While people don’t always understand Tom DeLonge — namely his interest in UFOs, quantum consciousness and other paranormal phenomena — the rocker assures, “They will understand why I did this stuff later. Everything I do is connected.”
Since starting his career as the co-lead vocalist/guitarist of Blink 182 (who placed seven albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200), DeLonge co-founded Boxcar Racer in 2001 and Angels & Airwaves in 2005 — the latter alongside Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails), David Kennedy (Box Car Racer), and Matt Rubano (Taking Back Sunday).
The high-art rock band released its sixth album, Lifeforms, on Friday (Sept. 24) on Rise Records, which delves into everything from the intersection of science and religion (“Restless Souls”) to the quest for intelligent lifeforms in the universe (“Lifeforms”). Next year, DeLonge will make his directorial debut with the release of a new sci-fi film, Monsters of California, as a companion piece to the album.
However, the album and film are secondary to DeLonge’s chief priority: his research and media center, To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, which he founded in 2017 and whose board includes former intelligence officials from the Pentagon, C.I.A., and Department of Defense.
TTSA’s mission is to collect and study anomalous data related to unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) and develop technologies related to the findings, including their S.C.O.U.T. and V.A.U.L.T. mobile apps which allow users to submit evidence and data related to UFO sightings directly into a global database to help analyze patterns. Through his TTSA organization, DeLonge also produces content in film/television, publishing, music, art, and merchandise, with past partners including the History channel, A&E and Simon & Schuster.
Now, as DeLonge continues to gain credibility in the space, his work with TTSA continues to inspire his music. Following the release of Lifeforms, here’s what he geeked out on while writing and recording the album.
To create “the most diverse record” of his career, DeLonge infused his early love of new wave into Lifeforms. He was influenced by acts including New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees — which were his “jam” before he got into punk music. “I would be mowing the lawn to those records, [Depeche Mode’s] ‘Blasphemous Rumors’ and s–t,” he says. “These acts were basically punk bands if they learned to play music on Casio keyboards instead of guitars.” New wave music was also more “earnest,” and reminded him of Blink-182’s early output, when they were “trying to get by on our instruments,” he jokes.
The Physics of Reality
“I’m on a big path to teach people things that used to be pretty esoteric, dealing with unidentified aerial objects (UAOs) and consciousness and why the government views these things in a certain way and so on,” he says. As a result, he chose the album’s title, Lifeforms, since it’s both a study on the human condition and human relationships, as well as paranormal phenomena and how humans relate to the greater universe of space. “When you think of life forms, you have to start thinking outside of us, outside of consciousness and outside of physics as we know it,” he says. “If space is infinite, then there’s infinite potential. If there’s no end, then there’s no end to what’s happening — and that relates to dreams. It’s all contained in this abyss.”
As a filmmaker, DeLonge’s credits include co-directing the 2014 animated short Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, and producing the 2011 film LOVE. He will make his directorial debut with the sci-fi film, Monsters of California, set for release later this year and described as “an R-rated version of old Spielberg — but full of d–k jokes.” He enjoys working in the medium as he’s able to blend “human performance, sound design, pacing, lighting, and camera movement,” to create something that captivates viewers from “six different senses,” he says.
Plus, he adds, coming back to the album after finishing the movie helped him revisit song arrangements in a new light. “I had an entirely different view on the concept I was trying to build and design here. [The film] made me rethink everything I was doing the past three years.”
While writing Lifeforms, DeLonge went down a new rabbit hole of exploration: the conspiracy of Bigfoot. “Anthropologists have collected thousands of DNA samples on petroglyphs,” he says. “The Hopi Native American tribe have a whole legend about it — yeti, sasquatch, Bigfoot, the Abominable snowman. It’s on every continent and has been around for thousands of years.” The musician realized that different conspiracy theories — including “ghosts, bigfoot, f–king orbs of light, UFOs,” he says — all relate to each other.
On album track “Losing My Mind,” DeLonge sings, “I live on the edge I must be losing my mind / Get out of my head, it’s now the scene of a crime … I said we’re not alone, and / the government knows it.” Meanwhile, Monsters of California will feature a seven-foot-tall mechanical puppet of Bigfoot, designed by the animatronics team behind the Star Wars franchise.
Ancient Religious Texts
While still in high school, DeLonge was part of a cadet training program to become a firefighter. “One of the earliest things I learned is that when you spray water at a fire you don’t spray it at the flame, but at whatever is fueling it,” he says. “Then I looked at the world — and over thousands of years, the root of the flame is our belief systems and religion.”
While recording Lifeforms, DeLonge delved into ancient religious texts – including the Book of Enoch and the Dead Sea scrolls — to track overarching patterns in the stories and lessons passed down by different religions. “Every interaction people are having to this day is written in all of the ancient religions, it’s all the same shit,” he says. His research helped him “get in the door” with the Pentagon and other government agencies, with DeLonge saying: “You don’t get in by saying ‘aliens are coming from another planet!’ You [first] get the government to admit it, [then ask] who is going to pick up the torch and explain it?”