■ The ex-Blink-182 frontman, 44, talks about the paranormal, his former bandmates and trying to win over the CIA
How have you been over the past few months?
Man, I’m doing OK. The United States got its ass handed to it by the Covid virus, more so than a lot of places, but I don’t have a lot to complain about. I’ve been focusing on making the new album [with band Angels & Airwaves] even better and I’m moving into production on my directorial debut, a movie I wrote that the album is a part of. It’s the most ambitious art piece I’ve done yet.
All that and there’s your documentary series on UFOs as well. Which project is most fulfilling?
Without a doubt my company, To The Stars… Academy Of Arts And Sciences. Talking to people from the Department of Defence and the CIA, to be connected to what the US government is doing on UFOs and have a say in how we work out this problem and talk about it. It’s hard because we’re a young company dealing with a subject not everyone understands but it’s the most wonderful ride. It matters so much more than any movie, album or tour. This is changing the world.
As the guy who used to get naked in pop videos, was it hard to get high-ranking officials to take you seriously?
The meetings weren’t good at first. These guys are so smart and with very high security clearances but they work in the shadows on highly classified projects, they’re not communicators. People know me because of Blink-182, they know there’s nothing intimidating there. I grew up a skateboarder in suburbia, I’ve always been anti-establishment. So I could build a bridge.
And what about the wider public?
People need to open their minds and not bring along any science fiction, conspiratorial stigma. That’s just immaturity and insecurity. If people take a deep breath, listen and think, we’ll do just fine.
When did you first become interested in UFOs?
I had an hour to kill in seventh grade so I went to the library for something that wasn’t a boring school book. I found this book of paranormal stuff, the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs. It was fun and mysterious, like a movie, and it ignited something in me. When we signed to a major label I bought a computer with the first $1,000 I got, to go online and do real research. I did that for years, read hundreds of books on tour with Blink and I was hooked.
Hooked enough to leave the band?
Right. I left the band having just played to 100,000 at Reading and Leeds. Who would leave all that to chase something that’s not true? Well, I would — but only if it was true, only if I knew it could help the world and I was getting a chair at the table. So here I am.
Have you seen a UFO with your own eyes?
No, but these things can travel invisibly to the naked eye either because they’re travelling too fast or they bend the light around themselves. I bought expensive night-vision equipment and spent every night scanning the heavens. One night I saw this thing arc the entire horizon, zig-zagging, within about three seconds. It was extremely high, about at the height of satellites, but manoeuvring in ways I couldn’t believe. So who knows?
Could you see Donald Trump or Joe Biden addressing all this?
Potentially. My company has been instrumental in setting up briefings for Congress and getting stuff over to the White House. When Trump went on the news with his son, someone brought up [‘UFO’ incident] Roswell and he said, ‘I’ve got to think about that.’ I thought that was strange. A guy who seemingly says whatever he wants to say was guarded about this subject? I wonder if they told him some of the things I know.
Are songs like All The Small Things a blessing or a curse?
Oh, I love it. The only curse with Blink is that people want to make conspiracies about how we don’t like each other or why I’m not in the band any more. That’s not how it is, I talk to the guys all the time. But I’m involved in something with global ramifications, something I believe will achieve good for the planet at the exact time it’s needed, and Blink’s a monster — if you do that, that’s all you do. But Blink has been the biggest blessing in my life. The only reason I’m here is because of Blink.
What was the biggest pinch-me moment in the band?
The first week of Christmas sales in 1997, after our second album [Dude Ranch] had come out. We were used to selling a couple of hundred albums a week but one day I got a call that we’d sold 40,000 that week. I screamed like I was on my first roller-coaster. I would never have suspected we’d go on to sell what we did. That week I’d done everything I’d dreamed about since junior high.
■ Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on Sky History