Rock Docs: Ernie Ball: The Pursuit of Tone - Tom Delonge (2016) - Reviewed

Blink-182 was a band I intentionally passed over in their heyday. While I listened to and still listen to a lot of what was known as “pop punk” (a very deceiving term as most of what we know as “punk” was derived from “pop”), Blink-182 just rubbed the wrong way. They were too sweet, and devoid of any real abrasiveness to me. The band wore their heart on their sleeve, and that is not what an angry mid-twenties male like myself was looking for. From 1998 to 2003 Blink-182 were untouchable. They were the biggest band in the world and this added to my disdain. Yeah, we thought they were sellouts. Oi! Oi! Oi! 

If you follow him, it is really difficult to get your arms around what the then snotty, sideways cap wearing Tom Delonge was, and what he has become. This is by no means a criticism to Tom’s character, the art he creates, and the movements he is a part of. It is just numbing to see the number of dimensions that make up the man that is Tom Delonge. This is not to say I agree with all of the things he puts out there, and some of his eccentricities are unsettling when it comes to his studies and publication on extraterrestrial phenomena. 

Which brings us to The Pursuit of Tone featuring Tom Delonge. Obviously, this is a promotional tool for Ernie Ball, the guitar string company. However, it was pleasing to see that Ernie Ball didn’t take very many liberties as Tom tells his story. The Pursuit of Tone walks us through Tom’s musical career. We get to hear many great stories of how some of Blink-182’s were written. We get to hear about some of the awkward dynamics the band had that led up to their original breakup in 2005. The Pursuit of Tone, while it is more of a promotional platform is directed brilliantly and if you didn’t know, does not look like a promotional type documentary. Very well done. 

What is most important though is that The Pursuit of Tone featuring Tom Delonge really opened me up to the music of Blink-182, Box Car Racer (one of Tom Delonge and Travis Barker’s side projects), and Angels & Airwaves. In another bout of head hanging festive shame, I am late to the train, but better late than never.

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-Scott W. Lambert