Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2014
DARE TO DREAM
Moving into new realms of creativity with the release of a comic book, novel, animated short and full-length feature film, Angels & Airwaves’ frontman Tom Delonge tells Daniel Cribb the smorgasbord of multimedia resonates back to one “stoned” night in Paris 15 years ago.
With furry companion Henry by his side and a sofa to sink into, a relaxed Tom Delonge is still riding a wave of excitement from scoring Best Animation at the Toronto International Short Film Festival for Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker. “Hey, we win shit because we’re awesome, period,” the Blink-182 guitarist-turn-visionary laughs. The short film is just part of AVA’s latest independently-funded ambitious endeavor, which includes album, The Dream Walker, which plays soundtrack to the short film, and a comic book. All of which will be followed up next year by a novel and features film surrounding protagonist Poet Anderson, who has been in the public eye since the band’s inception in 2005. But Anderson has been around longer than that. “I came up with the idea when I was super stoned in a hotel in Paris about 15 years ago, dreaming up the idea that there needed to be a new Peter Pan, but cool. I never really knew what the story was, and I played around with different concepts but many years later, I got into journals and documentaries about dreams and nightmares comparing them to the real world, the way that decisions you make during the day, you’ve kind of journeyed through them the night before.
That really resonated with me, and the idea of this character, that was how it came about. I like to play with juxtaposition, and it all became a fantastic kind of arc quite quickly… I got a screenplay writer to check both of these things out and tell me which direction it should be. One was very normal, you know, coming of age, and then the second one was very futuristic with spaceships and wars and light and dark. We merged them both together and that’s where we kind of ended up long after the start.”
Although the band released another award-winning film in 2011, sci-fi art piece feature film Love, they recruited writers to take control of that and work with their initial concept. The Poet stories were written by Delonge, who’s increasingly stepping outside his mainstay of writing music, last year penning children’s Christmas book The Lonely Astronaut. “Music’s hard, because when you write lyrics, you’re very limited, you have a line with a certain amount of words or something. When you write a screenplay or a short story, you can really expand what you’re trying to say, and it’s so free,” Delonge explains.
The Dream Walker still delivers the big choruses that AVA made a name for themselves with, as evident in the album’s first single, Paralyzed, but also sees them branch into new territory, experimenting more with electronic elements in Kiss With A Spell and even introducing an acoustic track to close the album, Anomaly, with Delonge also expanding his lyrical focus. “I probably needed to ground the band, bring it back to earth, and be more raw – there’s other bands that are very kind of atmospheric, big, ultra-serious kind of space rock-y type stuff now when I look; so to me it’s kind of rebelling against other people kind of picking up and entering what we were, I guess.
“I wanted [lyrical] ambiguity. I didn’t want to stick anything right under your nose. Lyrically I love the idea of painting, like Jackson Pollock, capturing an event in real time… I didn’t want to be right under the nose, and you can’t stuff it into a box, you’ve got to let the art go where it wants to go, too.”
It’s easy to hear Delonge’s influences when it comes to Blink-182, but the lines become blurred when analysing AVA – a task made even harder on The Dream Walker, but with good explanation. The band’s fifth record is the first time Delonge has written a majority of the material in collaboration with someone else, drummer Ilan Rubin. “I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff; I’m always listening to a lot of older stuff with an interesting background. Ilan listens to a lot of rock, Queen and The Beatles. I grew up with punk rock, which is a much simpler form; it comes from a tribe of people representing an idea and rebelling. But bridging the gap between those two worlds is something that took a little bit of time.
“I think we found a mutual respect. I’ve never been a Zeppelin fan until I met Ilan. I learned to like it and learned why he likes it so much, and I think likewise he’s learning why the punk rock scene mattered… What I learned was being around a fantastic musician like Ilan – he’s better than anybody I know – is so inspiring.”
Angels & Airwaves’ new record, The Dream Walker, and its accompanying animated short film, Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, drop 9 Dec via To The Stars.