressions weren’t going to be the beautiful hard work that we put into recording the song and the way we recorded it. At the end of the day there’s only three of us onstage, but in the studio you can really twist and turn the audio signals to do something special. It’s two different mediums, one is creating the art, the other is communicating it. I always feel you should communicate it after you’ve created it. That’s the only reason.

Do you feel that writing the song did something for you guys creatively before going out?

I think so. The best thing was getting on the road and experiencing what the band does for other people. The song is fucking sick, by the way. I was just yelling, ‘It’s so good! How did we fuck up? It’s so good!’ It’s not like we’re embarrassed by it because it’s probably one of the top three songs we’ve ever written. It’s great. But when we first got back together, we started bouncing ideas around. I think all of us were excited to come back and kind of show each other where we’ve been what we’ve learned and how we’ve evolved as individuals and it served that purpose for sure.

Do you have to be in a different headspace for Angels than Blink? Is this two different halves of yourself at this point?

Oh, that’s what I try to explain to people. Both bands are totally me. But they’re so Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I read books on politics, I read books on alternative history, I study. The things that I do to educate myself about the world around me is totally relevant and that’s what I do. But I also in the middle of that will tell stupid jokes and get crazy and act like an imbecile with my friends. It’s not like I have a pipe and an ascot. I still like dick jokes. The cool thing is I really get to be both parts of myself. It’s really funny in how different they are. Angels & Airwaves, before a show, it’s a whole different thing. People make jokes that it’s like church with people crying, and there’s lasers and it’s super epic. With Blink I’m blasting Van Halen and getting really drunk and seeing what happens.

Are there any worries that you’re on too many projects? Do you feel like more of a businessman than an artist sometimes?

No, because the cool thing is I have a lot of good people around me. Modlife is ran by one of the guys who started Guitar Hero and Rock Band. There are rad people running these companies. I’m like a visionary, kind of a macro occasional objective viewer that comes in and gives my two cents, but I really am a musician. That’s where I spend most of my time. I have a few meetings a week where I can try to contribute but I usually do more harm than good. Angels & Airwaves, it takes up most of my time, it takes up almost all my time. But now that Blink just came back into the picture, we have one thing on our plates right now, and that’s this tour. So we’ll see what happens after this tour and how everyone recuperates from it and see what the next plan is. There’s sputterings about Europe, obviously we’re talking about the next record, but it has to fit into everyone’s schedule, and everyone has their things and none of these things are going away and we’ve just got to figure it out.

And what’s new with Macbeth?

Well, Macbeth is doing awesome. We have shoes that we just did with Green Day, Mike Dirnt from Green Day. We’re really excited about that one. I have this new one that we’ve been working on for the past year called The Brighton that just came out. It’s taken years for people to understand that you can start a shoe company based on music and it’s probably as far out as an idea when they started a running shoe company called Nike (laughs). But we’ve really proven ourselves to stay true to the classics that we create. We base all of our shoes off shoes that musicians would love, at least our kind of musicians. From Adidas Sambas or the Converse Chuck Taylor. Stuff that punkers and alternative musicians have been wearing forever and it’s great. We do custom stuff for bands like Muse, and My Chemical Romance we did some big charity stuff with them. We have rad artists that we work with. Tegan & Sara, those girls out of Canada, their stuff is so fashionable. We’re small, boutique, but we grew in the worst economy ever, so I’m excited.

I’m sure you have probably an 18-month plan, whether you’re conscious of it or not, where do you see yourself being in five years or 10 years?

My biggest fear I guess is probably what I sense is having two gigantic rock bands (laughs). I don’t know anybody else who has done that and it scares me because what I’m trying to do is simplify. I’m 33 now and I have two kids and you look around you and life isn’t all about the go-go-go, which in your 20s is really easy to do. I’m not quite sure. I don’t know. In five years I honestly see Angels & Airwaves as being a gigantic rock band doing anything and everything it wants to do, from cinema to technology and a lot of different ambitious, artistic ideas. That band is going to push the envelope. Blink, if we do the right record next, we could be in stadiums. That’s proving itself because of this tour. I really think that. Maybe not, but it seems that way to me. But it has to be the right record and it has to be something that we really all go in and focus on and nail. So I guess the next five years, I could have these two things that are monsters but at the same time are equally gratifying in many ways. But I think another big fear I guess is how do you make them both succeed when you start cutting yourself down so thin. You know, I don’t fucking know. I’ll call you in the next five years and tell you (laughs).

Thanks to Chewy030 from the forums!

Posted on Posted in AVA, blink-182, Tom DeLonge

About henrique

Administrator for 182online

36 Responses to The Aquarian Interview With Tom

  1. SlidesinEasily

    If they don’t want people to hear a youtube version of the song, then release it as a fucking single so we can hear it as a studio quality song. I’m pretty sure it’s done… those bastards.

    It really doesn’t help when he says it’s probably one of the best songs they’ve ever written. *cuts self*

  2. Kay

    I hate reading Toms interviews. he depresses me.

  3. Gregory

    how are you pretty sure it’s done? when they have said in the past that it’s not done yet, then that probably means it’s not done yet.

  4. allusionmaster

    slidesineasily needs medication

  5. blink

    Tom, what the fuck is your problem? AVA is SHIT. it’s not popular and it never will be. it will never be a gigantic rock band.

  6. D-dawg

    I only read the interesting questions. ignored some. =] toms in denile he’s in the best band ever.

  7. PatHare182

    top 3 best songs ever written? fuck yeh

  8. Josh

    hah mark drinks now. i hope he’s a slightly coordinated drunk or else the $50 ticket was a waste when it comes to hearing good music.

  9. EMma

    the last answer to the question really bothers me. whats wrong with tom?? why does he keep thinking ava is a HUGE rock band. i mean there not. not at all. blink is though. why cant he understand someone explain

  10. dysenterypinky

    i agree with D-dawg. i ignored some questions too specially the one that involves ava. i like ava but nothing compares and will ever be big than blink

  11. danny

    ugh. tom needs to stop witting so much about AVA. Have you noticed or thought that they’re not even gonna have to balance everything out. Ok blink is gonna tour Europe, that’s gonna be HUGE. then they’re gonna release a new album which is gonna be fucking HUGE and then theyre gonna support for that album and do a lot of touring and press and all that good stuff. i really don’t see tom fitting A LOT of ava into that.

  12. Adim

    he said it himself “AVA IS A FULL TIME THING”. you people are idiots

  13. SlidesinEasily

    “how are you pretty sure it’s done? when they have said in the past that it’s not done yet, then that probably means it’s not done yet.”

    Because it was almost released before the tour. Mark said so himself a few weeks before the tour began. But at the last minute he claimed that they didn’t have time to finish the song. BS. They’re just holding it for promotion probably after the tour.

  14. deoo


    dont be stupid plz! turn on your 12-years old brain and start to think.

    btw clash was not popular in their age also

  15. eRviNg

    tom you are great
    but travis and mark are more

  16. mike

    Please don;t focus on ava as much as blink… ava is ok… but blink is epic..don’t you see that tom? ava will never be as big as blink i dunno why yo can’t except that

  17. Lewis Chappell

    …it’s a shame that he thinks AvA will be rock gods and Blink just the fuck up band. Blink are more popular and I think that hurts him deep down…like he feels stupid about it. His immature band is better than his Epic space age shit.

  18. j0fiz

    lol tom still thinks AvA is an epic world-changing band. in reality, 9 out of 10 people these days probably have no idea who they are.

  19. jeffgq

    fuck all y’all…..hes layin it on the is one of the biggest tours of the summer and they’re playing to 20,000 people a night. i fucking love it. cant wait to seee them in west palm on sept. 26th…and im in my mid-30’s…grew up with these guys

  20. Appleanche

    I don’t think Tom realizes that he is already in a gigantic rock band that can do whatever it wants.

  21. Bill

    jeeeez…AVA is OK for what it is,Blink is for sure one the best bands around today. Headstrong TOM will end up with ONE buttkick band
    and it will not be AVA I’m afraid. It’s funny he made the Grateful Dead reference, most of the that band had one or more side projects that were good but nothing compared to ‘Real Deal’. Tom… you can have your cake and eat it too, but your fans will choose the flavor.

  22. D-dawg

    Well said, Bill. Well said.

  23. deoo

    i just red all comments here and i cant believe for some people what bullshit they write..

    your thinking is:
    blink is bigger than ava so Tom doesn’t need to play ava music anymore,
    even if he prefers it more nowdays at his mature age.
    blink is fun and their touring also for him, but ava is music what he want to play atm.

    i hope u ll understand it one day when u grow up

  24. EMma

    why cant tom realize that ava is the fuck up band with 3000 people going to a concert compared to the real epic rock band blink with 20000 people going to a concert. whats going on in toms head these days? is he taking pain killers again?

  25. tash

    AVA never can be good as blink is.
    Blink is a big band today & more famous than AVA.
    & AVA never can be that famous like blink is.

    so i’m not that worried..
    Tom will realize it soon too..

  26. naaa

    ava > blink. this is it

  27. Austin

    Its not about the money.
    Its not about the fame.
    Its not about ticket sales, or CDs or radio play.
    Its about the music, and what he wants to play.
    If you guys think tom is going to hold them back from rushing out a new CD then your stupid. There will be no rushing with anything. They all have their kids and will want to chill at home for a while and work on their seperate projects. The time Tom spends with AVA will be time for Travis and DJ AM and Mark and his remixes/producing.

  28. Conor

    “I don’t think Tom realizes that he is already in a gigantic rock band that can do whatever it wants.” agreed

    i personally dont see AVA making it to “the top”
    blink however could explode

  29. grace

    yeah but… Tom liks playing in AVA, so why should he stop. the man can do what he wants

  30. Dsdrums

    I’m probly one o he biggest blink buffs out there and I have to say that although Ava may not be as big as blink, they’re only been a round for a few years and have only had tel albums, which were fucking great. It’s not like he’s saying he only wants to do AVA, if that was the case he wouldn’t have agreed to do the blink tour. He’s still focussing on Ava cuz that’s what he loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love blink more than any band out there, but from a musical standpoint, Ava is much more developed, there are so many tracks and so many effects that the music really does take you somewhere, listen to heavn or the adventure and tell me it’s not great. Think about this…if blink stayed broken up, and angels and airwaves was started by someone other than Tom but sounded exactly the same, would you all still be hating? You people are just mad at Tom b/c he loves his new band, and you’re scared he won’t put 100% into blink. honestly I believe in Tom and I think he can put 101% into both blink and ava and succeed at having 2 huge rock bands

  31. Alex

    I think In the next 5 years AVA has a real chance at working out to be huge as long as Blink stick at it aswell. Plenty of new AVA fans will come out of the blink tour and next album just to see what all the hype is about.

    Plus if tom said he wants to do both. Why do you all want him to stop AVA. its not like your gonna miss out on Blink.

    I personally think AVA are amazing and so are Bliink. The idea of him doing AVA was so he could do something different. So stop whining about them and understand its supposed to be different to blink. different audience morons.

  32. an

    i totally agree with you

  33. Breezie

    im not a big AvA fan. But there are plenty of people who are so Tom should continue on with it. The only thing I don’t like is that he claims they will one day be the best. I think he should be happy with what he has and simply wish for the best. Or at least put that much pride into blink as well.

  34. Jordan

    Honestly, I think all of you are blowing this out of proportion. Obviously, Blink-182 is the priority here, because he’s leaving AvA behind and going on this big tour. And I think he’s being pretty modest about Blink and thinking that they haven’t been ‘to the top’ yet. Blink-182 is one of the hugest bands of this era, and if they keep pumping energy into it, they’re only going to get bigger and bigger. Just as he said,
    “Blink is a phenomenon I think where we sum up a way of life for suburbia that I don’t think any other band has really done the way we’ve done it. Who knows. It might be the new Grateful Dead but for a whole different audience. We might be able to cruise around and play for that young adult teenage bracket for the rest of our lives.”
    1]Blink-182 has given us things that no other band has brought to the table. Other bands will certainly try, but nobody can trump Blink. Nobody.
    2]Blink is HUGE. And when I have kids, I’m going to raise them on Blink, and if they’re still around in 15 years and going on tours, I’m sure that both me and my kids will be in attendance.
    I don’t think you guys should worry about him neglecting this amazing band. Let him play around with AvA, let him have his little side project. Sorry, but with a band like Blink… It doesn’t matter how big AvA gets [and I won’t deny that they were big around me, one of my favorite teachers used to play AvA during class to keep us all working hard.], it’ll always be the side project. Because Blink is where it’s at.
    This is what us fans really want. Release your AvA stuff in February, go play with them all you want. Let’s just not forget about what the fans *really* want.

  35. Emily

    Tom’s being too ambitious…like he’s excited about all his new ava shit and macbeth. but he doesnt realize how more people want blink WAYYY more then they want ava. its kinda annoying. he wants to be big by himself…i think hes trying to prove he doesnt need anyone else…like with macbeth thats all tom. he just has to come to terms and make blink bigger then its ever been thats what everyone wants.

  36. Ayesha Amati

    Extremely interesting post thanks for sharing I have added your blog to my bookmarks and will check back.