In no particular order, here is a list of things Tom DeLonge has consistently claimed to believe: UFOs are real, aliens are real and they visit us episodically, the U.S. government has known about alien life for decades, the U.S. government has been actively experimenting with alien technologies, the Nazis were involved in Roswell, the Cold War was actually an international cover-up about extraterrestrial life, there was more to the moon landing than we were told, the mass of nuclear weapons the U.S. has is being held for a war with aliens, human evolution was tampered with by someone or something, and the U.S. government has a real live alien species locked up somewhere.
He used to sound crazy. Here was a dude in a beanie, his left arm inked from wrist to somewhere beneath his graphic tee, best known as the former co-frontman of the rock band Blink-182. In interviews, the words coming out of his mouth made less sense than the 40 “na”s strung together in the chorus of “All the Small Things.” This would have been fine — a creative mind susceptible to wild ideas is hardly unique. Except Tom DeLonge didn’t just have a passing interest or affinity; he was planning a crusade.
In late 2015, months after he announced his departure from Blink-182, Tom DeLonge began reaching out to people in politics who might be able to help him find the truth and share it with the world. Maybe no one would have known he was doing it if he hadn’t been emailing with Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. When her campaign email server leaked in March 2016, though, there was a bundle of emails from Tom DeLonge: sending links, asking Podesta questions about alien life, and trying to set up a meeting between Podesta and an Air Force general to discuss what really happened at Roswell.
He was also dabbling in alien fiction. Sekret Machines Book 1: Chasing Shadows, a novel, came out in April 2016. He has a young adult series called Poet Anderson, a children’s book, and both an alien-inspired album and short film slated to come out later this year. Each of these projects is meant to be grounded in the knowledge DeLonge has acquired through his years of research, like a bite-sized introduction to what he believes is the whole truth. In a YouTube interview with Joe Rogan in October 2017, he said, “The only way to get people to understand what the fuck is going on is to first present them the story [...] and then follow up with the science, and then show them that the [technology] you are seeing can be engineered and created.”
So next comes the science. In October 2017, with over $75,000 cash and more than a million dollars in assets, according to SEC filings, DeLonge launched the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, comprising a group of 10 scientists, aerospace engineers, and creatives. Their aim is to explore the “outer edges of science,” bringing to light ideas unpresented by mainstream discourse, and to try to discover proof of what DeLonge already believes. They’ll also create cultural products like novels and movies to make those ideas more accessible. The plan is something like: film Star Wars, release a documentary explaining hyperdrives and lightsabers, then raise the money to somehow actually build them.
And… maybe you can? In December, two months after the launch of the To The Stars Academy, The New York Times published an article revealing a decade-long, taxpayer-funded Pentagon program that investigated UFOs without the knowledge of the American people. (The Defense Department says it closed in 2012, though some skeptics say that it’s still in existence.) Their big scoop was based off research straight from DeLonge’s foundation. Luis Elizondo, a former Pentagon employee who ran the department and became the story’s main source, was one of the first employees of To The Stars.
Former Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who greenlit the secret Pentagon program for investigating UFOs, supports DeLonge’s cause. “I think what DeLonge helped start is really wonderful,” Reid told The FADER. “I think it’s remarkable that he’s gotten this team together. They’re all scientists with deep experience.”
Suddenly, DeLonge didn’t sound like a man possessed. He sounded like a man who knew something. “I know that it’s fun to make snarky comments, but this isn’t the kind of thing to joke about,” he told the New York Daily News in December. “This is going to really affect a lot of people and a lot of people’s belief systems.” Tom DeLonge might sound crazy to you, but he’s already had one of his claims verified. And there’s no telling what else he believes that isn’t just conspiratorial rambling, but truth.
I know that it’s fun to make snarky comments, but this isn’t the kind of thing to joke about.
This is the story of how Tom DeLonge got very, very serious about aliens.
On the 1999 Blink-182 album Enema of the State, DeLonge co-wrote the song titled “Aliens Exist.” The next year, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said that the track was “about aliens that come to earth and fly up your butt [...] and it’s true,” hence the “enema” in the album’s title. “I’m one of those freaks that really believes that stuff exists,” he wrote in a program for the accompanying tour. “I think if anybody out there does a little bit of research they will find that they side with me.”
In 2000, his Blink-182 bandmate Mark Hoppus told Rolling Stone that Tom “believes anything he reads. You could say, ‘I read in a magazine that an alien landed in Australia. A doctor found him and did an autopsy – there’s footage on the Internet.’ And Tom wouldn’t even question it. He would take it as gospel and go around telling everybody.”
The band gave DeLonge the platform to talk about what he believed and, because he was already famous, a built-in audience. In 2011, the same year Blink released their sixth studio album, he launched his own (now-defunct) website for conspiracy theories called StrangeTimes. In 2012, he went on Larry King to discuss UFOs: “Everyone wants evidence, but no one will take testimony,” a flustered DeLonge told to a UFO skeptic. Of course he was flustered, because at that point, testimony was all he had — that is, until he met his first alien in 2015. Well, maybe heard is a better word for it.
DeLonge was traveling in the desert around Area 51 with some fellow believers filming a documentary about UFOs and government cover-ups. His tired crew drove off-road to find a good place to build a fire, set up a tent, and, hell, maybe try to reach some aliens. That night, when DeLonge awoke to “a chorus of voices — hundreds of people talking around the tent,” he already knew that aliens don’t speak like we do. “They speak on the level of consciousness,” he told George Noory on the late-night radio show Coast to Coast AM, which focuses on the paranormal. When he woke up the next morning, his experience was confirmed: a traveling companion had heard the same thing. (DeLonge denied multiple requests to comment for this piece.)
The experience in the desert affirmed his years of questioning. Years where he had read, by his own count, more than 200 books on the subject. Finally with proof, he quit Blink-182 to focus full-time on UFOs. “I can’t tour nine months out of the year with enough time to do the enormity of what I’m setting out to do,” he told Mic. He sought out Podesta and members of the intelligence community until, by his telling of it, DeLonge was inducted into a metaphorical tent of secrets by the United States government.
Here is what he says happened: One day, out of the blue, an email landed in his inbox. Meet us at the Pentagon at this date and time, it said. DeLonge won’t say who it’s from, but at the emailer’s request, he flew to D.C. and went to the Pentagon. Soon, he was on the phone with United States generals. He was flown to NASA and, in meetings behind closed doors, he met with more people who told him state secrets and guided him to others who could help. At one of these meetings — at an otherwise empty restaurant in an airplane hangar — one of these government sources told the legendary pop-punker “[they] found a life form” during the Cold War.
Tom’s story sounds like a conspiracy theory on steroids. It sounds like the ramblings of a very high man. It sounds like someone you definitely do not want to be your boss. Unless, of course, he’s right.
Sometimes you have to do things like this to do what is necessary: to make sure that the public is getting the information they deserve.
Tom DeLonge’s greatest skill used to be selling records. He’s not a scientist or an engineer, or an intelligence official. He certainly doesn’t have any sort of national security clearance. And yet, he’s supposedly having conversations with generals in hangars, learning secrets that the government (again, supposedly) can’t tell anyone else. Why? Well, Tom Delonge says it’s because he can provide a service that nobody else can: he has a platform they need.
“No one can debate that having conversations at that level is very, very rare,” says Alejandro Rojas, a UFO reporter who runs the International UFO Congress, the largest UFO conference in the United States. “[DeLonge is] able to get people to open up and talk with him. This is a cool guy you want to hang with and you want to be buddies with.” Those conversations and that amiability set him up to recruit a team impressive to almost anyone.
In a span of eight months with To The Stars, DeLonge recruited Jim Semivan, formerly of the CIA; Dr. Hal Puthoff, an esteemed technology scientist; Steve Justice, the former program director for Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs; Chris Mellon, former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in the Clinton and Bush Administrations; and half a dozen other highly qualified, highly esteemed scientists.
“Forgive the cliché,” says Luis Elizondo, who once ran the government’s secret UFO investigation program and is now the To The Stars Director of Global Security & Special Programs, “but this is really a rockstar team.”
Every UFO researcher who spoke to The FADER for this piece agreed: the most unbelievable thing about this whole ordeal is how good DeLonge’s team is. “It might seem odd to some people that Tom DeLonge has built up this impressive team of scientists and former government insiders, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Nick Pope, an author, journalist and TV personality who used to study UFOs for the British government, says. “People do get starry-eyed, especially if your whole career has been about secrecy and silence. A rockstar is the absolute antithesis of that, and so it’s appealing.”
For decades, many aspects of government research — and especially anything having to do with alien life and UFOs — have been kept under a strict lock-and-key of security clearances. The CIA has declassified boxes of documentation dating back to the late 1940s from its own inconclusive investigations into UFO sightings. In 1947, the United States Air Force funded a program called Project Blue Book, which allowed American citizens to call in and report UFO sightings which would then be investigated by the team. A total of 12,618 sightings were reported before the Air Force terminated the program in 1969, and 701 of those remain “unidentified.”
There’s nothing more polar opposite from working in a dark room deep in the Pentagon than having your ideas and discoveries made into blockbuster movies. That’s especially true for Elizondo, whose job was caught in bureaucratic red tape and secrecy for a number of years. He told The FADER that when the funding for the so-called Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program came through in 2013, the verbiage was so unclear that another department took it, leaving him standing guard over his post without being relieved of duty for several years. He kept doing his job, investigating UFOs, but the organizational set-up kept him from being able to communicate his findings with his bosses.
So he wrote a resignation letter and left. “I had to leave the department that I loved so much in order to make sure information reached who it needed to reach,” he says. “Sometimes you have to do things like this to do what is necessary: to make sure that the public is getting the information they deserve.”
The resignation letter was leaked to the press (Elizondo says not by him), and that’s how the news that the government had been operating a secret UFO investigations team got out. A day or two before Elizondo left the department, DeLonge invited him to come work for him. The role presented a big change, even though Elizondo says his mission is the same. “I spent my entire career in the shadows,” he says. “With my past, this [press attention] is not very comfortable. [...] I’m so glad to be a part of this, but I definitely do not like the spotlight in any regard.”
No matter what To The Stars produces, Delonge has said, all of the organization’s efforts will be produced in communication with the Department of Defense. If Delonge is right, it would mean that the U.S. government will be publicly sharing information and ideas through a civilian. That’s the part — not the beliefs, or the ideas, or the plan — that concerns members of the UFO community. “I realized that this was the real deal,” UFO researcher Grant Cameron said in a 2017 interview, when he heard the list of names Tom DeLonge had recruited. “I’m thinking: I’ve seen this before.” The whole thing, Cameron said, reminds him of Bill Moore, the man who made Roswell famous in 1980 with a book relying on top-level government sources.
Cameron, and many others in the UFO community, believe that DeLonge is being used the same way Moore was, as part of the U.S. government’s “disclosure plan.” According to Cameron, “leaking stories is totally a U.S. phenomena,” and he believes that is the U.S. government’s way of allowing the public to know some information about extraterrestrial life. “They’re leaking the story, but they’re protecting the classified material.” And DeLonge, Cameron said, “is gonna make globs of money at the same time.”
But thus far, that’s not really true. To The Stars is set up as a public-benefit corporation, meaning that they are not exclusively trying to reap a profit and will be directed at the will of their shareholders to achieve a purpose, in this case studying UFOs. To The Stars is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to do research. As of publication, it has raised $2,392,022 with 2,606 investors. That’s 1/100th of the $200 million dollars they’re aiming for. But even if they meet that goal, it will still only be a beginning. A single F-35 stealth fighter costs around $100 million to make, and people already know how to build that.
Doubters of alien life and UFO existence, of course, are not going to be jazzed about DeLonge’s venture, but there are many who hope DeLonge triumphs. Plenty of American citizens seem open to discussions about alien life and discovery. A 2017 survey done by 20th Century Fox supposedly found that nearly 47% of Americans believe in aliens, and 39% believe aliens have visited earth before. The audience is there. The money just isn’t, at least yet. “I hope the Koch brothers would fund this rather than all the worthless stuff they do,” Senator Reid told The FADER.
In October 2016, DeLonge was a celebrity whose spastic emails to a campaign manager had leaked into the public domain. In October 2017, when To the Stars was announced, it was easy to dismiss the whole thing as a rockstar-funded vanity project. But in December, he was the president and CEO of a company that’s existence revealed a decade-long covert government UFO operation. DeLonge has a slew of out-there beliefs, but six months ago one of those beliefs was the existence of Elizondo’s program. And as of now, it’s completely unclear which of DeLonge’s beliefs are based on his own personal study and what other secrets he actually knows.
“[Our] success is reliant on the American people,” Elizondo says. “If they want us to be successful, I think we’ll flourish. If the American people decide it’s too fringe, I think the future is bleak. But I tend to be an optimist.”
Tom Delonge photo via Getty/C Flanigan / Contributor. Asteroid and comet imagery courtesy Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech; Farmer Trent’s Flying saucer, Life Magazine, 26 June 1950 courtesy Wikimedia Commons