Tom DeLonge tells hmv.com about the long-awaited return of Angels and Airwaves...
As they get older, artists tend to slow down, especially artists who've sold over 50 million records and sold out arenas all over the world, but Tom DeLonge is not most artists.
DeLonge is still best known for his days with Blink-182, the band he co-founded with Mark Hoppus and recorded six hugely successful studio albums. After initially being part of the band's reunion from 2009 through to 2014, DeLonge left the group in a messy departure. The band had been wanting to record new material and tour and DeLonge could not commit the time to do so. It's been quite clear why in the years since, with DeLonge revealing that he was planning to release two solo albums, 15 novels and two Angels and Airwaves albums.
Thus far five novels have come and an expansion into DeLonge's other passion, aliens, UFOs, and conspiracy theories. He has gone as far as founding To the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, a company, which as well as an entertainment division, has aerospace and science divisions dedicated to ufology and the fringe science proposals.
It's no wonder then that the new Angels and Airwaves record has taken so long to come together, but it finally has, and is out today.
Billed as a return to DeLonge's pop-punk roots, moving away from the mellower tones of the band's last effort, 2014's The Dream Walker, the album also features the return of guitarist David Kennedy and new bassist Matt Rubano.
With Lifeforms on hmv's shelves now, we spoke to DeLonge about why he decided the time was right for another album...
This is your longest gap between records, seven years in all, can you give us a summary of why it’s taken a while for the album to come together?
"I started it years ago sparingly because I didn’t have much time. By the time we actually went on tour for the first time in years and the pandemic hit, we didn’t have more time and more inspiration to make it something much bigger and more special. I’ve been putting out music over the years continuously, but this is the first time I’ve done an album and quite a while."
You’ve focused largely on EPs in recent times, why did you decide it was time for a record?
"After we went on tour last fall, we realised that to come back in full stride we need to put in the effort to show we were serious with our art."
You’ve been working in earnest on the record for a long time, how many songs did you end having to choose from?
"We had about 12 songs to choose from, I never write a bunch of songs and then pick the best. I always write the exact amount needed but put a lot of thought and effort into what those particular songs are meant to sound like."
The last time you made an album, it was just you and Ilan, this album sees the band back as a four-piece, did that change that dynamic?
"Normally Ilan and I are the ones who shape the record, so if we are not touring there isn’t much reason to take it bigger than that. But on this record, we are back at it and it made sense to get everyone together."
This is your first album since Matt Rubano joined the band, what did he bring to the writing and recording process?
"Matt is one of the most brilliant bass players I’ve ever seen, but he’s an even better human being. His skill sets, humour and friendship have made the band and recording process even that much more amazing."
You did the album with Erin Rubin, when did you decide he was the right man to produce the record?
"Aaron was brought to the table by his brother, and I started using him after our old producer Critter passed away. Erin is like a version of Critter, but he has all of these progressive skillsets with songwriting that have really pushed me to be much better. He is an integral part of the band."
What did he give you as a producer?
"Aaron is constantly pushing to have the songs sound different, and have the band evolve. He doesn’t want to keep repeating the same things over and over again. Which any artist can end up doing without somebody pushing them."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"Lyrically, this album is about the interactions we have with the ones we love, the people we see every day, and how those interactions affect us and shape our lives."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right? And which came together most quickly?
"I would think 'Euphoria', that was the longest one. 'Time Bomb' was a quick and effortless composition."
The artwork is quite something, where did you find that image or is it a new piece?
"Leonardo da Vinci created the “Vitruvian Man“ to represent art and science coming together. It's the measurable and the unmeasurable joining forces. Normally those things would land within religion or metaphysics, but the future of humanity is when they all merge together."
When did you decide that Lifeforms was the right fit for the album’s title?
"About six months before the album is finished the name was presented by some fellow artists that were working on the project and it made perfect sense."
How are your live plans shaping up? How’s the rest of 2021 looking?
"Right now I’m focused on tour, and that’s about all I can think of at the moment. And I’m already exhausted. We are coming to the UK in March, so make sure you wear a condom..."