By Jim Schutze
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Back in 2006, Angels & Airwaves released their debut, We Don't Need to Whisper, amidst many bold claims made by singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge. DeLonge, having certified his legend with the pop-punk trio Blink-182, wanted to take his next band to another dimension, saying Angels & Airwaves would unleash a rock revolution with some of the best music in decades.
The hype got people talking. Just not the most positive kind of talk.
But, really, with the mudslinging between DeLonge and his fellow Blink-182 bandmates still going on at the time, their fates were already sealed: Whatever the three released post-Blink seemed bound to become the next Joe Perry Project.
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Only, well, things ended up working out for Angels & Airwaves. Since the debut, the band has released two more spectacular records, I-Empire and LOVE, the latter of which was released earlier this year.
And, even with DeLonge reconciled and performing again with his Blink-182 bandmates, Angels & Airwaves are still soldiering along.
Good thing, too: With their love songs from outer space, the band sounds like they draw inspiration from U2 circa The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree, as well as the Cure circa Disintegration and New Order circa Brotherhood.
In other words: This band has never sounded like Blink-182's bastard child. Perhaps because the four members are neither strangers to playing music nor strangers to one another. Drummer Adam "Atom" Willard spent the 1990s playing with Rocket from the Crypt and had a stint in the Offspring before joining his longtime friend DeLonge in this latest project. Guitarist Dave Kennedy played with DeLonge in Box Car Racer, DeLonge's Blink side project with drummer Travis Barker. Bassist Matt Wachter, meanwhile, joined the fold from 30 Seconds to Mars.
This past February, the band released LOVE as a free, no-strings-attached, download from their website. And the result has been nice.
"These are the biggest shows that we've ever done as this band," drummer Willard says of the band's current tour with Say Anything. "So it's really interesting to see the type of people that are out too. It's not just a certain age group. We've really got a wide age range that are coming out to the shows. Pretty much every section of the population that you can imagine. It's kind of a trip."
Maybe that's because, despite the pop-punk bands Angels & Airwaves are often paired with, their releases are far more than just more stabs at the pop-punk sound.
"It really stems from trying to reorganize your entire approach to how you survive as a band," Willard says. "The music is the most important thing. It's really the only reason why anybody should pay attention to us. So if you can get your music out there to as many people as possible and get it into as many people's minds and hearts, your band is gonna grow exponentially from that."
And you can't call the band unambitious: Part of its future is also a feature-length movie called LOVE. Principal photography is done, but the film is still in the editing phase. With an astronaut stuck on a space station serving as the basis of the story, all of the music is either from the LOVE album or was written specifically for the movie.
"This movie has been bubbling since the beginning of the band," Willard says. "It's definitely been kind of a challenge to really sort out what it is that it's going to be. It has evolved and it's kinda taken a life of its own and really shown us what it needs to be. "
Once complete, the band hopes to put out LOVE as a theatrical release. Of course, nothing is firm just yet.
"Basically, we've tried to partner up with a couple of different studios and everybody just wants to see a finished project," Willard says. "Anybody that has offered us help financially has wanted such a weird percentage or cut of it, it's just like, 'Well, forget it. You know what, we're gonna finish it and then we'll present it to Miramax and this and that.'"
The band's next project is a remix album, or as Willard puts it, a "rework" record after this tour. Even though DeLonge is back with Blink-182, Angels and Airwaves are not going away. "We all have our hearts in it pretty well," Willard says.