Sound — 9
Probably the most satisfying and unexpected part of Angels & Airwaves' new DVD Start The Machine is the show of humility from vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge. A few years back when the band released its debut album, you might recall DeLonge likened We Don't Need To Whisper to the second coming of Christ. By the time Start The Machine ends, however, it's obvious that DeLonge has a few regrets and it was merely his passion for the project that spurred the over-the-top (even if tongue-in-cheek) comments. Plenty of bands have released DVDs that deliver a solid live performance or a general biography, but Start The Machine gives an in-depth studio look at the making of We Don't Need To Whisper. Even if Angels & Airwaves' music doesn't click with you, the DVD still conveys something that every musician with a demo or full-length CD can relate to: frustration in getting the perfect sound. We Don't Need To Whisper was obviously DeLonge's baby and the DVD does clearly show him stewing away for hours on end over a riff or a lead. The other members aren't cut out of the spotlight, however, and each is given his own chapter dedicated to what they brought to the album. Musically, you get to watch as ideas like the U2-esque guitar parts of The Adventure take shape (which apparently was spawned when DeLonge decided to forgo a Foo Fighters' concert in order to continue working on material). Even more interesting is the involvement of the band's engineer, Critter, who developed several beats by recording random noises in the room (think file cabinets closing and jingling tool boxes). It all makes for a very interesting viewing experience, particularly if you're looking for a few tricks of the trade in the studio.
Content — 9
If you are hoping for some videos and/or live performances, there are a few concert clips (The Gift, The Adventure, and The War) included in the main feature. They are edited in with various band commentaries, so you'll have to wait for the bonus features for straight music. Along with more behind-the-scenes content, the bonus features includes 2 videos and 4 short films, which are essentially more dramatic music videos with some very cool imagery. It's actually the main feature's insight into the studio that ends up being the most original aspect about Start The Machine.
Production Quality — 10
Much like We Don't Need To Whisper (and the follow up, I-Empire), the DVD is slick and beautifully edited. The band seems to be throwing its heart into the world of multimedia, and it's both novel and smart. Visually, Start The Machine is extremely watchable and sets the bar high for production quality. It's also a bit of a preview to AVA's next big project, a feature film called I-Empire (a trailer for the film is featured).
Overall Impression — 9
Tom DeLonge has made a name for himself in the news over the years, and it's not always because of the most positive things (the controversial Blink 182 breakup, comparing his music to the second coming). This DVD could have been a bad move on paper, but DeLonge does himself (and his band) a great service by coming clean about his regrets, his relationship with former Blink 182 bandmates, and his vision for music in general. There's a passion in DeLonge that is very evident in Start The Machine, and that is something you don't always see in the flurry of rockers with I-don't-give-a-shit attitudes. You come out seeing that We Don't Need To Whisper was indeed a labor of love, and for those who were staunch supporters Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus, DeLonge's point of view is brought a little more out into the open.