Tom DeLonge x Benji Weatherly: The Whalebone Interview

Portraits by Steve Sherman | @tsherms

om DeLonge and I became close friends at 19 in Southern California, and even back then he couldn’t stop talking about UFOS. We met at a time where my surf career was more likely to succeed than his ambition to become a rock star, with his band Blink-182. As you know by now, Tom was bound for the stratosphere. Whether it be music or anything he felt compelled to follow through with to the end. That’s where we are now. Tom’s music might always be what people think of first. But, it’s no surprise to Tom, or anyone close to him, the unknown he seeks might bring him to even greater (perhaps literal) heights. His company, To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been a hot topic of late after video footage it brought to light was confirmed to be legitimate footage of an unidentified flying object by the US Navy. Then To the Stars signed a contract with the US Army. He’s even got a show on the History Channel on all this. Tom is set on changing more than just people’s understanding of the unknown, but what it could mean for the future and much more. You’ll see. —Benji Weatherly


BENJI: I think we were 19 or 20 and you were working at GNC and you brought a VHS tape with this black and white footage to the apartment we shared. It was super bad footage and we got really, really stoned and then we watched it for, like…it felt like for four days. It was very hard to follow and it was all this crazy shit, and I remember thinking,“Wow. That was pretty cool,” but I went on with my life instantaneously. But you just kept going with it. When was the very first time you started thinking about aliens?

TOM: I was in junior high. I remember I had a free period or something. The only thing you could do at that age though was go to the library, so I went in there and I was like, “Fuck. I don’t want to read any normal books. Is there something interesting here?” I found this book that had a picture of the Loch Ness Monster on the front of it…that famous picture, then it was some UFO stuff. That was the beginning. I was like,“Whoa.” Then what happened was, during “Cheshire Cat,” the first Blink record, we were in a van touring and we didn’t have iPhones and stuff then so you read books. I bought a huge book on UFOs because I remembered that one book from junior high and then it was all downhill from there. I was like, “Oh my God. I’m falling in this rabbit hole.” But the funny thing is when you and I moved in together, the very first check I got from Universal Music Group, the very first check I got, I literally went down, cashed it and went out and bought a computer and put it in that apartment.

BENJI: I remember.

TOM: I started downloading all this UFO shit and I had it in folders and huge binders. I had a whole bookshelf of binders of UFO research in our apartment. I was mental.

BENJI: I figured because you lived in Poway, you saw shit in the sky. I was wondering if that was the reason. In my mind, I just assumed you saw something out in the desert out there.

TOM: Yeah. All you surfers have never gone east of the 5, so you just assume all this weird shit happens.

BENJI: The video that has just come to light, the declassified video, it’s from 2004. What was it about 2004? That was your heyday when Blink was blowing up. What happened? How many years after 2004 did you get to see that video?

Even the Navy PR person came out and said “These were not supposed to be released.”

TOM: Those specific UFO events happened over multiple years. 2004 was one of the years. 2008 was another one. I mean, they’re happening every year, every day around the world. When I was given those videos, they were properly declassified regardless of press out there. Even the Navy PR person came out and said, “These were not supposed to be released.” Well, they actually were. They went through the proper declass channels. I know this because Lou that ran the UFO program works for me now. I hired him away from the Pentagon and he declassified those right before he left and then The New York Times put out that article. I didn’t see these until just a couple of years ago. I didn’t even know they existed. No one saw these, and they were classified specifically because of the type of technology we were using to track them and the coordinates. There’s a whole bunch of numbers that are on the screen that they don’t want people seeing, not necessarily the UFO itself. The UFO itself, they definitely don’t really want people seeing that. These videos, I didn’t even know existed until a couple of years ago but the funny thing is, it happened involving the USS Nimitz carrier strike group, and that’s the only carrier I’ve actually ever been on. Blink played on the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf years back.

BENJI: No way.

TOM: I always thought that was kind of strange, and then the fighter pilot that was sent out to do the intercept of that UFO and who actually engaged it and was circling around it—they thought they were going to get blown out of the sky by this advanced craft. He was actually on the USS Nimitz when I played on it.

I’m holding all these flags, a colonel walks up and knew who I was and I looked like the most patriotic guy ever.

BENJI: Is that the same time when your brother was in the army—when they kind of did the first strike in Iraq? Was that the same year?

TOM: Yeah. It was. My brother had just gotten back from the second Iraq war and when he landed, he got off the plane with all the special operations guys and I told all the moms and babies to go inside because it was like 6 in the morning. It was freezing and they’re all waiting for their husbands and fathers to get back from war so I grabbed all their flags. They had all these little flags and I put them all in my pockets and I said, “You guys go inside. Go stay warm,” and then as I’m holding all these flags, a colonel walks up and knew who I was and I looked like the most patriotic guy ever. “You want to play for the troops?” and I was like, “Yeah. Totally,” and then he goes, “Where?” I was joking. I go,“Baghdad,” because, I mean, 90 days before that we just took Baghdad. Well, I was like, “Cool.” We exchanged numbers, but I was joking. I thought, “Obviously we can’t play Baghdad.” Well, Rick, our manager, called me up the following week and goes, “Tom, what the fuck did you do?” and I was like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Dude, what the fuck did you do?” and I go, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He goes, “The Pentagon just called me. They said Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, okayed you guys to play Baghdad for the troops.” I was like, “What?” Then we’re at the Baghdad airport, and then I was like, “Oh my god.” I was shitting my pants. I was like, “I’m not going to go into a war zone to play little songs about genitals and stuff. What am I doing?”

Photo Steve Sherman

BENJI: They’re following you. Think about how funny it is that in one video the aliens are where you live near San Diego—and they cover all of that territory. All the places I surf, which freaks me out. And then they go to the Middle East. If they were kind of following you around—especially when you were playing for the troops—they’re probably right above laughing.

TOM: Well, you start to learn—I’ve met a lot of people associated with the program on this stuff, whether in the Department of Defense or in the Intelligence community, which are many of the three-letter agencies, and one of the things they toss around a lot is—they always say there are no coincidences when it comes to this subject. So anything that has a pattern and anything that seems weird, they take very seriously. It’s really strange how everything works. It’s like on my coast, on the only carrier I’ve ever been on, and it’s just weird. That was the one event that all my guys from the government that joined my company, they all chose to go public with that event. I didn’t choose that one. They did because they thought it was the most tangible thing that the public can sink their teeth into because there are videos and there’s research and there’s government documentation, and some of my guys were on the program that went out there and investigated it on the carrier in 2004 and 2008, so it’s just wild, the coincidences.

BENJI: Was there a favorite sci-fi movie growing up that kind of really was a standout?

TOM: It’s a good question. I’m a Star Wars kid like most of us, but I remember Close Encounters was a big deal to me. I remember as a kid that movie Flight of the Navigator—the kid with the UFO, the Disney movie—that stuck in my head for quite a while and the crazy thing is that… Dude, there’s some shit in that movie that I only know now because of what I do for living, outside of music, thatI kind of go, “Wow. Someone snuck some stuff in there.”

BENJI: It’s so funny because you’ve been the topic of so many people hating. It’s exciting for me now how you’ve been vindicated. Because I’ve been keeping my mouth shut from all the Joe Rogan comments and all my friends telling me you’re obsessing on aliens and all that stuff. The fact is, it makes me feel good, so it must be the best feeling for you these last, I don’t know, two years that you’ve been getting vindicated.

I was prepared for people to think I’m nuts.

TOM: I always knew this was real, but when I got brought in to all the guys I work with now… there were two groups of people. I got kind of the wagons circled around me by a bunch of multi-star generals who really helped mentor me and got me ready to have the conversation with the public. But then after that, it got the attention of a bunch of people at DOD and CIA and other places and those were the guys that circled around me after—when I was already talking. I was brought deep into a lot of this stuff and I knew that I was going to take the bullets and the arrows and the rocks that people were throwing because no one understood this or believed, but I knew exactly how real this was. I knew how classified it was. I knew why it’s such a big deal with national security, and so I was prepared for people to think I’m nuts. I knew that the plan that was being put together was going to rock people’s worlds and sooner or later, they’d come around and go, “Wow. Tom’s not as crazy as they said he was.” When the Navy came out and said that the videos were real, they talked about me. And all those articles came out and the US Navy acknowledged the videos that I brought out or whatever were real UFOs…That’s when everyone goes, “Holy shit. Maybe we should re-listen to that Rogan thing.” Rogan has an incredible show. He does an incredible job. I don’t think he really understood the stuff I was putting towards him, but now I think he’s probably going, “Fuck. Maybe I should have taken that a little more seriously.”

BENJI: So your company now has an Army contract for research on materials you have. What is that about? Alien alloys? What’s that mean?

TOM: We’re not calling anything alien because the reality is we don’t have evidence of what these crafts are or who’s in them, but what we do have is material where we have a chain of titles going back a handful of years so we know where it’s from. From that point forward, we have hearsay for about five decades previous to that. We do have a lot of studies that we’ve done and a lot of previous studies, some at national labs, that show the hallmarks of highly engineered and kind of esoteric material. There are some attributes of this material that are extremely anomalous, and further study, we think, is going to probably potentially show some really outstanding things. The contracts that we just announced—I can’t get into too much. But it is with the US Army and it is a research and development contract that deals with a lot of the technologies To The Stars Academy are doing, like material science, active camouflage and space-time metric engineering—which is another way of talking about antigravity—and all these different things. So yes, the government takes To the Stars very seriously. The government takes the materials we have very seriously and they take this subject very seriously. I think if anything, this shows a little bit to the public the kind of places that this company is going, which is some pretty highly advanced engineering and science.

BENJI: So there’s no real end game, right? I mean, the cool thing is people just thought you’re looking for aliens to say, “They’re here. They’re fucking real!” But it seems like there’s no real end game if you can keep developing all these projects, right? It’s kind of groundbreaking to think that when they’re talking about the guys on your show and they’re like, “This guy’s in neuroscience, this guy’s chief of Green Berets, a SEAL, and then Tom DeLonge.”

TOM: I know. It’s so funny.

BENJI: Dude, you’re maybe the happiest I’ve ever seen you. You have a beanie on and you’re sitting around the office in Encinitas and you’ve got people around you that —I mean the president gets like a minute with him. It’s just so cool. What an amazing achievement. Obviously dick jokes and millions of people screaming the song lyrics that you came up with is pretty dope, but the fact that you’re actually maybe going to change something…not only military, but we could actually find out how to transport ourselves around this Earth quicker so we could see more stuff before we die and cool shit like that.

TOM: Yeah. There is no real end game here because the company was set up to handle this conversation with the world, which means communicating it through documentaries, motion pictures, television, nonfiction, fiction, books and all that. It also means studying it. We have a big artificial intelligence database that does machine learning and pattern recognition on people’s experiences and what they see. We’re building this huge—kind of like when we sequenced the genome for the first time and we’re trying to understand what it all means and what it all does. This database project, we think, will pinpoint the who, what, where, when and why of a lot of this stuff. Then the third thing is building the technology, and there’s no real end game to that because it literally is like shipping a container of first aid supplies to Puerto Rico in eight minutes.It’s a big deal but we’re also very active with the government.

We talk to the Pentagon a couple of times a week. We’re the ones that set up all the briefings over at Congress with the senators and congressmen, and you see these things leak out. We don’t talk about it too much, but it’s on the show a little bit. We’ve also had a lot of input on information to help our lawmakers understand the kind of things that you think about when drafting new national security law. We’ve kind of had this parallel track of getting the government informed and briefed, getting the people informed and educated and then getting the technology off the ground to where people…it’s kind of the beginning of the internet where they have this thing that nobody understands, but one guy is like, “I think search is going to be a big deal,” and Sergey Brin does Google and no one really realized at the time how important search is. That’s what this is and it will change the way we think about who we are, our history and where we’re going. It’ll really, really pull people together internationally but even more than that, I think spiritually it’s going to have us all take a big hard look at belief systems and our place in the universe. We literally think within 10 to 15years, which is no longer than what SpaceX just did— SpaceX is like 12th or 13th year in and they’re launching rockets, and we think we’re about that far out, give or take, from bringing this technology to fruition—which is essentially what people see in sci-fi movies.It’s really exciting times for this.

BENJI: Fuck yeah, it is. My last question has to do with the ocean. Is there anything on your guys’ horizon with trying to check out stuff really far deep, deep down there? It seems like something’s going on right below the surface.

TOM: There are a whole bunch of…all the large bodies of water across the Earth have kind of enormous UFOs—what they call it—we call them UAP or UF, so underwater submerged objects. I was shown a map by people withItalian intelligence of all their hotspots in the Mediterranean and it’s just like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these hotspots and you’re kind of, “Oh my god. Where are these things at? What are they doing? They’re everywhere.” We’re working on a case now that…a lot of times these cases come to us and we put together all the information on it and we’ll take it back to our partners in various places and try to help them get a handle on some other things they may not know about, but it just leaked a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been holding it a little close to our chest for the past year.

There was a helicopter. They go out and they test torpedoes and when they shoot these torpedoes out, they’ll go out with a helicopter and lower a Navy SEAL down into the water from a cable and grab the torpedo and bring it back, and then they check the navigation system and they check…it’s a test, you know. Well, they did this and then they go out there deep into the ocean to retrieve the torpedo. Here’s the giant helicopter hovering. They lower the Navy SEAL frogman down on the cable and right when the guy’s flippers are touching the water, this giant black shadow starts coming up with lights and surfaces underneath this frogman and he’s screaming, “Get me up. Get me up. Get me up,” and this crack opens up, sucks the torpedo out of the fucking surface of the water and goes, “Boom,” and disappears however many thousands of knots underwater.

BENJI: Holy shit.

TOM: You’ve got to think about how scary that would’ve been to see that. Who is that? What did that?

BENJI: Okay. I don’t have to deal with just sharks anymore. That’s awesome.

TOM: No, sharks. Sharks are nothing. You’re going to be wishing sharks were the only thing down there.

BENJI: Dude, I’m going to get a torpedo up my asshole. That’s great.

TOM: You know what would be really scary? What if it was sharks that were flying these crafts? That would be the worst.