Interview With Tom DeLonge of blink-182: Older, But Still Not Grown Up

I’ve got a college-age writer who is bugging me about seeing the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective and all these indie bands, and the last thing I was expecting was him to ask me to see the blink-182 show, but he did. Has your fanbase kind of grown up with you in a weird way?

It’s a really weird question. Every day I’m trying to figure out, who the fuck are all these people here? I was 16-years-old when I started Blink, so I’m thinking our fans at the time, when we really got popular, I was like 22 or 23, a lot of the fans were just about 16-years-old, so I would imagine here that in 2009 that most of our fans should be late 20s. But they’re not (laughs). I don’t know man, it’s weird. It’s hard to analyze an audience when you’re looking at 20,000 people. It looks like people are between the 17 and 25 bracket, which means that you have a lot of people that were really young when the band popped but are now bringing their younger brother or something. Blink is a phenomenon I think where we sum up a way of life for suburbia that I don’t think any other band has really done the way we’ve done it. Who knows. It might be the new Grateful Dead but for a whole different audience. We might be able to cruise around and play for that young adult teenage bracket for the rest of our lives (laughs). I don’t know.

I don’t know if all the jaded 17 and 20-year-olds are going to be following your tour bus around, but they are following you on your Modlife thing. You started that about a year ago, right?

Yeah, Modlife has been up I guess about a year, we’ve been building it for about three or four years. It’s singlehandedly one of the things I’m most proud of in my life because it truly is revolutionary. We identified a bunch of ways that would help a band not only get bigger and help a band make money again but also make their art more interesting and more exciting for fans to buy into. And here we go. We probably have maybe 20 smaller bands in the pipeline, but we just launched the White Stripes, we just launched Korn. There’s a couple big A-level acts that I can’t talk about that are in the pipeline. Obviously Angels & Airwaves’ on there. Blink’s not on there, but we just got back together and we’re not forcing anything down anyone’s throat, you know. We created a platform that’s completely free to the artist and protects everything they’ve got but it gives them a way to make subscriptions, advertising money, pay-per-view money, to sell music, to sell movies, live broadcasting, interactive auto-generating chatrooms, automated meet-and-greets, VIP parties, advance ticketing sales, it’s crazy. At the same time, the 8 out of 10 kids keep coming back. The level of loyalty and happiness is insane. Because for the first time, an artist will get on a camera and talk to so-and-so from Idaho personally in front of 10,000 other kids. We’re really stoked. We’re talking to NASCAR and country artists and poets and authors and universities that are doing expeditions. I think Modlife is truthfully a chance to be something massive and revolutionary. The artist ends up making 75 percent of every dollar and they never get a bill and they own everything. It’s really pissing off the record labels that’s for sure.

For Blink, you almost got ‘Up All Night’ done, but you didn’t have the ability to control it if you played it live, it would be up on YouTube. Is that control issue part of it with Modlife?

When you try to account for how an artist makes money there’s like a thousand ways. And one of the ways an artist makes money is if your stuff does get played on YouTube, but to try to collect on that stuff is really difficult. Modlife keeps everything central. Everything is at your own home base, it’s your primary website. When we made the song for Blink, it was almost finished. It’s not so much that we were concerned that it was going to get played somewhere where we didn’t have control of it. We were just concerned that the first impressions weren’t going to be the beautiful hard work that we put into recording the song and the way we recorded it. At the end of the day there’s only three of us onstage, but in the studio you can really twist and turn the audio signals to do something special. It’s two different mediums, one is creating the art, the other is communicating it. I always feel you should communicate it after you’ve created it. That’s the only reason.