Seconds before my interview with Tom DeLonge is due to begin, I’m told: “Don’t mention aliens.” This seems odd, because the former Blink-182 frontman produces and occasionally appears on Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, currently showing on Sky. But aliens and UAPs – the term is unidentified aerial phenomenon these days, despite the show’s title – don’t necessarily go hand or jelly-like tentacle in hand.
DeLonge, you see, is extremely keen to keep himself credible. “People need to buckle up,” he says, “open their minds and stop talking about, you know, aliens and extraterrestrials, because I have a feeling that that’s not exactly what it is.” Aliens! I clock the not-mentioning-aliens score at 1-0 to me.
DeLonge’s journey from cheeky skate-rock frontman to UFO/UAP expert perhaps needs some explanation. Firstly, this isn’t just some fad. “I got deeply involved when I was starting seventh grade,” he says. “Then, after Blink signed to a major label, I used my first cheque to buy a computer specifically to get deeper into researching the subject. It’s really all I’ve ever done outside of music and building a family.”
Unidentified reveals the findings of the Pentagon’s top secret $22m UFO Task Force, which investigated the threat of UAPS around the globe. With DeLonge’s help, military footage of these incidents has now been released into the public domain. While the visual evidence is restricted to grainy radar footage, the scary part is that the pilots, military officials and other eye-witnesses interviewed in Unidentified all give the same story: that of multiple sightings of giant white Tic-Tac-shaped craft moving at speeds and trajectories that seem impossible to man.
Blink-182 formed when DeLonge was introduced to bassist Mark Hoppus at San Diego high school in 1992. Drummer Travis Barker followed after learning a 20-song set list in just 45 minutes, before a show in 1998 when the previous drummer was too drunk to go on. “I remember touring in the van and I’d be reading these books full of government documents and witness accounts,” says DeLonge. “We’re talking pilots, officers – all highly credible individuals that were trained at nuclear missile facilities. I mean, astronauts that walked on the moon were having encounters, you know?” Er, do we?
Blink-182 released six albums before DeLonge quit in 2015, to be replaced with Alkaline Trio vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba. DeLonge formed aerospace-science-entertainment company To the Stars, with which he promised to probe deeper into the government cover-up of UAPs. Which poses the question: did people think he’d gone completely hatstand?
“People were tripping on me for sure,” he says. “If an actor had done what I’ve done, it’d be less weird, because you don’t really know who actors are. That’s kind of their game plan. But with musicians, you want to dress like them, or listen to other bands like them. Rock’n’roll has a tradition of being genuine and authentic.”
DeLonge comes across as 99% enthusiast/expert and 1% eccentric. He can’t answer some of my questions (“What’s the most convincing piece of evidence you’ve seen as to the existence of aliens?”) due to “national security issues”. But he clearly knows something, or thinks he knows something. But what level of government cover-up are we talking about? Are aliens (2-1 to him by now) really living among us like in Men in Black?
“No, not at all,” says DeLonge. “It’s not conspiratorial. Anybody can go on to the CIA website and read thousands of reports. There’s just a vacuum of conversation. Our government has had decades of the very difficult burden of dealing with something that is extremely advanced but poorly understood. They need time to dig into this, to understand it, to gather data and analyse it.”