Frame of Mind: Making a Documentary About Tom DeLonge’s Passion For Motorcycles, Part I

Main image: Our resident hipster, Kyle, with Tom DeLonge.

WARNING: Explicit langue is used. If you’re easily offended, perhaps you should move along to something with less offensive verbiage. Love, me aka the only vurbmoto employee that doesn’t have a username inspired by a hot dog. [Slaw Dog Note: Which is dumb.]

Throughout the return of vurbmoto and Frame of Mind, (the least viewed feature on the entire site), I’ve used this space as a home for me to joke about my relationship with the founding member of Blink 182, Box Car Racer, and Angels & Airwaves, Tom DeLonge. Now, I use the term “relationship” loosely. Yes, we really do know each other, we worked together on a short form doc and about a month ago the two of us actually exchanged a small text message conversation, but it doesn’t go any further than that. Though, I still maintain we could be top eight Myspace friends if things really got hot and steamy. Maybe.

Anyway, I wanted to utilize this installment of FoM to discuss and share insight into the making of the short form doc I shot and edited about Tom back in January of 2019 for our friends at META.

For those that don’t know, let me give you a quick backstory. The first record [Slaw note: Kyle’s old af] I ever bought with my own money circa 1997 was Blink 182’s Dude Ranch. I’d heard the songs Dammit (take your pants off) and Joise courtesy of 106.7 KROQ quite a lot, and I was always hooked by the sounds of the catchy guitar riffs. Once I procured possession of said album, my passion for the band only grew and, when they released The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show… Yeeeeaaah.

I was in seventh grade and my friends and I couldn’t believe the crude, obscene humor we were hearing on this record. To this day, you don’t listen to the record for the live songs, you listen to it for the absolutely offensive and vulgar banter between Mark and Tom. Oh, and of course for Family Reunion: “Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cock sucker, mother fucker, tit, fart, turd, and twat… I fucked your mom.” Yep. That’s a song from the minds of Blink 182, a band in which defines my youth. Classic.

Today, the kids have that WAP song from Cardi B to foam at the mouth over. But, the true, obscene art happened in 1999 thanks to Blink. Sorry, not sorry Cardi B, but WAP is 21 years too late.

In 2002, I was 14 years old and attending my first-ever concert at Irvine Meadows in Irvine, California, to see Blink 182 live on the Pop Disaster Tour. Jimmy Eat World opened, followed by Green Day, and then Blink. I’ll never forget this moment: Blink takes the stage, opening with the catchy guitar part of Anthem Part II, and behind them is the word FUCK, spelt out MASSIVELY, and on fire! The memories I recall of parents grabbing their children and running to the exit upon this reveal was comical.

I remember nervously looking over my shoulder to see if my mom was going to grab me so that we could leave. Thankfully, amongst the massive oder of hippie lettuce in the air, she just sat back, didn’t say a word, and let me enjoy the show while I almost certainly caught a contact high and further extended my knowledge of incredibly offensive and fucked up jokes.

I couldn’t find any videos from circa 2001/2002 of the flaming fuck from that infamous Blink 182 tour. But, I did find a still photo from their 2002 tour of said fuck.

Fast-forward a couple of years (2004) and it’s announced that, at the height of Blink’s success, Tom has quit the band and Blink is on an indefinite hiatus. I remember this day well, and I remember also not being that heart-broken over it. It was around this time that my musical tastes started to desire something a bit more mature and meaningful, but I didn’t know what that was. I was starting to listen to classical musical like Mozart and Beethoven and lot of classical piano composers. I found it to be calming and fascinating and, to this day, piano lessons are still something I desire.

Around late 2005, I was four or five months out of high school, had thrown myself head first into working full-time at Disneyland, quit racing motocross, and I was still searching for the right music to fill the void. And then I heard via KROQ that Tom was starting a new band. While I recall this being exciting news, I also wasn’t too intrigued. I suspected it would be in the similar vein to Blink and, while I love the music, I just needed something more mature, perhaps?

Well, a few weeks after I heard about this, some kid (NOT ME I SWEAR) broke into Tom’s e-mail account and leaked a song from his new band, Angels & Airwaves. The leaked song? The Adventure. The moment that song crescendos and all of the guitars start doing their thing I had chills running up and down my body and was overwhelmed with emotion. The soundscape and architecture of that song, the lyrics, and the overall emotion: it was exactly what I needed. To this day, I’ve never had a single song hit me like The Adventure did and still does in 2020. It was aspirational, motivational, and from there, I was hooked. I say this as objectively as I possibly can, if you understand the message behind that song and the ethos of what the band stands for, I maintain that debut record from AvA—We Don’t Need To Whisper—is the greatest 49-minutes of modern day progressive rock ’n roll we’ve had released in the last 20 years.

The moral of the story: I’ve greatly respected and appreciated Tom’s body of work since I was a kid and, when he formed AvA, that band and it’s message solidified to me everything I wanted to be as a human being and gave me the push needed to begin doing my best to take control of my goals and dreams.

So, in October of 2019, when I received a text with an opportunity to work with Tom on a project, clearly I wasn’t gonna turn it down. Though, I also didn’t take it too seriously. The text I received was, I believe, on my wedding day from longtime friend Ben Geise at META. He explained to me that they were working with Tom’s sister, Kari (basically, she keeps Tom wrangled and in check), to do a feature story about Tom’s passion for riding motorcycles and also a short form doc to compliment the feature article for the magazine. Obviously, I told Ben I was in. However, my initial thoughts were simple: “No way in hell the dude who started Blink 182, a legitimate rock star, is going to have any interest in being a part of anything our little niche demographic wants to do.”

Welp, turns out I was wrong, so go fuck yourself, Kyle. But, in my defense, I think that reaction was a defense mechanism to not allow myself to get excited about this potential opportunity. After several months of fleshing out potential dates, Ben confirmed that we would be shooting with Tom the second week of January 2019. It wasn’t until I was in Encinitas, CA, that I allowed myself to believe this was actually happening.

However, something I’ve never spoken of is that I also had a small part of me that didn’t want to do this film. Why is that, you ask? About a year or so prior to this opportunity, an almost two hour long in-depth documentary shot by DP John Belinski about Tom was released. The film went deep into Tom’s story of growing up in a broken home and founding Blink 182 in his garage, but also went deep into why he left Blink in 2004, and then why he left for the second time in 2015. It also dives deep into his goals and plans for To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, and who he is as an individual.

It was so well done and encompassed anything and everything you’d wanted to know about Blink, Box Car Racer, AvA, and TTS that I didn’t believe we could create something that was unique enough. Honestly, I felt like we would simply be recreating a shorter version of something that had just been done and, as a creative individual, there was an aspect of me that wasn’t attracted to this idea. I didn’t want this to feel like a rip off of the feature length doc. I also knew I had an opportunity approach Tom’s story from a slightly more unique perspective, utilizing my experiences and perceptions of what I’ve seen from the outside looking in in order to craft my story. Plus, we’d be discussing his passion for motorcycles, which nobody had done just yet. I knew I was going to accept this opportunity, I just hoped it didn’t feel like a rip off of the feature doc that John had DP’d. And, to this day, I sure hope it feels like its own unique, stand-alone piece.

Stay tuned for Part II to learn more about Kyle’s “friendship” with Tom later this week. Right here on Vurb.

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