I’ve got to be honest with you, even though Angels & Airwaves have been one of my favourite bands since I was a teenager, whenever Tom DeLonge would about them being “a transmedia storytelling experience” I’d role my eyes a little. After all, they’d been promising a feature film since the realease of their second album, I-Empire. Though I of course appreciated that it’s incredbily difficult to make a film I didn’t think one feature film was enough to adopt the label of a “multimedia art project”. LOVE was critically-acclaimed upon its eventual release and I personally liked it very much but even so I didn’t expect the band to attempt such an ambitious project again (at least not for another couple of albums).
You can imagine my surprise when I found out that their next project would be one of this magnitude. As well as The Dream Walker album (schedualed for release on December 9th) the band have also announced plans for animations, a comic book series, a big budget, live-action feature film and even a novel – written by New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young (not quite sure how they swung that one).
The first of these projects will be the animated short “Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker”, which will be released alongside the album in December. The trailer for the short film was released last week and it looks, quite simply, terrific. The world of Poet Anderson looks and feels like the kind of thing I’d dream up as a kid and this had made it impossible to maintain my usual cynicism towardsDeLonge’s aspirations for AvA to become “more than just a band”. I was so astounded by how good POET looks that I ended up doing a little research to learn just how they managed it and found this useful snippet of information from Cartoon Brew:
“The evident production values in the trailer make it all the more surprising that no commercial studio was involved in the production of the film. Poet Anderson was directed by twin brothers from Portugal—Sergio and Edgar Martins—who pulled together a small team of friends and produced the entire film independently through Tom DeLonge’s management company To the Stars. […] The Martins, using concept art by Mike Henry as a starting point, created Poet Anderson with a blend of hand-drawn Flash and CG (Blender for modeling and XSI for animation).”
Angels and Airwaves last album, LOVE Part II, never ended up growing on on me in the same way as the first LOVE album did. It felt routine and uninspired, even recycling meolodies from some older songs and so I’ve been hoping that Tom would take the songwriting in another direction this time around. I kind of got my wish with the first single from the album will be Paralyzed, a song which might feel more at home with Box Car Racer or on Blink’s Neighbourhoods album than an AvA record. I appreciate that there’s of course going to be similarities between bands with the same songwriter but new direction or not I still want AvA to sound like AvA, first and foremost. The Wolfpack went some way to alleviating my fears on this front but nothing can come close to my excitement for the song featured on the Poet Anderson trailer itself: epic and grandious and still tangibly AvA but with that little extra spark of magic they had on the first three albums.
And if even half of what I’ve read about AvA’s newest member and Tom’s new songwriting partner Ilan Rubin is true then we may be in for a very special album:
The difference in the songwriting is, just like all the artists that are involved on this project, I have a teammate [in Ilan Rubin] writing the songs for the first time, so you’ll notice quite a big jump in the songwriting and a much more mature, much more complex [nature] that I think lends itself to the ambition of the entire project.
I suppose I’ll have to wait and find out in December. But even on the off-chance that the new album doesn’t click with me – it looks like there’ll be plenty of other ways to enjoy the world of Poet Anderson.