The title of your new album, ANDRO, is a Greek word meaning male or man. You’re part Greek on your mother’s side – how was that part of your heritage brought to life when you were growing up?
“I fucking love my Greek heritage, the people and the food, so I try to get back to Greece as often as possible. I was there last summer, in fact. My mom was my big connection with the country, and we’d speak Greek together, but she’s gone now so I don’t have that exact connection anymore.”
What traits do you think you have from your late mother?
“I’d say her inquisitiveness… (Tommy hesitates for some time, unsure of how to elaborate) When my mom and dad got married, neither one of them spoke the other’s language. I mention this because those circumstances were challenging, with the two of them sat around dictionaries looking for translations drawing pictures to communicate with one another, but her spirit and passion made that work.”
And what of your father? He was a military man, but not the disciplinarian some might expect given his career…
“He was a super-serious military type but I can’t say he was a disciplinarian when I was growing up. He’d be stern but not like a drill sergeant. He was a great father.”
The Dirt – the book and the film – illustrated how much your parents supported you with your fledgling music career. What, then, did you have to rebel against?
“Fuck… I’m not sure I know how to answer that one. I’m stoked that the movie showed the close relationship between my parents, which was so crucial, and how behind me they were when I started getting serious about music. My dad was a fucking maniac with that stuff… we’d be in the backyard at home, with neighbours on both sides, and he’d be building a full pyrotechnic show for my shitty band from high school. I remember him pouring gunpowder into pipes, connecting wires and testing the explosions. I think I was a fun little project for my dad because he was a mechanic. He built us a full lighting rig, too.”
Machine Gun Kelly’s performance as you was pretty uncanny. What was the main note or piece of advice you gave him for the role?
“You know, it’s funny, I didn’t really tell him anything. I knew he was going to nail it because I’ve never seen someone with such a level of dedication to a project. I’d known him for a couple of years and he called me up saying, ‘Dude, you’re not going to fucking believe this… I’m fucking playing you!’ He had the script and he came straight over, wanting to go through everything line by line. Then the motherfucker went out and took four months of drum lessons, learning exactly how I twirled the sticks and bounced them off the snare. He nailed it. It was wild.”
What was hardest or weirdest thing for you to see in the film?
“I don’t think there was a moment like that. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t really have regrets. I believe that everything that happens to us has been put there for us to either learn or not learn a lesson. I was just struck by the fact the film was made, telling the story of these four guys who went on an incredible journey. That in itself was so amazing.”