“Even when I got divorced, there was this thing where people felt like they had to take sides,” he sighs. “But there are no sides. blink-182 is amazing, but it’s monopolising. It takes up so much of your brain space, and a lot of that is celebrating things that you did a long time ago. Angels & Airwaves was never meant to recreate blink’s lightning-in-a-bottle [magic]. It supposed to be just one piece of this larger artistic thing. People don’t need to compare.”
Authentically at peace, Tom reckons that he talks to his ex-bandmates now more than ever, messaging the uber-busy Travis Barker a few times a week while speaking to Mark Hoppus three or four times a day. “We’re like brothers. We’ll get really angry about something due to miscommunication for like a year. We’re dumb men. But then it’s like, ‘My bad, what’s up?’”
Even the revelation of the UAP Task Force, he claims, was just another upwards step taken in stride.
“People ask me now if I feel validated? I say no. I knew the enormity of what I was doing. I also knew that people were going to have a hard time understanding it and believing that I was doing it. But if you were involved with the meetings I was involved with, you wouldn’t give a fuck. I was given this opportunity to change the world. And I know that no-one is really going to be sticking around saying, ‘Tom did that…’ But I know in my heart that I started all of that. I have to put everything into it. Even if I never get the applause, I need my kids – and yours – to grow up in a better place.”
Even after our sprawling chat, it’s hard to know what to make of outsider-music’s one-time clown prince. Coming back to earth, momentarily, as he signs off to go start another day’s work on who-knows-what, however, Tom asks that even if we don’t understand his work, we understand that he’s doing it for the right reasons.
“I’m not motivated by money and fame,” he says. “If I wanted to do things easier, I could. I’m motivated by getting people to feel things and to open their eyes a little bit. Where I’ve ended up makes no sense unless you look at my entire life and all the things I’ve done. I was building businesses, but those businesses were never giant to the point where I was gonna go retire. I was in a band doing really big shit, but I was never really artistically satisfied. I’ve got money but I’m not gonna sit in my living room and do nothing [with it]. I was never just gonna phone it in.”
A wry smile as he prepares to tap the screen goodbye.
“I like what I like. And, when I like something, I jump all the way in. It’s just The Wild Adventures Of Tom…”
Angels & Airwaves' LIFEFORMS is released on September 24 via Rise Records – pre-order your copy now. The band will tour the UK in March 2022.
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