DeLonge in 2008.
|Birth name||Thomas Matthew Delonge Jr.|
|Born||December 13, 1975|
|Origin||Poway, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop punk, punk rock, alternative rock, post-hardcore, space rock, neo-prog, skate punk|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer, film producer, children's author|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, bass, trumpet, piano|
|Labels||To the Stars, DGC, Interscope, Geffen, Suretone, MCA, Grilled Cheese, Cargo Music, Kung Fu|
|Associated acts||Blink-182, Angels & Airwaves, Box Car Racer|
|Gibson Tom DeLonge Signature ES-333
Fender Tom DeLonge Stratocaster
Gibson Les Paul, Gibson ES-335
Thomas Matthew "Tom" DeLonge, Jr. (born December 13, 1975) is an American musician, author, and entrepreneur. He is the guitarist and one of the two lead vocalists for the American alternative band Blink-182 as well as the guitarist and lead vocalist for the alternative band Angels & Airwaves. He was also the guitarist and lead vocalist for the alternative band Box Car Racer. Raised in Poway, California, DeLonge developed an interest in punk rock during his teens. After being expelled from Poway High School for drinking at a basketball game, he attended Rancho Bernardo High School where he met Anne Hoppus. She introduced him to her brother, Mark Hoppus, who also shared an interest in music. DeLonge introduced his friend Scott Raynor to Hoppus.
The three formed Blink-182 which went on to become one of the most popular pop punk groups of the 1990s–2000s. Travis Barker replaced Raynor in later years due to his excessive drinking. The group underwent an indefinite hiatus in 2005, leading to the formation of Angels & Airwaves, and Hoppus and Barker's band +44, in the same year. Blink-182 reformed in 2009, and released a new album in September 2011. Angels & Airwaves has continued to record new albums and tour. DeLonge has also pursued non-musical endeavors; he created a social networking website called Modlife, as well as two clothing companies. In 2001, he started Atticus Clothing and Macbeth Footwear with Mark Hoppus. DeLonge sold his shares in Atticus Clothing, and is currently the sole owner of Macbeth Footwear.
Early life and education
DeLonge was raised by his mother, Connie, and his father, Thomas Sr., in Poway, California. He has an older brother, Shon, and a younger sister, Kari. His first musical instrument was the trumpet, which his parents gave to him for Christmas when he was eleven. DeLonge was an average student in school, saying that "I knew exactly how hard I had to work in school. As long as I got that C, I wouldn't try one minute extra to get a B. I just cared about skateboarding and music ." He played guitar for the first time at his friend's house and proceeded to work 3 jobs to buy a Fender guitar. DeLonge spent much of his time trying to learn songs by Descendents. One of DeLonge's first musical endeavors was Big Oily Men, a band of which he was the only constant member.
Despite his early interest in music, becoming a musician was not his first calling. DeLonge originally planned to become a firefighter, and participated in the San Diego Cadet Program. DeLonge was Homecoming King of his high school. His parents divorced when he was eighteen, which would later become the inspiration for the Blink-182 song "Stay Together for the Kids". DeLonge was kicked out of Poway High School during his junior year (1991) after being caught drunk at a school basketball game. He then attended Rancho Bernardo High School for the remainder of his high school year. The song "Dick Lips" was based on him getting kicked out of school, and was also referenced in the Angels and Airwaves song "Rite of Spring". When he returned to Poway High School during his senior year, the students voted him Homecoming King despite the fact that he was not even on the ballot. DeLonge graduated from high school in 1993.
When he began attending Rancho Bernardo High School in early 1992, he befriended Kerry Key, also interested in punk music. Key's girlfriend, Anne Hoppus, introduced her brother Mark Hoppus to DeLonge in August 1992. The two clicked instantly and played for hours in DeLonge's garage, exchanging lyrics and co-writing songs—one of which became crowd favorite "Carousel." DeLonge recruited friend Scott Raynor for drums, who he met at a Rancho Bernado Battle of the Bands competition. The band was initially named Duck Tape until DeLonge thought of the name "Blink". The band's first demo tape, Flyswatter—a combination of original songs and punk covers—was recorded in Raynor's bedroom and landed the band their first shows. DeLonge called clubs constantly in San Diego asking for a spot to play, as well as calling up local high schools convincing them that Blink was a "motivational band with a strong anti-drug message" in hopes to play at an assembly or lunch.
The trio, which recorded three demos over 1993, longed to headline SOMA, a local all-ages venue. Their irreverent live show alerted local independent record label Cargo Music, who signed the band on a trial basis (Hoppus was the only member to sign the contract, as DeLonge was at work at the time and Raynor was still a minor). The result, Cheshire Cat—named after DeLonge's favorite character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland—was a strong seller for the independent band, and would eventually come to be regarded as an iconic release in the skate punk scene. By 1995, the trio was embarking on their first national tour, which extended as far as the East Coast. The band purchased their own tour van and embarked on the GoodTimes tour with Unwritten Law, Sprung Monkey and 7 Seconds.
MCA Records would sign the band in 1996 and co-distribute the band's sophomore effort, Dude Ranch, which was released in 1997. "Dammit" became a modern rock radio hit and the record shipped gold the following year. The exhaustive touring schedule brought tensions among the trio, and Raynor was fired under alcohol abuse because he refused to go to rehab. With new drummer Travis Barker behind the kit, the trio recorded major-label debut Enema of the State with producer Jerry Finn, which catapulted the trio to stardom, becoming the biggest pop punk act of the era. Three singles were released from the record — "What's My Age Again?", "All the Small Things", and "Adam's Song" — that crossed over into Top 40 radio format and experienced major commercial success. The anticipated follow-up, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001), produced similar results but left DeLonge feeling "bummed out" in the studio, desperate to experiment with darker ideas he deemed unsuitable for the band.
The result, Box Car Racer, marked a change in tone in DeLonge's musical evolution and saw him team with Barker and Hazen Street guitarist David Kennedy to create a post-hardcore sound recalling his influences. The recording process was marked by DeLonge's chronic back pain, the result of herniated disc. The side project would cause great division between DeLonge and Hoppus, who was not included and felt betrayed. The moody subject matter and music on Box Car Racer edged its way into the Blink sound as well, and the band explored experimentalist on their next effort, an eponymous fifth studio album (2003).
By late 2004, tensions in the trio led to a break-up, dubbed an "indefinite hiatus," announced in February 2005. DeLonge desired to work only at his San Diego home on another Blink-182 album and record his contributions there, and Hoppus and Barker disagreed. He requested a six-month break from touring and the band was forced to cancel a North American tour in the spring. DeLonge would spend the next few months away from the public eye, making no appearances, granting no interviews and remaining silent. DeLonge redefined himself musically during this time, learning to play piano and self-produce, and forming his own home studio. In September 2005, he announced his new project, Angels & Airwaves, promising "the greatest rock and roll revolution for this generation." His statements—which included the predictions that the album would usher in an "entire new culture of the youth," that would lead to him "conquering the globe"—were regarded as highly grandiose in the press and mocked.
In reality, DeLonge was addicted to Vicodin due to his back problem, which fueled his ambitious beliefs. He quit Vicodin cold turkey when he was unable to get it for a week, hallucinating and deep in withdrawal. Angels & Airwaves' first release, the space rock-tinged We Don't Need to Whisper, was released in 2006 and went gold in the United States. The band's second record, I-Empire, followed in 2007. DeLonge came to regard Angels & Airwaves as "an art project [that approaches] larger human themes and tackles them in different mediums."
Blink-182 reunited in 2009 after a plane crash involving Barker that left he and DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) the only survivors. The trio announced a reunion tour and a new album, which would undergo numerous delays. During this time, DeLonge juggled producing two new Angels & Airwaves albums (Love and Love: Part Two) and a science fiction film they accompany, Love. The recording process for Neighborhoods, the sixth Blink-182 album, found the band struggling to communicate and record. DeLonge's idea to record in separate studios led to loss of unity within the band. In addition, DeLonge was diagnosed with skin cancer, which was cleared. Neighborhoods and Love were eventually released in the fall of 2011.
Early on his career, DeLonge is known to use Fender Stratocasters with a DiMarzio X2Ns in the bridge position which was covered in stickers with the Descendents logo on the headstock which he worked for at 3 jobs along with various Gibson Les Paul models. Fender Guitars worked with DeLonge in late 1999 to create the Tom DeLonge Stratocaster (signature guitar) which consisted of a solid alder body fitted with a single Seymour Duncan Invader Bridge pickup. It was controlled by a lone volume knob adding to its simple design. At first, the Stratocasters were fitted with an American 2-Point tremolo system and was later replaced by a hardtail bridge. Its neck was made of solid maple with a rosewood fretboard, although there have been some custom Stratocasters that were fitted with maple fretboards. The necks included a large 1970s "CBS" headstock. The Fender signatures are still being used by DeLonge for recording songs by either of his bands.
In 2002, while touring with Box Car Racer, Tom began collaborating with Gibson to create a new Signature Model. He started off by using a standard Gibson ES-335, with all but the bridge volume knob removed, and the bridge pick-up replaced with a Seymour Duncan Invader bridge pick-up. This guitar was eventually covered with many different stickers including band stickers and clothing line stickers from Atticus Clothing, Macbeth Footwear and Famous Stars and Straps. This guitar can be seen in Box Car Racer live photos and in the studio videos for blink-182. In one of the videos, a prototype for his signature is seen that included an orange stripe instead of cream with a matching orange headstock, a metal volume knob, and a wrap-around bridge, instead of the Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge. In 2003, Gibson released his signature model, the Tom DeLonge Signature ES-333, which has only been available since its release in Brown and Cream, with a Natural neck and headstock. Along with his Gibson signature, Tom also used a baritone Fender Jazzmaster with a Seymour Duncan Invader live, as seen in AOL live sessions with the song "Obvious". The Tom DeLonge Signature starts with Gibson's classic semi-hollow body design and then extends it into punk rock with an overwound 'Dirty Fingers' humbucking pickup. Its thick, distorted tone is the Delonge's signature guitar tone and widely recognized as the quintessential Blink sound. On Angels & Airwaves albums, We Don't Need to Whisper and I-Empire Tom has used his signature Gibson ES-333 for all of his live shows. However, he has a number of touring guitars, which he has had made in a few different color combinations, including matte black with a black racing stripe, natural with a black racing stripe and white with a black racing stripe. Since the Blink-182 reunion, he has been seen using his original brown and cream guitar (which now has a Blink-182 'smiley logo' spray-painted onto the body), his natural and black guitar (which has now been abused with burns, scrapes, and stickers), and a new black and white guitar (made by Baratto), which is a custom Baritone version of his standard signature guitar, made for playing the song "Obvious" and other down-stepped songs. Epiphone has since come out with a lower cost version of the Tom DeLonge signature guitar, manufactured in China, but fitted with the same Dirty Fingers humbucker.
From very early on in Blink's career, Tom had used a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier amp head and a Marshall JCM 900 amp head along with Mesa Boogie and Marshall cabs for live shows. As his career progressed, Tom began using an intricate rack system along with three matching 4x12 and three 2x12 Mesa Boogie cabs. The rack system still made use of the Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier amp head, but it also included a Mesa Boogie 2:90 power amp and Triaxis preamp, Marshall EL34 power amp and JMP-1 preamp and a Voodoo Labs GCX Audio Switcher, all controlled via a Custom Audio Electronics midi footswitch (The rack discontinued the use of the Marshall JCM 900 amp head). The rack system also included a Furman power conditioner and Shure wireless unit.
For Angels and Airwaves, Tom made use of the same rack system minus the Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier but also included a TC Electronic G-Force effects unit as well as two Palmer PGA-04 amp simulators (one for the Triaxis preamp and one for the JMP-1 preamp).
Tom has started using a synth and oscillator rig for live shows, during the Angels and Airwaves LOVE Tour. His synth rig, along with his guitar effects rig, is now built into a custom tower rack system, which stands by him on stage. Tom also now uses this same system for Blink-182, and plays/samples most of the synths and effects for their songs live.
Past and present equipment
Tom DeLonge married Jennifer Jenkins on May 26, 2001 at Coronado Island in the San Diego Bay. The band Jimmy Eat World performed at the reception, and DeLonge gave each of the groomsmen, including Mark Hoppus, silver yo-yos from Tiffany & Co. The couple have been friends since high school and began dating in 1996.
He currently lives with his wife Jennifer, daughter Ava Elizabeth (born 2002) and son Jonas Rocket (born 2006), German Shepherd Grey, Labrador Retriever Chloe, and he recently got a new puppy as posted on the Angels And Airwaves Facebook page. He currently resides in Del Mar, California. In January 2006, his wife launched a line of high-end children's furniture, whose pieces are available at stores such as Barneys New York, Bellini and F.A.O. Schwarz. DeLonge stands 6 feet 4 inches tall.
Tom directed the music video for Taking Back Sunday's song "This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)" in 2004. Tom made a cameo appearance as the Burger Jungle drive thru clerk in the movie Idle Hands. Blink-182 is featured in the music documentaries: Riding in Vans with Boys, The Urethra Chronicles and The Urethra Chronicles II: Harder Faster Faster Harder. Tom also made a cameo appearance in the blockbuster film American Pie with his bandmates in Blink-182, acting in a scene while one of their songs, "Mutt", played in the background. Tom made a cameo appearance in The Simpsons with bandmates, while "All The Small Things" played in the background.
Since 2004, DeLonge has been active in politics, generally supporting the Democratic Party. In 2004 he campaigned for presidential candidate John Kerry and in 2008 he stated that he supported Barack Obama. Obama also used the song The Adventure while on the campaign trail.
DeLonge has created his own website called Modlife; the site allows bands and their fans to meet up and interact with each other. The artists can also choose whether to have paid subscriptions for certain items. In 2001, DeLonge started Atticus Clothing and Macbeth Footwear with fellow Blink-182 band member Mark Hoppus. However, after Hoppus sold his shares in both companies after the hiatus of Blink-182, Tom sold his shares in Atticus Clothing and is currently the sole owner of Macbeth Footwear. Macbeth Footwear has a separate line with vegan shoes.
In 2011, DeLonge helped launch two new entities. The first was called "Strange Times"—a website dedicated to highlighting reports of UFO activity and the latest news in theories. Also in 2011, and after being diagnosed and receiving treatment for his own cancer, DeLonge formed a breast cancer awareness foundation called "Boomer Loves Boobies" that helps raise funds for the Keep A Breast Foundation. The title of this foundation was derived from the character he played in Blink-182's "First Date" music video.
In November of 2013, a press release announced that DeLonge would be releasing a children's book titled Lonely Astronaut which would be part of a limited edition package available on Christmas Eve via Angels and Airwaves' official website.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tom DeLonge.|
- Angels & Airwaves, Tom's biography
- Tom DeLonge discography at Discogs
- Tom DeLonge on Twitter
- Tom DeLonge's Facebook page