Angels & Airwaves (AVA)
When a famous musician plays with unknowns its called a side project. But when a well-known artist gets with musicians of equal or greater stature it's a supergroup. Record label marketing people love supergroups. They are easy to sell and the buzz just about creates itself. Problem is, expectations are rarely met because the hype is so out of control. Also, established musicians have been through the drill. They aren't about to take a backseat to anybody which usually leads a supergroup to implode after a brief stint.
So why bother? Well, if your thirtieth birthday is approaching and the group that made you famous - in this case Blink-182 - is out in the ozone on "hiatus" what do you do? Go get that MBA, sell real estate or maybe go into politics? Nope. You go with what you know. That's what Tom DeLonge did when he formed Angels & Airwaves.
DeLonge came by his imposing credentials honestly. Few bands in the late '90s/early '00s were on a par with Blink-182. They were huge and influential. DeLonge's guitar and vocals were a major reason. His first post-Blink 182 move came when he and Blink drummer Travis Barker launched the short-lived Box Car Racer with David Kennedy, whose rhythm guitar playing must have struck the right chord because he was invited to join Angels & Airwaves. Ryan Sinn and Atom Willard, both with impressive resumes, completed the line-up. In '06, the group issued their debut effort, "We Don't Need To Whisper."
The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200, and went gold in both the US and Canada, earning mixed reviews.
Sinn left the band the following year and was replaced by Matt Wachter (who, in addition to bass, played keyboards). Also that year, the group gave an acoustic show. During the performance, four songs from their upcoming album, "I-Empire," were played using Willard's iPod. Of course, an audience member was video-taping the concert and those tracks were leaked online, available to all. It can be viewed as thievery or inadvertent marketing. Either way, "I-Empire," with the lead single, "Everything's Magic" made its official debut in November, '07.
The documentary Start The Machine focused on the break-up of Blink-182, the launch of Angels & Airwaves, and the making of "We Don't Need To Whisper." Three years in the making, the film premiered in '08.
That same year, Angels & Airwaves were featured on the Warped Tour before hitting the road again filling the opening slot for Weezer. The band took a break from touring in '09, though two band members didn't. DeLonge recorded and performed with a reunited Blink-182 while Willard joined Social Distortion for their summer jaunt.
DeLonge and Willard returned to work on the group's third album, which also served as the score for Love, a science fiction film, produced by the group. "Love" (the album) was available for free download on Valentine's Day '10 while the film made its world premiere at the 26th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in '11. Five months later it was screened in 460 theaters across the U.S.
The film portrayed the "personal-psychological effects of isolation and loneliness when an astronaut becomes stranded in space" and "emphasizes the importance of human connection and love.
As Angels & Airwaves were recording their follow-up to "Love" - the creatively titled "Love II" - there came the announcement, via Facebook, that Willard had left. In Willard's place the group selected Ilan Rubin, best known for his work with Lostprophets and Nine Inch Nails. That happened just a couple months before "Love II," featuring the single "Anxiety," dropped.
The EP "Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal" saw a limited release in '12.
With the Blink-182 reunion well underway not much happened on the Angels & Airwaves front until '14 when DeLonge announced the pending release of the group's fifth album. While stating that his melodic sensibilities and his songwriting remained unchanged he added that "arrangements, chord progressions and tonalities have all changed radically."
Shortly after that announcement, Wachter left to spend more time with his family. Eddie Breckenridge (formerly of the post-hardcore band Thrice) stepped in.
An animated short called Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, supported "The Dream Walker," which debuted at #39 on the Billboard 200.
The "Of Nightmares" EP, with the song "Into The Night," was a tie-in with Poet Anderson... Of Nightmares, a novel DeLonge co-wrote with fiction author Suzanne Young.
2006 We Don't Need To Whisper
2011 Love: Part Two
2012 Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal EP
2014 The Dream Walker
2015 Of Nightmares EP
To DeLonge's credit Box Car Racer was not a rehash of Blink-182. Nor is Angels & Airwaves a reworking of Box Car Racer (or Blink-182). Unfortunately, each successive group has yielded diminishing results.
Blink-182's self-titled '03 album marked a course change. In danger of having their audience outgrow them, the group decided to take a more mature approach. Bad move. Fans left in droves anyway and critics, who skewered the band in the past, now had good reason.
DeLonge's post-Blink career seems intent on reshaping that '03 Blink album (or at least the concept) into an artistic and commercial success.