With all the Blink 182 news going on this week, I figured today was the perfect time to tell the story about the time I met Tom Delonge.
This happened in 2006. Angels and Airwaves had recently released their debut album "We Don't Need To Whisper" and were on tour opening for Taking Back Sunday. I hadn't planned on going to the show (because I was broke at the time), but my cousin, Julianne had an extra ticket and gave it to me. The show was at The Reliant Arena (formerly the Astro Arena and Currently the NRG Arena). Which is a really random place for a band to play, it's basically in a giant parking lot next to the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium. The building itself is huge, with a staged section in the center.
Before the show we ran into some dude my cousin Stephanie (Julianne's sister) knew who worked at a skate shop in the mall. Somehow this guy had gotten a backstage pass and was bragging about it. Just the look of this guy annoyed me, so the fact that he had a backstage pass made it even worse.
I didn't care about seeing Taking Back Sunday, so after Angels and Airwaves played I decided to walk to the Burger King that was on the other side of the parking lot to get some food. Stephanie also decided she would rather eat the world's worst fast food burger than see Taking Back Sunday too, so we left.
The Burger King was across the street from the giant Reliant Area parking lot (Past the section labeled Blue Lot behind the exit.) We tried to exit that way, but that whole area was blocked off, so we left through the main entrance and walked towards Section D. We saw some kids waiting by a random door over there, so we decided to stop and ask them what was going on. For some reason they were under the impression that Tom Delonge was going to walk out that door any second. We realized they were idiots and kept walking.
After we rounded Section D we had to walk over a bunch of parking cones. The entire back section of the parking lot was blocked off, which seemed weird until I thought about the geography of the building. The Blue Parking Lot was directly behind the stage, it was passed the blocked off area inside. Steph and I walked around the building until we reached the yellow exit area on the map. It looked exactly like the front of the building, a long row of glass doors. We didn't see any security around, just a dude outside smoking. I thought to myself, there is no way those doors are just unlocked. Then, home boy put out his cigarette and pulled open the door. Steph and I decided Burger King could wait.
We went to the same door and pulled it open, there was no security, in fact there was nobody around. We walked in quick and acted like we were supposed to be there. By this time Taking Back Sunday was playing so nobody was paying attention to us. We started walking around looking for Tom. The door we had seen the group of kids waiting at opened to a big room where the bands busses were parked. Good look seeing Tom come out that door, kids. We walked around for a while, Tom was nowhere to be seen, but we had one place left to check. There was a second floor.
We walked up the stairs and were in the lobby Area. The Stockman's club Section had cafeteria style seating, one guy was over there, and it wasn't Tom. Then we noticed a small group of kids standing in the middle of the lobby staring into the open door of Section 3. It was the mall guy and his mall friends. he looked pretty shocked to see us back there. We went over and stood with his group, since they had passes it seemed like the best place to be. Then we found out why they were standing there, section 2 and 3 was the dressing room for the bands. There was a sign on the door that said "Angels and Airwaves dressing room." Standing outside the door like an idiot was not enough for me, I looked at Steph, "Well, we made it this far." She agreed, we told the mall kids we were going in, they didn't follow.
From their spot outside they couldn't see anything because the only light in the room came from a big screen tv and a couple lamps. Section 2 and 3 are one big room, the TV was hooked up to a game system and there were a couple guys on a couch playing. I was looking to see if any of them were Tom before somebody saw us and threw us out. Then I saw him, he was right in front of me in Section 3. He was standing by himself, in the dark, looking out a big window, at a dark empty parking lot. He must have seen our reflection in the glass because he turned around as we approached him.
I don't remember how we greeted each other, because I was so excited to be meeting Tom Delonge. The first thing I remember telling him was how much I loved Blink 182's Dude Ranch album. He thanked me and we talked about it for a little bit before he asked me how I liked the Angels and Airwaves record. After a few minutes a big black dude started to walk over towards us, but Tom waved him off. "My security guy was about to take you guys out." I told him how we had snuck backstage, then upstairs, then into his dressing room. He was fine with it.
Then he started asking us how we liked the show. I had told him I was a little disappointed that they hadn't played "A Little's Enough" and before we knew it, he stared singing the chorus. We kept talking about the show and he seemed genuinely interested in our feedback. I told him I had really liked the lighting, it was the first show I had ever been to where I remember actually paying attention to how cool the lighting was. Again, he seemed really happy to hear that. I didn't have a camera phone at the time, and even if I did, the lack of light in the room would have ruined the picture, but I wanted to have some proof that this was actually happening. All I had on me was the computer printed ticket from the show. I asked Tom if he would sign it. He called his security guy over and asked for a Sharpie. I told him "You can write something retarded on it if you want. I'm not really sure what that even means, but Tom came through. He signed it "El Retardo."
We kept chatting with him, told him we were cousins when he asked if we were dating, he told us about his large family and tons of cousins he had never met. Then Julianne started calling Stephanie. Taking Back Sunday was still playing, but one of her friends had to be home by a certain time, and since we had all ridden together, she wanted to know where we were. We ignored the call and kept talking to Tom. Then she called again. Steph answered the phone and Julianne started yelling about how she didn't know where we were and her friend had to be home, it was so loud that Tom and I could hear her. Tom took the phone from Stephanie, listened for a few seconds and said "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Shut the F@#K up!" She hung up on him. She had no idea who it was, she didn't even know what we had been up to.
We told Tom we should probably go, he gave us both hugs, I kissed him on the top of his head. Why, because...have you ever kissed Tom Delonge, that's why! He started walking out with us and offered us food from a long table full of food. He grabbed a banana, I took a Powerade, because when Tom Delonge offers you a drink, you take it! The mall kids with their backstage passes were still waiting at the door when we left.
We got back to the car, Julianne was pissed, followed by shocked when we told her who she was yelling at on the phone.