Tom DeLonge traveled the world multiple times as the co-founder of the Poway -bred blink-182 , the hugely popular pop-punk band that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. But since stepping away from blink two years ago, the guitar-playing singer and songwriter has set his sights beyond the world and to the stars.
Or, rather, To The Stars.
That's the name of DeLonge's 2015 debut solo album. More importantly, it's also the name of the company he launched to produce his books, films and related franchises based on various mysteries involving science, the universe, UFOs and more.
In the past two years, DeLonge has co-authored four books and is now preparing to direct his first feature film, "Strange Times," about a posse of skateboarding San Diego teens who investigate the paranormal. A documentary is also in the works.
A lifelong sci-fi fan, DeLonge, 41, first documented his beliefs with blink's 1999 song, "Aliens Exist." He grinned when asked if his upcoming feature film is autobiographical.
"That was my life - skateboarding and music! And, to this day, I wish I still skateboarded," he said, during an interview last week at To The Stars' Encinitas headquarters. "I look at skateboards and wish I could (ride), but I'd break my (expletive) neck!
"The movie is about North County and San Diego, and most likely will be filmed here, on Highway 101 in Encinitas. Encinitas will be on the big screen! I It's a coming-of-age, Spielberg -meets-John-Hughes movie, but with a hard 'R' rating. It will be really funny, but scary, and touch on what it's like to grow up here."
DeLonge's latest book, the 433-page "Sekret Machines: Gods," will be published in early March by To The Stars and distributed by Simon & Schuster.
Co-written with noted author and occult historian Peter Levenda, "Gods" is the first in DeLonge's three-volume, non-fiction, investigative series on UFOs and related subjects. It will be followed by "Sekret Machines: Man" and "Sekret Machines: War."
"Tom shatters the 'rock star' stereotype, because of his avid interest and all the research he has done," Levenda, 66, said.
"We had long conversations before we met at a UFO convention in Phoenix in 2015. When he first called me and said he was 'Tom DeLonge from blink,' I thought it might be a hoax. Then he told me the kind of project he was working on, and it sounded really fascinating."
From the CIA to 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'
The publication of "Gods" follows last Tuesday's paperback release of the 704-page "Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows," the best-selling 2016 fiction novel DeLonge co-wrote with AJ Hartley.
The paperback edition features a new foreword by former CIA Senior Intelligence Service officer Jim Semivan. The foreword to "Gods" is by Dr. Jacques Vallee, the scientist and author who inspired the character of French researcher Claude Lacombe in the 1977 Steven Spielberg sci-fi film, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
An ambitious book, "Gods" draws from extensive interviews with scientists, aerospace engineers, military officials and intelligence officers.
"When you look at the UFO phenomenon, it encompasses religion, physics, government secrecy, archaeology, cosmology and many other things," said DeLonge, who in February received the OpenMinds.tv 2017 UFO Researcher of the Year Award at the 2017 International UFO Congress in Arizona.
"So, in order to have a conversation about how this one subject matter - UFOs - has affected all the branches of the truth, we have to start with the ideas of ancient gods and the mythologies they represent that maybe weren't mythologies. And then we have to look at how man has been dealing with this, since at least World War II. ... I want people to have facts. Doing fiction and non-fiction books is the best of both worlds...
"This isn't about landings, or abductions, or seeing something in the sky - there are thousands of books that do that. This is about how we come to grips with it and where we're going in the future, and understanding it and pushing back, for the first time in human history. That doesn't make too much sense here (and now), but it would, if we go a few years down the road and see the feature film and the documentary."
What first drew DeLonge to UFOs? Did he have a close encounter as a kid or undergo an other-worldly experience?
"Not that I know of," he replied. "I can think of a few instances where there could have been something happening. But I can't point to a specific instance of lights floating in the air in my bedroom, or of me flying around. I do have one moment that happened in the desert (in 2014) that is very specific, but not as a kid.
"The more you learn about this subject matter, the more you learn it has a lot to do with consciousness and the way it can manipulate consciousness. So, somewhere along the line, there could have been (something) in me to start this conversation."
For those who know DeLonge best for his work with the proudly juvenile blink - whose top-selling albums include 1999's "Enema of the State" and 2001's "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" - his transformation into a best-selling author on paranormal-related subjects seems, well, crazy.
"I remember telling people this is what I was going to do, and they thought I was crazy - again!" he recalled, chortling.
"It started probably right around that time period when I split off from (blink). I was already in contact with all these authors to get started, so that would have been January of 2015 when the s--- hit the fan."
The controversy over whether DeLonge quit blink, left voluntarily or was fired quickly went viral. He and the band's other two members, bassist-singer Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker , offered conflicting accounts and traded barbs.
After Alkaline Trio guitarist-singer Matt Skiba assumed DeLonge's role in blink, the band hit the road to tour. The revamped group made a new album, 2016's "California," which in December earned blink its first-ever Grammy nomination.
'Blink is in my DNA'
Even so, DeLonge has no regrets about his decision to favor To The Stars over blink. But his connection to the band remains strong.
"Blink is in my DNA," he said, suggesting an eventual reunion is likely. "I talk to Travis quite a bit and we try and figure out how and when it's going to make sense.
"It's not like I (permanently) walked away. They have someone doing my job for me (in blink). It's just that I'm so busy. If I wanted to, I could be back (in blink) in a period of days."
From a business perspective, DeLonge never left blink.
"I still own the band," he noted, before quickly clarifying that he, Hoppus and Barker "own everything" blink-related.
He smiled broadly when asked about the San Diego bands that inspired him when blink was starting out.
"I was looking up to Rocket From The Crypt," DeLonge recalled, "and even as far back as Sprung Monkey, who played at SOMA and seemed so big. They had 1000 people at their show! Fluf, with O, they were like musical royalty. Tanner and Drive Like Jehu were the real musicians of San Diego.
"And there we were, with blue hair. We could barely play our instruments and we did more (penis) jokes than songs! We were the black sheep, everywhere we went. They didn't even want us on Cargo Records, so they made up this new imprint, Grilled Cheese.
"The guy who owned Cargo seriously made a bet that we would only sell 3000 records, total, ever. He didn't like us, but his son did. So they made a bet. And, fortunately, we beat it. We sold 3012 records!"
Does DeLonge miss blink?
His affirmative response underscored why he is happier - at least for now - not being in the band that has long been synonymous with his name.
"Oh, yeah, I miss the relationship we had, and the growth, and the crazy times," DeLonge said. "But I don't miss the grind. Like, every band has a grind, so you have to love it so much that you tolerate the grind.
"And, being on tour was such a grind. I didn't love it enough; it was too much disruption for me. And playing the same songs every night and moving your body (the same way) with your guitar, it felt like you were 'vogue-ing,' like you were faking it. 'Here's the same song again - 1, 2, 3, 4!' I felt like a robot."
He leaned forward for emphasis.
"That's when I said: 'I need a break.' But, now, the grind to announce what we will be announcing soon and to do these books and the movie is unreal! And this is by far the biggest thing I've ever had in my life. It's way bigger than (anything) I ever had with the band.
"It's exciting and stressful, not only because of the enormity of it, but because of what I know."
It's clear from his books and from chatting with him that DeLonge knows quite a lot about UFOs, their history, the U.S. government's secret programs to investigate the paranormal, and more.
But what he knows and what he will discuss are two different matters.
In one breath, DeLonge made a passing reference to last fall's WikiLeaks disclosure of UFO-related emails between him and now-former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta . In the next, he quickly said he couldn't discuss the subject.
Several times during this interview, DeLonge alluded to a major upcoming announcement. It might unveil startling information about UFOs that has been kept under wraps. Then again, it might not.
"I guarantee that, after your hear it, you'll read between the lines and want to meet with me the very next day. I think it's that important," he said. "We'll be announcing this in the next 60 to 90 days."
What, exactly, will he be announcing?
"I can't tell you," DeLonge replied, adding: "I think there's an opportunity to affect the world in a very big way, with what we are getting ready to do."
As for how he has been able to gain the confidence of scientists and current and former top U.S. government officials, DeLonge said: "My notoriety gets me in the door. But I've learned to communicate in a way that inspires thought and consideration. And I deliver that with an extreme amount of humility and respect for the people I'm talking to.
"I create something that is of service, that I know they need. ... They don't look at me as a musician, they look at me as artist with a strong sense of business and a rare ability to communicate large things in a way millennials will gravitate to, hopefully."
And what does DeLonge create that is of service?
"I don't want to talk about it now," he said. "The announcements we make - (and) what I'll be involved with - will answer a lot of questions, as far as what I've been up to, the mischief I've been up to. ...
"I think people will understand I've been telling the truth all along."