Tom DeLonge is a lot of things—founding member of Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves, new-media entrepreneur, family man—but lazy isn’t one of them. Case in point is DeLonge’s latest endeavor, a self-financed “transmedia” project, Sekret Machines, that will include new music, fiction and nonfiction and a documentary. All of it focuses on the UFO phenomenon, a topic he has been obsessed with for over 20 years. But this isn’t another account by an Area 51-obsessed weekender, and DeLonge went deep in order to prove that he had the expertise to bring this story to light. The first book in the series, Chasing Shadows, a 704-page opus cowritten by New York Times best-selling author A.J. Hartley, is based on actual meetings DeLonge had with executives at the Department of Defense and leaders at NASA.
How serious is DeLonge about all of this? Well, he turned down the chance to tour and record with Blink-182 in order to make this project into a reality. DeLonge claims that the Department of Defense has been in contact with aliens for years. More important, he believes that, once the true nature of our place in the universe comes to light, it could not only change the way we think of religion and science but also unite the world on a very human level, overriding nationality and belief systems. Apparently, a guy who got famous for his fluency in power cords and dick jokes has become the Department of Defense’s tattooed advocate of choice—the one to deliver its shattering discoveries to the people.
We spoke with DeLonge about how he ended up meeting with government officials, why this project took precedence over this old band and why one advisor told him never to get into a car with a stranger.
How did the idea for a transmedia project on the UFO phenomenon come together?
I built companies for a really long time. One of the companies was a technology platform called Modlife that allowed the monetization of different forms of media, so I knew that transmedia storytelling was where the arts were going. Another company I created, To the Stars, is doing just that: We are actively creating four different franchises that are transmedia devices to put up stories with large themes I care about. And the opus, the holy grail, is to do something with the UFO phenomenon—to show it in all of its dread and glory. When most people think about UFOs they think of little green men, flying saucers and the tinfoil hat crowd. What they don’t think about is things that scientists and engineers are working on—technological breakthroughs we’re doing underground out in Nevada, machinery that would seem like magic to most people. Basically it’s a secret space program that is infinitely larger, more complex and more exciting than anything we’ve seen with Apollo.
But why would these intelligence agencies be cool with you publicizing what must be highly guarded secrets?
They weren’t just cool with it; I had a reason. My pitch is very specific. I went in there being very respectful and formal, saying, “yes sir” and “no sir.” [laughs] Then I told them my belief system on the UFO phenomenon and they realized that it’s academic in its thoughts and its presentation, and that I was talking about these things with knowledge that most people don’t readily have about UFOs. They were able to see that I actually knew what I was talking about and I was being respectful about it and I had a voice that they didn’t have. When I say “voice,” I mean I had a perspective on telling people these things that I don’t think they have the ability to do, and over a period of time I executed and they kept giving me a longer and longer leash until the floodgates just started pouring open.
Do you feel like people who believe in the UFO phenomenon still face a stigma as far as being portrayed as crazy conspiracy theorists?
I definitely think anything that challenges current belief systems will come off as crazy. It doesn’t matter if you’re Galileo and you were out there telling people that universe does not spin around the earth—he was on house arrest for a long part of his life. I’m sure there were plenty of people that thought that whoever sailed too far east was going to fall off the flat earth. It’s the same thing here.
How many of these ideas and the sources behind them directly make their way into the new book?
We have a documentary series launching shortly that will tell how I met these people. I mean, no one is ever going to know who they are by name, but [it will include] what kind of positions they hold and how the information was passed to me and what the ramifications of that information are. The way it worked is I would fly out, or we would do a series of different types of communications, and I would pose things that I needed to know and then it would come back to me in these huge amounts of info that I would sometimes have to read 10 or 15 times to understand—and then I would send that to A.J. and we would be continuously be updating and changing the storyline. When the book was finished I would send it off to get edited by a few of these men and women, and things would pop back that I would not know.
Can you give an example of what you learned in the process?
One of the characters in the story learns how to fly an aerospace craft that really exists, featuring a very specific type of technology that would give the ability to fly in and out of earth’s atmosphere at 10, 20, 30,000 miles per hour. I’ve done a lot of research in that area and I knew there’s been some breakthroughs with that particular type of technology, but when I got the notes back about what to change, I was told many things [I didn’t know]. Specifically that we have conquered gravity long ago and we have true antigravity and we’re using it. That’s in the book.
I’m sure it would have been much easier to tour and make music than undertake a project like this. Was it a hard decision to dedicate so much of yourself to Sekret Machines?
No. I mean, it’s so exciting to be able to show people why I’m so obsessed with this stuff. I can tell them things that might change belief systems they’ve had their whole lives about religion, science and technology. That to me is the most exciting aspect of what we’ve accomplished in dealing with the UFO phenomenon, because a major part of this is teaching people what the phenomenon is, what it’s doing and the heroic efforts that we’ve done in complete secrecy. [The people who work on this technology] don’t get credit for incredible breakthroughs and enormous risks they take to create something that can serve as a defense, not only to our own country, but to all the countries on the globe. The United States has done some incredible stuff in that regard and to let people see how incredibly wondrous it is…it’s like magic, the machinery they created. I think people will start to come out of it with more open eyes.
Did you feel a responsibility to bring these issues to the forefront?
I feel like I have a responsibility to get people to think a little bit differently. What I came to you and said, “The churches you’ve gone to and the taxes that you’ve paid are funding the war that is really going on: The unification of opposing cultures together against one existential threat.” All of these different things that can happen—like I said, the technological breakthroughs that can change the world forever. Forever! Would it matter to you? Would that matter to you that there’s something out there that encompasses a whole host of things that can change the world with the snap of a finger? It’s stuff that’s already happened, stuff that’s already in existence, and that’s why I feel a responsibility to tell people about it. But I’m not going to do it without asking for permission. And I’m not going to get myself hurt over it.
A new Angels & Airwaves EP just came out too. Does that feed into this?
This project is infinitely bigger than Angels & Airwaves. Doing music alongside the project is just a way to galvanize more attention for it from fan bases that already exist. But this is not an Angels & Airwaves project. This is just to point more flashlights in that direction.
Do you feel like you have to prove yourself in order to reconcile this project with your musical personality?
I think people have a chance to laugh it off: “Here’s this guy from a rock band who’s known for being a rebellious teenager and doing a lot of kind of funny shit.” And then all of the sudden I’m telling stories like this and you kind of go, “Those two pieces don’t connect in my mind.” Well, it did happen, and those conversations are are [still] happening and I’m dealing with material that’s that dangerous. I spent a year and half to ask for permission because I wasn’t going to go out and just say things that I wasn’t supposed to say. On one hand, people think the UFO issue is a bunch of crazies, but for the people who deal with this stuff it’s the most dangerous, secretive and important issues we’re dealing with within the Department of Defense.
Did you ever think you were in danger when it came to publicizing these secrets?
Yes, a couple of times. [pause] I called up a high-ranking military officer and had to ask him about four or five weeks ago if I was okay doing what I was doing. The answer was “I think so” and he went off on certain things that I shouldn’t be doing and I’m not looking to do. It was interesting. It wasn’t just like, “Aw, you’re fine.” I had another person, a very high-ranking military industrial complex special access programs engineer, call me up on a video conference and say, “If anyone ever comes to you and asks you to get in the car, don’t get in the car.” I laughed it off, and he replied, “Tom, I’m being very, very serious. If anyone asks you to go for a ride, don’t get in the fucking car.” He’s pointing at me through the video conference, and I was like, “Whoa, man, I hear you loud and clear. I won’t.” He said, “I had to make calls about you and I’m being serious. Listen to what I’m telling you right now. You’re fucking around with some serious shit.”
Do you feel like you had to stop doing Blink to dedicate yourself to this, or do you feel like you could have done both?
I think there’s always time to do the band I love. I love Blink. Blink’s given me everything—even meeting these people. They met me because of who I was; they didn’t know what I was bringing them or what I wanted to talk to them about. The band has afforded me an identity that a lot of people feel attached to in one way or another. I’ve always been able to keep a lot of balls in the air and bounce from one project to another. I think I sometimes find myself doing a lot more than I intended, you know? [laughs] The problem is a year and a half ago—or less than that—when we were in a big downtime and I was getting the company off the ground and we started doing all these things that we were talking about, I was presented with a working order [from Blink-182] that I couldn’t do in the way it was in the contract. I was already in a bunch of contracts and and deep into these projects, and I couldn’t be in breach of all this stuff, so I had to find a new way to do it all. I don’t think everyone saw eye to eye on that process. My intentions were never to not do Blink-182. I love that band. It’s a big part of who I am.
Finally, what do your friends and family think of this obsession of yours?
I think my friends are always fascinated by it and they’ve been around me long enough to know that there’s truth to this. It’s just as hard for them to digest as most but none of them laugh it off anymore. Over the years a lot them have said, “Wow, this is really fascinating; you’ve really changed my mind on the subject.” My wife has honestly always been supportive. She thinks I’m nuts and most of my friends think I’m nuts but she knows this is very real and she knows I’m doing things that are very important. My wife, like some of my friends, represents very grounded, rational-thinking people—so they work as great case studies.