Interview With Tom DeLonge of Angels & Airwaves @ Rock City, Nottingham – 9th April 2012

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Interview by Rob Moody

Rob Moody: This is the first night of the UK tour – is it the same as playing in Europe or does it feel like a new tour?

Tom DeLonge: It feels pretty new – we’ve worked hard to get to a point where we’re consistently producing high concept art, and showing that we give our all at our shows, but we don’t actually play that many shows. I think the fans know now what they’re going to get, and they know that it’s always going to improve, and that’s the important thing as a band, for people to know that you take yourself seriously, and that you take your art seriously. We know that our fans expect a lot from us, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to maintain a steady course, even through a period where we’ve dropped off record labels and moved on to a completely independent model now.

RM: So do you work with any record labels at all now?

DL: We use a couple for distribution, but everything else comes through ourselves – Angels & Airwaves has its own company, To The Stars, which is a production company, a record label and a merchandising company all in one. We’re focusing on feature films to go alongside the full length albums that we release, and then different forms of media and art which support those.

RM: Angels & Airwaves was initially your project, how much do the rest of the band now contribute in terms of new ideas, or is it still driven by yourself?

TDL: It’s super collaborative. I think a lot of people think this is just me, and I understand  why, but that’s not the case at all. One of the reasons that the band works so well, I think, is that every member of the band has a specific job, everyone has something to offer, and because of that we stay so busy all the time – I could be in the studio doing some tracking, Matt might be doing some of the segues and electronics, and then David is at his place working on some Fan Club stuff and Ilan is at his house remixing a song, for example. It’s like a full time job for us.

RM: Ilan has recently joined the band on tour – how has this affected the live shows and touring in general?

TDL: Oh, he’s insane! He is the most amazing musician I’ve ever met in my life. He’s the best piano player I’ve ever met, he’s good at drumming, he’s infinitely better than me on guitar, and he’s only like 23, it’s insane. He’s a prodigy in every sense of the word. What’s you’ll notice in the live show is quite a tremendous jump, from all the members, in how we put the show together, and the musicianship that we can offer.

RM: The band has played with a variety of different bands as part of tours and festivals – who is your favourite band that you have shared the stage with?

TDL: It’s hard to say, we’ve toured with so many. It was a lot of fun having bands like Green Day open up for Blink, playing shows with bands like The Descendents, and also playing shows with bands like Oasis. Blink even played a show once with Radiohead, in a club, about 20 years ago. It’s been an interesting journey, and we’ve shared the stage with a lot of great bands.

RM: And throughout your many tours you’ve played all different sizes of venues, this is one of the smaller shows on your current tour – how does the preparation and experience differ?

TDL: It’s exactly the same. We start out backstage listening to a certain type of music, and the music gets progressively louder and faster as we start drinking more and more! Then we make our way to stage on quite a bit of wine, and some old punk rock tunes, then there’s about 5 different handshakes, and a lot of making fun of one another – with Angels & Airwaves, we go on stage one at a time – Matt always goes on first – so as soon as he goes out, the other 3 of us are there behind the curtain just making fun of him!

RM: Does last year’s album mark the conclusion of the ‘Love’ theme, or will the band continue to experiment with this in the future?

TDL: It will be the last album, but the finale will be when we get to bring the movie and the full live show to the stage, which will happen at some point in the next couple of years. The Love theme will then be put aside, we’re moving onto StrangeTimes.com and Poet Anderson, which are two massive ideas. The goal is to do very, very large ideas, very ambitious ideas, which are all very different from each other, all sounding very different from each other, and also being very different both graphically and emotionally.

RM: Are you able to share any of the inspirations behind the new ideas at this stage?

TDL: Not yet – there’s already some stuff that’s made its way onto the internet, but that’s all for now.

RM: Will you be working on the new projects alongside the touring work you’re doing later this year with Blink 182, or is the plan to take a break from Angels & Airwaves whilst you do that?

TDL: We’re all working all the time, so even when I’m away over the summer they’ll still be working on it – for example we’re putting out the film score over the summer, and a remix record at the end of the year, and we’ll be filming a live album as well, which will come with a documentary. I’m only going to be away from the band for 2 months, so there’s plenty that can be done in that time.

RM: Any final message you’d like to pass on to followers of the band?

TDL: Nothing specifically, I just want people in the UK to understand what Angels & Airwaves is, and approach it not just like a normal band, but more like an art project, that has something of a new-age philosophy behind it, focusing on the human spirit. I think if people come in with those kind of filters, they will be far more interested in what we can offer. But if someone just likes a song and wants to come and enjoy that, then they’re more than welcome too!

RM: That’s great. Thanks for your time.

And you can read MR’s review of the gig by clicking here