In times of trouble – such as, y’know, right now with the outbreak of COVID-19 – humans are actually quite good at helping each other, from key workers taking on roles that are beyond important, to those trying their best to keep morale afloat, supporting the wellbeing of others.
One of these people is Tom DeLonge. Releasing a third Angels & Airwaves single, ‘All That’s Left Is Love’ to aid Feeding America, a charity that “feeds millions every week across the United States”, this isn’t his first foray into helping them out – he’s also “popped up to schools, helped put food out to families on holidays, and different things like that.”
But knowing his musical craft is a platform for good, Tom stuck his head in the studio and gave words to a feeling felt across the world on a track that musically existed before everything turned upside down.
Following on from two previous standalone singles, ‘Rebel Girl’ and ‘Kiss & Tell’, the igniting moment for ‘All That’s Left Is Love’ was a scene that’s been cropping up more over the last couple of months.
“I felt like people were pushing each other into a cyclical state of fear and anxiety,” Tom starts. “I’ve done a lot of reading on consciousness and people’s energy. The problem is that a lot of people are feeling this one particular thing, [and] it literally does affect the world – the material world around you.
“It really moved me to think that with the mass consciousness in a group of people, and they all put their mind to something, can pretty much conquer anything,” he marvels. “So I wanted to do something, to put something out that made people feel a bit different. It’s not going to change the world, and it’s not going to get rid of the pandemic, but I feel if all artists contributed to try to lift people up, over time that could really change the state of anxiety and fear that’s going around right now, as difficult as it may be.”
As for where that next chapter on the Angels & Airwaves journey is at, “that will be done in the next couple of months”, with ‘All That’s Left Is Love’ appearing “but the record itself is still in progress… the first actual radio single has not been released yet.
“I’m really excited for that push, and for when that happens. We didn’t put this out to be a reflection of the record to come, we put it out because it was ready and all I had to do was sing on it, and I was really inspired to sing something that matters right now, to me, and to people. And that’s how we got here.”
The future for Angels & Airwaves has always been at the forefront for Tom, even back to the basics of leading the charge in the band’s creation by utilising “multimedia pieces to be a part of everything I do musically,” that’s all continuing onward.
“We have some big plans, but I can’t talk about them at the moment,” he smirks. “But my goal has always been the same which is to be ambitious, to really put yourself out there and be authentic to who you are, how you feel, and to try to do something that inspires positivity somehow,”
“Maybe there’s a few rated R rated and X rated jokes that make their way into the live shows,” he continues. “But that’s the old me, I can’t really get rid of that part of myself from the Blink world. I’ve always liked this kind of mix of positivity and rebellion, and humour can make the day go by a little bit easier.”
Angels & Airwaves have hope entwined around their very existence. When Tom needed to understand just what it is he wanted to give the world, he set out on their debut single ‘The Adventure’. As the road continued, he built an empire filled with “hope like fire”. And through the years he’s established himself as being someone that just wants to help the world, through love and knowledge.
“When we started Angels & Airwaves, I came out of the band blink-182 that I started when I was 16 years old, it was kind of like this young man’s crisis of identity and depression. Being so lucky and so fortunate to have a rock and roll band, that got to be one of the bigger bands in the world, and then all of a sudden you walk away from all of it, and you don’t know who you are anymore; no one knows you, or cares about you, other than your attachment to that specific legacy.”
Rediscovering who Tom is, isn’t too dissimilar to the current societal situation where the world over, people are rediscovering just what makes us… well, us. It’s breaking things down to their bare bones, and understanding what you’re left with.
“That specific legacy was not a 100% pure picture of who I was, it was one part of me – a major part of me, but not all of me,” he reasons. “When I created Angels & Airwaves, I didn’t know what it was gonna be. I didn’t know how it was gonna sound. I wanted to create an art project that was documenting an autobiographical journey of somebody who had to rediscover who they were, who they wanted to be and how they’re gonna live their life, you know, and that ended up creating a song.”
Talking of ‘The Adventure’, he says: “It kind of became the flagship song of what the band is about, and what we were hoping to achieve.” His voice rattles with the same hyperactive positivity that launched his band over a decade ago.
“I remember the moment that we that that song happened. I was able to look around and say ‘this is who we are’, you know? ‘This is who I am’. We’ve landed, and this is where we’re gonna build our empire. That’s why the next record was called ‘I, Empire'”
Optimism has been a part of Tom’s career for as long as he can remember, so for him, this was just par for the course. “I’m a big believer in that you put your mind to, you can pretty much accomplish anything,” he smiles.
“You hear these incredible stories where there’s a car crash and a mom can lift the entire car off of her child… and it’s all done with the power of the mind, for lack of a better description of it. It’s something that I’m passionate about. It’s something that I believe in.
“I feel like art has the ability to do that to people. I mean we’ve seen this on YouTube when they’ll take an animated movie trailer, like Lion King, and they’ll put scary music to it, and just by changing the music that makes it sound like a horror movie.
“Music has the frequency, to really affect you,” he marvels. “So this is my attempt to contribute something that feels a little bit more uplifting, and that’s something that this band stands for. Something that the band has authentically, and genuinely, done over a decade – thirteen years now we’ve been putting out these kinds of messages to inspire people to think differently about themselves, and think differently about the world. This is right up our alley, this is what we like to do.”
Charitable actions aside, Tom is still going through the same experience the rest of us are. Camped out at his cabin in the mountains of his native Southern California, he knows he’s “pretty fortunate.”
“We have pretty good weather, so I’m going on a couple of walks, that’s really the best medicine a guy like me can have – nature and clean air, and seeing a sunset or something,” he says. “I need nature, and trees, I need the ocean. It’s harder for people that are stuck inside cities like New York or London or whatever; they can’t really leave the flat.”
Keeping his own hope aflame, while no easy feat, stems from the same place that ‘All That’s Left Is Love’ does. On a personal, granular level, he says creatively expressing himself is a major part of that, and he tends “to get depressed and down if I’m not able to create something.”
Knowing not everyone has a creative outlet, Tom offers his own piece of wider advice that is simple enough in nature: “Being able to talk to people and help others,” is another way of stoking the hope.
“I always tell people when you feel at your worst, when you feel as down as you possibly can, I dare you to start helping others somehow,” he challenges. “Because that will change your mood. It’s really hard to muster up the energy to go help others when you are yourself in need, but I promise you that will always take away some of the pain, if not all of it.”
Taken from the May issue of Upset. Angels & Airwaves’ single ‘All That’s Left Is Love’ is out now.