Angels & Airwaves


Their tunes always have come freighted with a cinematic heft: all sweeping melodrama, epic movements, the kinetic bustle of a dozen things happening at once, an infatuation with the larger than life synonymous with summers at the multiplex and giant tubs of popcorn.

And so perhaps it was only a matter of time before the dudes in wide-eyed rock troupe Angels & Airwaves got around to making a film of their own.

The band, fronted by Blink-182 singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge, bear hugs weighty themes -- mortality, uncertainty, emotional detachment -- with equally outsized sonics in the form of soaring, whooshing synth lines, ringing, clarion call guitars, processed, pleading vocals and a surfeit of pulsating electronics, coming off kind of like a sci-fi-obsessed, punk-derived U2.

It's rock 'n' roll as emitted from the monolith in "2001."

Call it "Close Encounters of the Emo Kind."

And with its third LP, "Love," which the band released for free early this year, Angels & Airwaves has come closer to finalizing the album's celluloid corollary, which also bears the same name.

"The main idea was born from wanting to control the environment in which people experience our music for the first time," drummer Atom Willard says of the film. "If we could sit you in a movie theater, completely desensitize you from everything else, you're in a dark room and sound is everywhere around you and you have to focus on this screen, what would we show to accompany this music that we love so much? How would we group it with images or emotions or feelings?

"That's really what it was about," he continues, "having people be captive, the way you are at a movie, and take you in another, uh, dimension? I don't know. That sounds pretty 'Star Trek'-y," he chuckles.

For sure, it does, but in this way, it dovetails nicely with this band's far-out ambitions.

Over the course of three records, Angels & Airwaves has never shied away from grandeur, as the band's defining trait is indulging in just about any and all artistic whimsy with longer songs that frequently stretch past the six-minute mark and often feature searching, existentialist lyrics.

"Nobody's right, nobody's wrong," DeLonge sings at one point on "Love." "Life's just a game, an epic holiday."

And this sense of infinite possibility continues with the band's forthcoming movie, which they hope to have completed by the end of summer, and which only loosely adheres to the tenets of linear filmmaking.

"The premise of the movie is a guy trapped in space, on a space station, with no outside communication," Willard explains. "Then, as he's in space, doing nothing, it goes through different vignettes of people on Earth and how completely different lives somehow suddenly become so closely connected, how we're all basically connected, and what we do affects everybody else, in one small way or another.

"Basically, what we came up with was, 'What would be the ultimate deprivation chamber where somebody had to rely on their imagination, with nothing new coming in,' " he continues, "because that's kind of what writing music is all about: It's creating something out of nothing."

The group is still trying to figure out how to release the film -- they might enter it in Sundance, and Willard says that he'd like to tour with the movie in select cities, with Angels & Airwaves performing live as it's projected on a screen above them.

It's a somewhat novel concept from a band trying to push against the traditional bounds of the music industry.

As noted earlier, Angels & Airwaves made its latest disc available for download at no charge at http://modlife.com/angelsandairwaves, which bands such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have done before, but for this bigger-is-always-better bunch, it's an attempt to find new ways around an old business model.

"Ninety percent of the music population, they're not selling records," Willard says. "So, we've been striving to find a way that we can monetize and change our way of doing business. We've got a subscription-based website, we do special things on tour where we can try and supplement different aspects of our business, but ultimately, we figured that if we can get our music to as many people as possible, get it in as many peoples' heads and hearts as we possibly could, then ultimately that's going to be the greatest thing for the band.

"People are going to come to the shows and hopefully be there for the right reasons, not because we have one song on the radio. That's really the goal, just to make music that people love the music for their reasons, and they're not there because MTV told them to be. It's all because they believe in something bigger."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

 

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