Interview with Angels & Airwaves: Changes Alison Kopki February 13, 2008 Interviews Envisioned and formed by singer and guitarist Tom DeLonge, Angels & Airwaves, in listening to his explanation of this band, is a band determined to be more than simply a line list on his resume. He is accompanied by fellow past Box Car Racer guitarist David Kennedy, former drummer for The Offspring Atom Willard, and Matt Wachter, who recently joined after his departure as bassist for 30 Seconds To Mars. They are four musicians from varied backgrounds, all in their early 30s, who come together to create music that is ambient and full of feeling with a message. I-Empire is the second release from the group and came late last year with increased buzz about the exploration into other media for this band. Fighting bad reception, a cold day in Texas and the tail end of the flu, DeLonge was able to take some time to talk about the next great venture for Angels & Airwaves— cinema. Let’s begin with a project you have in the works—the I-Empire movie. It seems you guys are keeping it shrouded in mystery. What can you tell me about it? We started it out in a ways as a project that we wanted the message of the band to be something that remained constant, but we wanted the delivery of the message to be a medium that always changed. So we’re going to use a motion picture look and technology and all these different elements of communicating the message. The I-Empire movie is meant to communicate the philosophical roots and the context of what it is we’re doing, which was two records that have an autobiographic account of my life over two years of changing the world around myself based on what I can see the world being. I- Empire the album and the movie are about experiencing that change in your life. Is there a storyline? No, it’s a collection of vignettes that tie together that span time and space. There’s dialogue and it is also an art piece, there’s special effects, there is a circular narrative per se and there’s many different traveling parts that complete the whole. Who planned out what was going to happen then in the film? It’s me, it’s the band and the directors working together to create the story. But the director largely did most of the work based off of us describing what the music and what our message was. The movie is really just a visual companion piece to the songs. But we’re also very much involved on the entire making of the movie. The director himself is a very, very talented kid that has to get the credit for making this thing for sure, because it wasn’t me out there with a camera filming it. Would you want to get more involved with film in the future? I can see myself wanting to maybe, but I don’t know, it depends. It’s a lot of work and I kind of like to stick to what I know. You guys never really come out and completely describe exactly what’s going on with it. It’s a scary thing to do because everybody wants to doubt that it can be done. Everybody wants to compare it to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It’s a very large endeavor to go out and make a motion picture associated with a band. There have only been a handful of bands that have done it and 90 percent of them sucked. But this is really good. It’s like really, really good and it’s meant to give you chills. It’s meant to make you question the way you see the world. It’s meant to make you feel what we want the music to make you feel. We’ve spent a long time trying to make it the best it can possibly be. And I think people will end up writing books on how we did it on the budget that we did it for. How does it compare to other movie budgets? Way, way under budget. Way nothing compared to what they have on normal movies, but we did it with talent, you know. We did it with talent and not gigantic trucks and Brad Pitt stand-ins. Now I know you have a certain way that you want people to listen to the record, so then for the movie, is there a particular way you want it to be viewed? I haven’t thought of it that much. I think in this case, I just want it to sound good so I would love for people to see it at a place where the sound system is good. This is the thing—I don’t know if this is going to be in 1,000 theaters or if it’s going to be in one theater. At the end of the day, I want people if they do watch it, I want them to have all the lights off and turn it up loud and I want it to be in an environment, possibly not that sober, and they really sit down and they focus on it and try to get out of it what we’re hoping that’s what they get out of it. Now, you’ve also made a documentary and I heard it was submitted to Sundance. Was it shown there? No, it wasn’t shown at Sundance, but it got really close. At the end of the day, because the documentary, it brought a lot of obstacles in the making of this band and the break up of Blink, I think they had to categorize it as a different thing. It was borderline documentary and something else that didn’t quite work. Well, I’ll find out any day now about Tribeca and South by Southwest and L.A. Film Fest and all that stuff, so we plan on having a pretty wide special release here. For the documentary, you had said you wanted it to be true to life. What do you think viewers are going to be surprised to learn about you guys? That I was a drug addict, and I was caught in a really foreign place when I created this band, and I think that the band’s message ended up pulling me out of a lot of hard times. So I’ve been enacting this change upon myself, which was the next step I had to do. 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