TOTP: Are you happy for Angels And Airwaves to be referred to as a supergroup?
Tom: Oh, God! I worked as hard as I could to not have this even be a supergroup of any sorts. The last thing in the world that I wanted was anything about this being, just, marketing value, y'know? I actually had people calling me from bands who've sold millions of records, but I wasn't into it. I needed this to be a very organic thing because of the message and because of what it is we're trying to accomplish.
TOTP: We've seen Angels & Airwaves abbreviated down to AVA. How does that work?
Tom: Well the V is actually an upside-down A, it's three As. But my daughter's name is Ava, so I loved the idea that it somehow mapped up with my daughter's name. I've always loved the geometry of three triangles like that, y'know. I'm very much an armchair architect [dissolves into laughter]. But if people don't want to believe that the middle letter is an A, and they ask what the V is for, I say it's for Victory.
TOTP: So, the angels have victory over the airwaves?
Tom: Ha! I think so...
TOTP: You're probably really happy with who's who in your band, but be honest, there's definitely people who are better, but have other jobs, or are dead. Who'd be in your dream supergroup?
Tom: Jeez, I'm gonna have to grab...Peter Gabriel, Bono and Robert Smith, probably.
TOTP: Wow! I did NOT expect that answer...
Tom: Why, who'd you think it would be?
TOTP: I was guessing that somewhere down the line you'd pick John Bonham (Led Zeppelin's drummer)...
Tom: Oh yeah, Bonham...I guess I need a drummer, huh? Er, yeah, he'd probably be pretty perfect for this.
TOTP: Who'd you get in on bass?
Tom: Well, Robert Smith. He plays a six-string bass though, so it's kind of half-way to guitar.
TOTP: And is Peter Gabriel the lead singer?
Tom: I dunno, he might just be in charge of the theatrical element! [laughs]
TOTP: How does one go about recruiting for a supergroup? Do you go through your CDs and pick members of bands you already like?
Tom: No, it was very much like starting a normal band, y'know? David, I played in a band called Box Car Racer with him. Ryan was in the Distillers in San Diego and David knew him. And Atom grew up down the street from David, so it's very much like a normal band coming together. But there's a lot of experience in this band, so we can't really call it our first album, y'know?
TOTP: Is it a good idea to go for people whose previous bands sound broadly similar? Or try and get as wide a range of influences as possible?
Tom: We're trying to create a new sound, a new style of music, based on 40 years of our favourite bands' existance. And we definitely try to be as diverse as we can but we really wanted to have our band identified with a particular message and a sound, and that being something that's very universally atmospheric and futuristic in nature.
TOTP: Is there a minimum level of fame someone should have when applying for the post of supergroup member? One hit album? One hit single? One good review in Kerrang!?
Tom: No, they just can't be as handsome as I. That is the only rule, you can't be better looking than me or you're out!
TOTP: Is there a pecking order in a supergroup that the person with the biggest former band is in charge?
Tom: No, no. I would have to say that I'm very much the captain of the team, but it is a team effort. It has to be because if you want longevity, there has to be a mutual respect and everyone has to be working toward the same goal. You can't let ego get involved.
TOTP: In our experience, if you want a sensible answer during an interview you should ask the drummer. Is that something you consciously look for when you're hiring one?
Tom: Ha ha! You know Atom's a pretty smart, sensible dude, actually, but you've gotta think about it, they beat things for a living. I don't know how evolved those people are.
TOTP: This is years of working with Travis Barker speaking, yes?
Tom: Yeah, but he's probably the greatest drummer in the world, but he never said a thing in interviews [laughs].
TOTP: As proven by the White Stripes, the bass guitar is very much music's Sam Gamgee, reliable, solid, a bit thick, and not all-together necessary. What does that say about bass guitarists?
Tom: Yeah, well, bass guitar is very much the foundation of a song, right above the drums, and if you don't have it, you'll miss it extraordinarily. It's definitely the butt of a lot of jokes, but if used correctly it can be a force to be reckoned with.
TOTP: A wise answer. Very...er...I can't remember the name of the wizard in the Lord of the Rings suddenly...
TOTP: GANDALF! A very Gandalfian answer.
Tom: [Laughs] Everything I say is very Gandalf...
TOTP: In a band with two guitarists, does the one with the smallest 'stack' get 'amp envy'?
Tom: Ha ha! No, but it's really great having a second guitarist for the first time in my life really - besides Box Car Racer. But now I get to concentrate on singing half the time and it's a bit like walking and chewing gum, you have to concetrate to do both at the same time, so I'm quite happy about it.
TOTP: Have you ever pretended to turn your amp down when asked to, rather than actually turn your amp down?
Tom: [Laughs] I've done that SO often in the past 13 years with my last band, they'd always tell me to turn my amp down, and I'm like "yeah, totally" and I never would!
TOTP: Is there a weird anti-climactic moment when you've got your supergroup together, you're all in a room for the first time, someone yells "1,2,3,4!" and you play, and it sounds like cack?
Tom: Oh man, that's part of being in a band. Every single band has had that problem, even the best bands in the world. If you watch that Metallica movie ('Some Kind Of Monster'), it shows them writing songs and things fall apart quite easily, even with a band as incredible as that. So I'm sure it's very, very common.
TOTP: Do you spend your 'down-time' sitting about with 'the guys' making bitchy jokes about the lead-singers in all of your former bands?
Tom: Errr, No. You know what though? We do have our 'takes' once in a while, and it definitely brings us closer together. There's a camaradarie in past experience, but we pretty much look towards the future. We're pretty happy.
TOTP: Spoken like a true lead singer. What are they doing now?
Tom: They're talking about ME!
TOTP: Finally, do super-groups have super-groupies?
Tom: [Whistles through teeth] We do. So far they seem to be pretty good-looking, so I think we're on to something here...
TOTP: Do they have powers?
Tom: Yes, they fly and they solve crimes.
- Fraser M (BBC.co.uk/TOTP)