Interview with Angels & Airwaves guitarist David Kennedy

- Oct 23, 2006 at 11:44AM
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When a band’s members come from big-name groups like Blink-182, The Offspring, Boxcar Racer, and The Distillers, two things can happen: 1. They will use their collective skills to produce amazing music, wowing fans all over the world, or 2. They will rely on their reputations and past successes in order to maintain their fame. Luckily for fans of Angels & Airwaves, this particular band falls into the first category. Frontman Tom DeLonge may have talked the talk leading up to the release of their debut album, We Don’t Need to Whisper, but upon listening to the record, it’s clear that AVA can walk the walk as well. I caught up with guitarist David Kennedy at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, where the band was playing alongside Taking Back Sunday and Head Automatica. Here’s what he had to say about Angels & Airwaves and their new album.

You’ve played in quite a few bands in the past – Built to Last, Boxcar Racer, Hazen Street…
David: Yeah. [laughing]

Yeah. Oh, we’re started.
David: The answer to that question’s true.

Good, cause I forgot to write down the rest of the question. [laughing] Give me a bit of your musical background… how you started out playing.
David: I started out playing... I don’t really know exactly. Basically, my mom had me playing violin as a kid, and for some reason, music always seemed cool to me. I saw a movie called La Bamba, which was about the life of Ritchie Valens, and he was cool shit. He was always walking around with a guitar, and at the time, I was like, “Fuck the violin. I want to play the guitar!” So I started trying to play the guitar back then, but it didn’t really stick. I got caught up in playing baseball and doing different things. Nothing involved being inside too much, so I didn’t get back around to playing guitar until I was about 15. I just had a bunch of older friends. Tom and I, we were part of the same group of friends, and everyone played in bands. Everyone played music, so it was really natural and easy for me to really want to get back into playing the guitar. My best friend at the time – still one of my best friends – he was an incredible musician. He played the drums, bass, guitar, everything, and so we just started jamming at his house when I was around 15 and... I don’t know, that’s just how I guess I got started. It obviously had to develop from there to playing in bands.

Okay. So how and when did Angels & Airwaves come together? Well, you said that you grew up with Tom, so that’s obviously how you became part of that, right?
David: That is right. We’ve been friends since high school, but our musical paths have been different. I’ve been into a much more aggressive style of music and he was off running around the world playing in Blink. Years went by, and we kind of ended up in the same place. We ended up playing together in Boxcar and we did that for a while. Then, once again, we were back again doing different things and I guess it came about based on... I was at a time in my life at the end of 2004 or something like that... everything just sort of did a 180. I found myself not really doing music, and not doing anything I thought I was going to be doing at that time, and I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Shortly after that, Tom found himself in the same place. And Angels and Airwaves – right around that time we started talking about it. We first started talking about where we wanted to be in life. How we wanted to live life, and what we wanted from it, y’know? For our friends and family. Through that, we started talking about being in another band together. That was at the very end of February, or beginning of March or something like that, of last year. Once we started talking about that, I decided that, yes, music was a healthy environment to remain involved with, and we had to start something new, as long as we did it true and the way we wanted to do it. So that’s what we did.

Right on. So your debut album, We Don’t Need to Whisper, was released a little over a month ago, and just a few days later – actually, on May 26th – it went gold in Canada, and the sales really haven’t shown any sign of slowing down.
David: Really?

Yeah. It’s amazing what a little research will tell me.
David: [To Jarvis] You hear that, Jarv?

Jarvis: Yeah.

David: Jarv here plays bass in Head Automatica.

Jarvis: You’re just rubbing it in that you’re more popular than us on this tour. You’re like, “Our record sells more than yours, too!” [laughing]

David: Yeah, well, what can I say? I’ve been around a little longer than you, so...

Jarvis: You’re an old man...

David: And I’m a little taller.

Jarvis: ...you’re running out of time.

David: Hey man. I’m only like, 6 months older than you.

Jarvis: Yeah, but that’s enough.

David: [to Shawna] I’m sorry... did I answer your question yet?

Nope. [laughing]
David: I’m really sorry. Gold? I don’t even know what that means. I know it’s incredible, I’m not used to... I mean, I just can’t get my head around it – that people could... that people would... I mean, it’s stupid to say, but it’s just really cool.

So what – aside from selling more than Head Automatica I guess – do you hope to achieve with this album? [laughing]
David: Well, as long as we stay a couple steps above them, cause they’ve been my standard for a long time now....

Jessie: Ooooohhhh...

David: Jessie here plays keyboards in Head Automatica.

Nice to meet you, Jessie.
Jessie: Nice to meet you too!

I wasn’t actually trying to be condescending or anything…
Jessie: Oh, not at all! It’s great. They do sell more records, what can I say?

David: Their record just came out, by the way, so make sure you get that in there, that their record came out. Is it out in Canada yet?

Jessie: Yeah, it should be out.

David: Alright, good. So if you want to check it out...

Jessie: [to Jarvis] It’s out in Canada, right?

Jarvis: Fuck if I know. I guess so.

David: So um... What the fuck was the question?

What do you hope to achieve with your album?
David: Oh man, I want everyone in the world to have a copy of it! What do you mean? I want everyone to give it a chance. I want everyone to listen to it. I want everyone to believe... I don’t know. Everything you’d ever want for, say, your newborn baby. That’s what you’d want.

That’s actually a great way to put it.
David: I don’t have a baby, though. Just so you know.

It’s your metaphorical baby?
David: Yeah. It’s not really though, but I can only imagine... you want it to grow up and be successful. It’s a life-long thing. That was a great analogy by the way.

That was a fantastic analogy!
David: I’m gonna use that one. Just so you know.

Alright. I’ll send you the transcript of this, and you can just… keep it on file.
David: Yeah! Okay, I have to answer that question.

Alright, so you guys have been sweeping radio stations with “The Adventure”. The video, from what I read, is the first in a chronological series, followed by “It Hurts”, and most recently, “Do It To Me Now”, which will be aired on MTV’s Making the Video next week.
David: We’re doing “It Hurts” next week?

I have no idea? I guess so… [laughing]
David: I don’t know, you could easily be confused cause we’ve been doing these short films on our website and then we have the ones that we can show on TV videos....

So do they both follow the same storyline?
David: No. I mean, they both have the same theme - a sort of other-worldly, space, futuristic sort of theme. We’ve got that vibe. But the stuff on the website may seem to tell more of a story than our videos that we put out. Either way, they definitely seem like they could go in a particular order.

[someone signals there’s 5 minutes left]

We just got the five minute mark.
David: I’m sorry. I talk a lot, so....

It’s okay. So you’re also working on a movie, which is a World War 2-based film?
David: I wouldn’t say it was “based”, but I know we have imagery... but it’s just a metaphor.

Oh okay, cause just about everything I read about it said that. I thought it was reliable. [laughing]
David: No, it’s not. [laughing]

Do you think it all kind of developed from one source?
David: Maybe, but I think it’s just the visual. You see soldiers and tanks, but it’s all sort of spacey – shooting stars and businessmen with....

Yeah. It’s more abstract.
David: Yeah. It’s just an idea of trying to create a feeling, but the movie should actually reflect something more of a story of where somebody might want to go in their life, y’know? It’s not really... Well, it’s just kind of a good way to sort of reflect this record and the feeling of this record. It’s not even a direct storyline to go along with the record or anything like that, it’s just another way to experience the music and tell another story.

Wicked. I read in an interview you did with MusicOMH.com that you said, “There’s something we want to do at our live shows which we’ve spoke to a few scientists about. Scientifically, they’re just starting to figure out how to do this, and it will probably take around six years before they sort everything out.” Can you expand on that?
David: Well you know what? I can say that we say things like that based on things coming out of our asses.

Wonderful.
David: We have this idea that we can set high expectations and say we’re waiting for technology, so if it doesn’t come through, it means that technology’s just not at where we’re at. We actually have talked to some people like that at UCST, which is a college down where we’re from, and some different people about different ways to do 3D and a few things live, but it will take a while. We’re definitely trying to create an environment at our shows that would be an absolute escape from somebody’s life. Whatever you want to escape from, it’s just going to be a real getaway, y’know? We just want to create that, not just through the music, but through the visuals and through the whole experience. So that’s our goal, and we’re working for it. And the truth is, technology just isn’t quite where we’re at. Mostly. [laughing] We have great imaginations.

Okay, so within the band, there seems to be a pretty big interest in science fiction. So what are your theories? Do you think that aliens exist or…
David: Yes. How could they not fucking exist? It’d be fucking retarded. I mean, I don’t even know... Tom’s a real nutjob with that stuff.

Yeah, does he actually have an entire computer he just uses to research, or is that just another one of those online flying rumours?
David: I think it’s an exaggeration, but I think that’s all he does on his computer. [laughing]

It’s not like he has two?
David: Yeah, exactly. It’s not like, “This is my alien computer and this is my work computer,” but I think he probably does that on his computer. I don’t know what else he does. Besides look at porn, too. No but, yeah I absolutely believe. I just wish they’d just come out and just be there. Space is infinite. It just keeps on going, so how can we be the only fucking thing, y’know?

[someone signals to wrap it up]

Oh no, she’s cutting us off!
David: Quick, quick!

So, new band, new album… obviously your next – however long – is going to be nothing but insane amounts of touring. What else do you guys have planned after that?
David: After touring?

Yeah.
David: Well, we do want to do this movie thing. We want to record another record, and we still want to continue to go to every place we can get to and play this music to people. It’s just a lot of running around, a lot of touring.... We’re trying to push ourselves and to push all that we’re about, as far as the internet and all the multimedia stuff we can do. We’re still learning about the new technologies that will sort of present a new way to put on a live show and.... I don’t know. Just, keep on moving forward. I think that’s what everyone wants to do as far as touring and being successful.  [ END ]
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