Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Tom DeLonge, Angels & Airwaves

In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: former Blink-182 member turned Angels & Airwaves frontman Tom DeLonge

1: Can you name three musicians who appeared in Eric Slick’s recent celebrity ‘Imagine’-parodying mass sing-a-long video of Blink-182’s ‘I Miss You’?

“Oh I haven’t seen that. I saw Phoebe Bridgers doing it on Twitter, and then I posted a video of me singing it responding to her. I thought it was good, but I didn’t know other people had done it.”

WRONG. Among many others singing in an exaggerated Tom DeLonge style were: Mac DeMarco, Danny Brown, Fleet Foxes‘ Robin Pecknold, Natalie Prass, Kevin Morby, Caroline Rose and Pedro The Lion‘s David Bazan.

“I didn’t know it was a coordinated thing! I just responded to Phoebe’s tweet, and didn’t do a deep dive into it.”

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Have you been enjoying people’s Blink-related lockdown content? For example, two fans change ‘What’s My Age Again?’ to ‘Wash My Hands Again’

“Every once in a while, my friends will send me something and it warms my heart that people care about anything I’ve done. That band always stood for eternal youth and having a good time. It reminds you of summer, getting out of school, getting away from your parents and falling in love for the first time, so I can understand if certain people want to revisit or celebrate that in a time like this when it’s difficult, and that’s definitely something I can relate to.”

2: Who did Angels & Airwaves perform between at Reading/Leeds Festival in 2012?

“Didn’t we perform right before Bloc Party?”

WRONG. You were sandwiched between Crystal Castles and Coheed and Cambria. 

“OK, maybe I just watched Bloc Party! Those are both great bands – what a fantastic line-up.”

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That was the year The Cure headlined. Blink-182 worked with Robert Smith on the 2003 track ‘All of This’. How was that experience?

“When Robert Smith sang on the Blink song, we put it on in the studio and all of our hearts stopped in our chest. We couldn’t believe one of our heroes was on our record. Each time we played it, we got goosebumps. The Cure are a top-five band for me, so it was an important day in my life and incredible validation for us as young kids trying to musically grow and do different things. To have someone like him who I think is one of the best songwriters on earth contribute to our band – we didn’t make him cooler; he made us a lot cooler.”

 

3: Who once branded Blink-182 “rockabilly music on crack”?

“I don’t know, but I have heard that. Why do I feel it was us? (Laughs) Did we say it? We’re not rockabilly, so I can’t imagine we said it. But we used to tell people we were a mariachi band. Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, we even released a press photo which was a picture of a real mariachi band with ‘Blink-182’ written underneath, and people printed it in newspapers. The journalists didn’t know who we were, so would write articles like ‘Blink-182 are playing tonight’ next to this picture of a mariachi band, and we thought that was funny.”

WRONG. It was Noel Gallagher.

“Noel Gallagher said that about Blink?! When I met Oasis for the first time, they were wild. At that point, we were very young and playing areas with all these other bands – including Oasis – and we thought it was a way to offend everybody. That particular night when Oasis was headlining, it was a big radio show. We were really triple X-rated – we said some pretty bad shit – and I remember Liam comes running into the dressing room afterwards and goes: ‘Are you Blink-182? You’re the best I’ve seen in America’. (Laughs) And I said: ‘You like us?!’ And he goes: ‘I didn’t say that – I said you’re the best I’ve seen in America.’ And he slammed the door. After he did that, I thought: I love this band, I love him, I love that whole exchange. Here’s a guy that’s as punk as any of my friends and he’s in Oasis and these guys have balls and grit – as a rock band should.”

4: In 1997, on the Van’s Warped Tour, Blink-182’s performance of ‘Josie’ was interrupted by a naked man wearing… what?

“If he was naked, I wouldn’t think he was wearing anything! In those days, if it was ‘Josie’, then maybe he was wearing a sombrero? We had naked people at every single show back in those days, so it definitely wasn’t something unique!”

WRONG. He was sporting an E.T mask.

“He knew what I would bring to the world later, then! That’s good – he was helping me out!

Do your music and extraterrestrial interests collide very often?

“It always blows my mind when people in deep black [classified] government programmes are fans of mine. The head of the UFO programme came to my [Angels & Airwaves] show in D.C.. No-one’s allowed to know who he is, no-one knows he’s there – but I did. I was onstage thinking: ‘Man, if the young kid in Blink that wrote a song called ‘Aliens Exist‘ over 20 years ago knew what I was involved in these days, he would just die!”

5: What is the name of the ‘Macarena’ spoof Blink-182’s record label prevented you from including on the album ‘Dude Ranch’?

“(Laughs) That is ‘Hey Wipe Your Anus’.”

CORRECT.

“Yay – I’ve got one point today! We had three songs that were really bad – one was ‘When You Fucked Grandpa, Did He Tell You That He Loved You?‘, one was something to do with Hitler and one was the ‘Hey Wipe Your Anus’ Macarena spoof. Our label came in to listen to the first songs after ‘Enema of the State‘ – which was Blink’s big record that blew up, so they wanted to hear what we following it up with. We sat the president of the label and the head of A&R down and those were the three songs we played them, and we kept serious faces throughout. (Laughs) They turned white as ghosts – they didn’t think anything about it was funny. They literally thought that was what we’d been working on for six months and that’s all we had to show for it!”

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6: In the Family Guy episode ‘It’s a Trap!’, who does Peter Griffin think ‘All The Small Things’ is sung by?

“Oh, I didn’t even know that we were mentioned on Family Guy.

WRONG. He assumes Sum 41 performed that song.

“(Laughs) Oh my God, all of the pop-punk bands were interchangeable back in the day to somebody who doesn’t listen to that kind of stuff, so that’s funny that they would do that.”

What’s been the weirdest use of your music?

“I was told was these special forces guys that went into Iraq and kidnapped a terrorist cell leader. They put him in a trunk and drove him across the border into another country, locked him in a small room and blasted Blink-182 for 48-hours straight. (Laughs) I was like: our music is being used for torture?!”

 

7: You appeared in a Mad TV sketch called ‘Leave It To Blink-182’ in 2001. Can you name any of the three things found under your bed?

“Gosh, I don’t know – I imagine it would be adult magazines. That was a long time ago! I remember the skit, but nothing else about it.”

WRONG. The answer is two porn stars, a fifth of Jack Daniel’s and a naked munchkin.

“See, that’s all you need, right? That’s your lockdown starter pack!”

What’s the most surreal offer you’ve turned down?

“When Blink were at our height, we were turning down so many stupid offers. I remember they wanted Mark [Hoppus] and I to make a heist movie and we were like: gosh, that’s dumb. But the worst thing we should have turned down was running around naked in LA. That video to ‘What’s My Age Again?‘ was big for us, but when we were actually doing it, cars were driving back honking horns and yelling homophobic slurs at us. (Laughs) And we’re standing there with our dicks hanging out. It’s like: What are we doing? How did we end up here? It’s all fun and games – until someone honks a horn at you and points and laughs at your naked body.”

8: In 2004, what number did you reach in Elle Girl‘s 50 Sexist Men poll?

“Was I 50? (Laughs) I don’t know!”

WRONG. You were 15 – sexier than The Used’s Bert McCracken at 16, but not as hot as Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba, who ranked at number 14.

“Nice! You see, I knew I was one of the sexiest people that year! I knew it! Well, we were three handsome punk rock kids.”

Ever received any other unusual accolades?

“I won UFO Researcher of the Year in 2017 which was funny because that’s not something I strive to be! (Laughs) There’s so much more to my company, To The Stars, is involved in: legislation and national security policy, advanced technology and scientific discovery, but then you get this award like you’re in a basement collecting data and playing video games all night (Laughs). That’s not really my life.”NME Braincells logo

 

9: What are the two hidden tracks on the yellow ‘Pants’ edition of Blink-182’s ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’?

“I remember we wrote a song called ‘Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over‘ and I wonder if that’s one? I always liked it. Did I win at that one? No? Was ‘What Went Wrong‘ one of them?”

WRONG. ‘What Went Wrong’ is indeed one – the other is ‘Fuck a Dog’.

“Whenever I post a picture of a dog, all these fans that know that song start asking me if I’m going to have sex with this dog, and I always laugh so hard because I know there are people that follow me from the Government and from national security who probably have no idea why all these fucked-up people say that! They’re like: ‘What the fuck is wrong with these people? Why are they talking about these things?’. If you’re coming into my world because you follow what I do on the international stage, then the dog-fucking must be confusing! (Laughs)”

10: You sell merch on your To The Stars website. How much does one of your ‘Boomer Too Rad’ (which depicts Boomer, a character Tom plays in Blink-182’s ‘First Date’ video, and reads: ‘Boomer is too busy bein’ rad and making out with your dad’) T-shirts cost?

“I would imagine it’s about $30?”

CORRECT.

“We have a T-shirt that says ‘Butts ‘n’ Dicks since ’76‘ and I thought that was a good saying too!”

How many times a month do people yell ‘OK Boomer!’ at you?

“(Laughs) The boomer meme has been around for a while, but the Boomer character has somehow really held its place in history. I think Blink’s ‘First Date’ video with that character in was incredible, and I’ve been bringing him back every few years. That character will probably live on forever. That’s my goal for him.”

The verdict: 2/10

“That’s one more than I thought I was going to get!”

Angels & Airwaves’ new single, ‘All That’s Left Is Love’, is available now, with all proceeds donated to the charity Feeding America.

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