The fifth time’s the charm for Angels & Airwaves — at least insofar as group founder and blink-182 principle Tom DeLonge’s dream to make the group “an art project, not just a band.”
The band’s fifth and latest album, The Dream Walker — due out Dec. 9 — is just one component of a set of an overarching concept that includes a comic book series published by Magnetic Press, a novel by Suzanne Young, an anime short and, ultimately, a feature film all following the adventures of the lucid dreamer Poet Anderson. Listen to “Tunnels” from the new album, premiering exclusively at Billboard.com:
“I had this idea for a new version of Peter Pan, just without the green tights,” DeLonge tells Billboard about the character. “Over time I’ve become really fascinated with the idea of dreams and the idea that space, when you’re asleep and dreaming, is really infinite and has infinite possibilities. Who’s to say that when you’re dreaming you’re not experiencing something somewhere else? That really resonates with me.
“So the whole Poet Anderson concept is how do we take this grand idea of dreams and their meanings and wrap it with an adventure that has legs and has infinite scope and latitude of where it can go — but top it off with a character who’s f***in’ cool. The whole thing is just a fantastic journey — the story itself and creatively, with all the great people I’m getting to work with on it. It’s this big mash-up of Blade Runner, Star Wars, Harry Potter or something, dark and spooky and very violent with fast-moving dream warriors, starships and glowing motorcycles and glowing armor. It’s unreal.”
With that in place, DeLonge and chief AVA musical collaborator Ilan Rubin decided that it was the right time “to switch up the sound of the band… to catch everybody off guard with what we’re capable of.” And he full credits Rubin with The Dream Walker‘s more musically advanced soundscape.
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“With Ilan, you have a guy who comes from the school of Queen, Zeppelin, the Beatles, and when he likes a band he learns everything about them,” DeLonge explains. “I’m the polar opposite — I grew up in a punk rock band that came from a tribe and we were suspicious of people that were good on their instruments. With us everything was about a feeling, with (Rubin) it’s completely different, so with this music it’s a clash of those two worlds, a mad negotiation to figure out how people that don’t speak the same language can figure out common words. It took two years, and when we finally figured it out it came out really, really f***in’ good. It’s a while different level than any record I’ve ever made.”
The Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker anime short will come out along with the album, while the comic book series will roll out “right before Christmas,” according to DeLonge, with the novel out during the spring. He’s also meeting in January with movie studios about a Poet Anderson film and is working on both a conventional AVA tour as well as a stage show built around The Dream Walker story. And, DeLonge adds, “Poet Anderson is just the beginning. What we are launching at the end of next year is jsut as big and completely different, and just as much has gone into it. So there’s a lot of work to do.”
So does blink-182, which DeLonge says is ready to start recording a follow-up to 2011’s “comeback” album Neighborhoods. “I think we found the house we’re going to start recording the next record in,” he says. “That’s a big deal, finding location, for us. That’s usually the biggest obstacle, finding a place everyone can get to.” DeLonge says the trio hopes to start work during “the first week or two of January” and says he and bassist Mark Hoppus “have a little toolbox of things we’ve put together, little riffs and ideas, that are good inspirations for songs. I think the goal on this record is to really craft it together form scratch as much as we can, but it’ll be a good mix of things that are partially planned out and a lot of stuff we just really dig in and create from scratch, with everyone’s influence. Our best records were made that way.”