Tom DeLonge takes a moment out during recording to give some insight on the new record and a new year.
Have you just finished the record?
We just finished the record a few days ago.
I have the single “Feeling This”, is it indicative of the rest of the record?
The hardest thing is to talk about the record because no one has heard it. So it does sound like the song, but no it doesn’t sound like it either. It is different and it’s not like the stuff we have done. There isn’t one song on the whole record that sounds like the whole record sounds like. We spent a year working on the record and from beginning to end. It’s supposed to be a whole album. I wanted the record to be something that turn down the lights, smoke a joint and listen to and read the art work and listen to it front to back. We see it as an art piece and that is why we spent so much time on it.
Is it growth personally or musically? Both?
I don’t think we’ll ever grow up more than we are. Our own version of growing up is paying our bills on time rather than going out drinking. As far as music, we have grown up, but it is maturity in our musicianship and better songwriters. We like to challenge ourselves as an artist. If you are a painter you don’t paint the same picture every year, you grow and evolve and try to be the best painter you can be. It has nothing to being more punk or angrier that has to do with our genre. We want to be a band like the Police and The Cure where you hear it twenty years later and it’s still the radest song ever. You can’t doubt their songwriting ability. That is where we are at.
There are a lot of bands coming in on your wake; do you see the challenge as keeping ahead of these bands because they are copying you?
We do think about that stuff. We did what we wanted to do in the past, but now we are at a different point and can make a different record that challenges us and might carve out a small place in music history. If anyone likes it I don’t know, but that is our goal. We followed other bands, but I think we have our own style and bands following us don’t have their own style. They are missing that curiosity that we have. It has nothing to do with four walls that close you in that you have to be punk rock or selling records. We always just wanted to make music that we loved. This record will show that.
Do you challenge yourselves or is a group challenge to get better?
Both. I have a little thing that I do at the end of every record where I challenge myself to write one or two songs that I will love as much that I would want the band to go back in the studio and record it for the new record so that I know the next record will be good too. We challenge ourselves. Travis plays drums all day everyday because he wants to be the best drummer in the world. When we are in there we challenge each other and expect each other to add and do the best we can. Whatever it takes there is no ego and pride. It’s an agreement to make the songs the best they can be.
Did you write a lot of material?
We probably had fourteen or fifteen songs and they are all on the record. We did have a lot of stuff from fucking around and stuff, but all of our time wasn’t spent writing it was spent recording. We wanted to spend time making the songs more complex. Sonically when you listen to it they are all different. You’ll hear a lot of different things from the old stuff.
How involved are you in the studio?
We are massively involved. We don’t say where the mics should be, but we are in there 100% of the time telling them this isn’t right or that. Mark and I were there the whole entire time for everything. Travis toured some. We are really involved.
Do you have fun in the studio or do you just want to get on the road?
We have fun in the studio, but it has its positives and negatives. Being on the road sucks because you are gone and don’t see your family but you get to do what you got in a band to do which is play a live show. But being in the studio you are in there making this perfect piece of art the way you want it by twisting and turning it, but it’s always frustrating because it takes a while to make it perfect. We aren’t master musicians so it can get frustrating, but it can be fun too.
You guys are doing smaller venues on the first tour, was it to get the intimacy back?
We wanted to remind ourselves where we came from and our fans, too. But we wanted to show fans that we are lucky to be here and aware of it. The reason we are charging $1 for our shows is because we had to give out a paper ticket otherwise too many kids will show up and get hit by cars or something.
What are the things you have to have on the road?
My IPOD, my computer and photos of my family. Those are the three things that are important.
What is it like to meet fans and they tell you how important a song is to them?
It can be weird when it happens because I don’t know these people and don’t know what kind of affect it’s had on them. So when they say it’s had a crazy affect on it but I don’t know about them or how much it has affected them and I can’t really understand it. It is amazing and I hope it did have an affect on someone because I want to feel that our songs have a positive affect on people. We get told weird shit all the time. Like someone said they wanted to commit suicide but didn’t because of our songs and another guy tell us his son learned how to talk by listening to us and he had autism. We have kids faint, I mean it’s weird. It pisses me off because I’m totally normal dude. The only thing that is different is I’m more comfortable now and I can afford things I couldn’t before.
If you were in these fans position and wanted to meet a band and tell them what they meant to you who would it be?
For me it was the Dissendents and other punk rocks bands that didn’t mean much to a lot of people. I didn’t get into music until I was in junior high. I was into punk rock bands that captured my attention, but I really liked U2. There was something about them and their songwriting was really good. Like today, that is why they are the biggest band in the world because they are really good songwriters. We don’t want to be like the small punk rock bands we grew up liking, we want to be remembered for being really good songwriters.
U2 were actually punk, even though they got tagged as pop.
They were, but they were too good to be categorized, the same as the Police. That is what we want, we don’t want to be categorized we just want to be known as a good band.
Same as Public Enemy. They were punk rock, but were called hip-hop.
I told another interviewer that NWA was more punk rock than anyone. They didn’t give a fuck. Rap bands back in the day were gnarlier than anyone.
Put Black Flag together side to side with NWA and NWA would win.
I know. I have this friend who is an old punk guy who loved the Circle Jerks and the Clash and all these ‘80s punk bands and he told me the first time he heard NWA that they were ten times more punk than any band he had ever heard.
I wish I had your new album to talk more about.
I know, sorry about that. I think what we tried to do with the first single was give everyone a taste because when we were recording and someone would come to the studio and ask us what we recorded that was the song we played them. It has a bunch of stuff we have going on through the record, but it’s not indicative to the record. We have so much stuff happening electronically and weird segways and weird psychedelic intros and transmissions from NASA when we landed on the moon. We have people reading these sad letters and all this weird shit that is all based around melody.
It’s good that “Feeling This” doesn’t sum up the album for you because they you’d have an album that sounded the same.
Totally. The last thing in the world we wanted to do is write a record that sounds like our old records. You are so right; I’d hate to tell someone that if they like this song then they’ll love the whole record because it sounded so much alike.
I’m glad I got to talk to you, I also wanted to mention that it is cool that you are doing the smaller shows because there is nothing better than seeing a band you like in a small venue.
I know, small shows can be so much more powerful. They are ten times more intimate. For a normal fan that likes stuff on the radio they might want pyro and lights, but for a music lover and fan of the band they will feel it and don’t need the glamour.
I still say the best show I’ve ever seen was Travis playing a small club with a hundred people.
That would be awesome. They are such a good band. You know I saw something similar with Jimmy Eat World. I’m such a huge fan of theirs and I saw them in a bar with a hundred people and they were so powerful and amazing and then I saw them play in an arena with Green Day and it didn’t do them justice. When you see them in a small place you get the full impact.
+ Charlie Craine