Tom DeLonge, former singer-guitarist of the seminal pop-punk band Blink-182, wrote the soundtrack for the lives of rebellious teens around the world. And as any Blink fan knows, DeLonge's enthusiasm for space often spilled into his songwriting, with titles like "Aliens Exist," "The Flight of Apollo" and "Valkyrie Missile."
He's also deeply interested in UFO phenomena, and he's not too shy to talk about it.
After a somewhat messy Blink-182 breakup last year, DeLonge is launching a multimedia franchise called Sekret Machines that will seek to investigate "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" from a serious perspective. The franchise will include fiction books, nonfiction books, new music from DeLonge's band Angels & Airwaves and a documentary.
The first part of the series, a book called Sekret Machines Book 1: Chasing Shadows, is already out. Called a "work of ... fiction?" — clearly, a book like this is hard to verify — DeLonge taps alleged sources "within the military and intelligence community" to tell stories about UFO sightings and other paranormal contact.
We spoke to DeLonge about his new project, his music, outer space and why, after all these years, he's still obsessed with UFOs.
Mic: How did you first get interested in this kind of thing — the possibility of aliens and UFOs?
Tom DeLonge: First of all, we don't really call it "aliens." In pop culture, that's a term people throw out there, and rightfully so because the government spends a lot of time and a lot of money throwing that term out there. But it's much more complex than that.
I first got into it in junior high. I don't know why. I just had some free time on my hands and I found myself at the school library looking for books on the subject matter. [In] the beginnings of my career with [Blink-182], you have a lot of free time in the van, traveling across the country for 12 months, so I found myself getting a lot of really interesting books that challenged the way I thought about stuff.
Scientists in places like the SETI institute are taking the possibility of alien life seriously. But they have a different way of talking about this stuff.
TD: Yeah, they are, and they have their own way of doing things. I think there's been a policy to find microbial life far out somewhere else, then start the conversation about life in the universe and how it could form, how far it can advance itself and could they ever come here. Maybe they sent drones here. I'm starting with the idea there's been something else here all along.
There are two sides to looking for other forms of life. There's one that's looking at the interaction with humanity over a very long period of time. But there's also advancing the idea that there was life or forms of life on Mars, on Europa, and even farther out — on exoplanets that look very much like Earth.
So where did you get the idea for Sekret Machines?
TD: It's something I've always wanted to do. I've always had a passion for space and the future. But when you dive into this type of material, it's a lot more than just science and technology. It has to do with religion and cosmology and it has to do with politics and secrecy. So it's a pretty fantastic ride when you start studying this stuff. You'll find yourself trying to challenge your belief system. This project was a good way to bring it to the world in a more elevated way.
We got a press release that says you decided not to tour with Blink-182 in favor of working on this. What was the decision that went into that?
TD: Well it's not so much about Blink. It's about what I'm doing with my life now. When you're an individual like me, dealing with something that's a national security issue, and you're being gifted with the opportunity to communicate something you've been passionate about your whole life — something that has the opportunity to change the world over time — being a small part of that is enormously important for my life path.
But I can't do everything. I can't tour nine months out of the year with enough time to do the enormity of what I'm setting out to do.
OK I have to ask: How many people have made a joke about your "Aliens Exist" song in relation to this project?
TD: [Laughs] Yeah, isn't that the weirdest thing? It's weird that people remember that song. It's, like, an eighth album track from, like, 20 years ago [1999's Enema of the State].
The very last line of that song references this urban legend in UFO folklore called Majestic 12, these documents that got leaked in the '80s that described an entire organization of top-level scientists, military people and intelligence officials that manage the information of this phenomenon. I put the name in that song, and the irony now is that I'm dealing with people from the modern version of whatever that group is called. It's a big deal.
I want to know what you think about all these commercial space companies and NASA and their push to colonize Mars. Do you think thats a worthwhile goal for us?
TD: Oh yeah, absolutely.
I actually have another idea that I would love to put out into the atmosphere of ideas. There's a conversation to be had about a new space program that's part exploration and part defense. There's a way to get everybody excited about something much grander and more important than a sanitized version of NASA, or the super-secret program of what the military knows about. That's where the real space program is. I think if there's a way to get the two together, it would be great and everyone would support that. It would be much bigger than what the Apollo program did for the country and for the world.
If you could pick anywhere in the solar system to visit, where would you want to go?
Totally. I agree.
TD: Yeah, I think that's an important place. Or Phobos — a moon of Mars that has a lot of interesting qualities about it, too.
Do you think that we've made contact?
TD: I think that contact is kind of a vague description of a lot of things. I think there has been [alien] hardware, and whether by design or by accident, it's fallen in multiple countries.
What's the best evidence we have that all this is real?
TD: I don't think I'm going to be the person that offers the best evidence unless people really trust what I'm doing and believe me. There's been hundreds and hundreds of thousands of eyewitness accounts. Trace evidence that's been analyzed by scientists across the world. Events have happened on the ground. It's all around us. I know of stuff I can't talk about right now.
What do you want the takeaway to be from Sekret Machines?
TD: My goal is to have a conversation within reality, that's very grounded. Novels and films and documentaries — it's a very good way to get people to understand how it could really exist and what the ramifications are. The whole UFO phenomenon is different than what people think it is.
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.