Tom DeLonge Says Masturbation Is the Secret to Fast Guitar Playing
Tom DeLonge has revealed his secret to consistently strumming a guitar at lightning speed when playing punk rock — it's masturbation.
That might sound like a punchline to the kind of sophomoric joke the Angels & Airwaves bandleader would make onstage with blink-182, the influential pop-punk act he formed with creative foil Mark Hoppus three decades ago. These days, DeLonge uses such humor to punctuate his interviews with music magazines.
The musician did as much in Guitar World on Thursday (Sept. 9).
"Playing [the guitar] fast is not easy," DeLonge explains. "Especially doing it good and doing it for hours. You want to know the secret? It's all about masturbating. That's the only one way to do it, and if you don't masturbate, you can't play punk rock [laughs]."
More seriously, the rocker says of one of his punk influences, "I grew up as a fan of the Descendents, and their records are still so relevant today — so fast and so riffy. I'd play along to that stuff and try to get better. Thank God for the click track because we used to not have them in blink, and [blink drummer] Travis [Barker] would go into [Mach] 200. I just could not keep up."
Indeed, working with a click or metronome, for DeLonge, "was easier because it tells everyone not to go faster than that [tempo]," he says. "Because my arm can't go any faster and will fall off."
Still, the musician, despite the speedy string picking he's honed, knows where to give credit when it's due. Elsewhere in the chat, he praised his Angels & Airwaves bandmate Ilan Rubin, the drummer who's come to contribute on multiple instruments in the act.
"Ilan is an infinitely better guitar player than I am," DeLonge remarks. "He just shreds — he can play any Beatles, [Led] Zeppelin or Queen song. But he came to a blink show some years ago and was laughing to me afterwards, saying, 'Fuck man, you're really good at that fast picking stuff!'"
DeLonge continues, "I think for the first time I got a little respect from him about my guitar playing, because I could do the one thing he couldn't, which is strum really fuckin' fast. He grew up playing more soulful shit like Zeppelin, and I could never play that stuff. It was his way of saying, 'You got me on that thing!' and I was stoked, thinking to myself, 'Got you, motherfucker!'"
Angels & Airwaves release new album Lifeforms on Sept. 24. DeLonge, also an avid and impactful ufologist, is currently working on his directorial debut.