Quick Stats: David Kennedy, guitarist, Angels & Airwaves
Daily Driver: 2008 Ford F-150 (David's rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: Chicago to Mount Rushmore to San Diego
Car he learned to drive in: 1972 Volkswagen van
First car bought: 2005 Mini Cooper
When guitarist David Kennedy wasn't on the road with Angels & Airwaves - the multi-platinum alternative rock band he started with friend Tom DeLonge of blink-182 - he was usually on his motorcycle.
For five years Kennedy didn't have a car, but last year he broke down and bought a 2008 Ford F-150. "I've been, 'I don't need a car, I don't need a car. I can get everywhere on a bike,'" Kennedy says. After buying the truck, he adds, "all of a sudden, I was like 'It's really cool.' It was a big deal for me to finally break down and actually get an automobile."
Kennedy gives his silver F-150 an 8 rating. It's handy when hauling his 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R and 2009 KTM 690 Supermoto. "I like that I can load everything I own in my trucks - my bikes, extra wheels. If I need to pop up to San Francisco, I can take pretty everything I own in the truck. That's something I absolutely love. I just realized the other day how dirty it had gotten. But silver seems to be the cure-all of cleanliness. It stays pretty sharp for a long time between cleanings as opposed to black."
He does wish his truck were more efficient. "What I don't like about it is the technology - they're not really doing anything to push the engine forward," he says. "They're doing so many things with all the hybrid stuff. I wish Ford would make a smaller diesel. I was in Indonesia and my friend has a Ford - it's like a Ford Ranger, but it's a diesel truck. That's the coolest thing ever."
For Kennedy, efficiency also means as low profile as possible, small but still effective. He doesn't like the larger pickups. "For me a big 250 or 350 that gets so ginormous, I don't need all that," Kennedy says. "That's when you get into the bigger work trucks and diesels. I'd like a smaller diesel."
When car shopping, Kennedy did look at the Ranger, "but because I like to use the back a lot more, like putting a couple bikes and also my gear for racing, it's nicer to have the bigger bed," he says. "I just have the V-6, it's not great gas mileage at all, but it's still the smaller version."
Last year, the F-150 enabled Kennedy to explore his newfound passion of motorcycle racing. He won his first race at the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club on his Kawasaki and he finds the big track challenging.
"I've been all over California from Thunder Hill, Laguna, Sears Point, out to Vegas, but big Willow is the only one that is that fast," he says. "It makes you better everywhere else, being you're so comfortable seeing things that fast. Streets of Willow is super fun, whereas big Willow is its own thing. It's not been paved in I don't know how long. There are lines and bumps and sealer. Guys that are going fast out there; it's really, really gnarly what they're doing."
Racing at Willow Springs makes other tracks seem easier. "The Willow guys are so comfortable going that fast. If you're OK going 180 miles an hour without even thinking about it, then you can be at Thunder Hill and go into Turn One at 115. You're so used to that, you should be able to perform pretty well everywhere."
Racing was a natural progression for the biker. "When I was a kid I got myself a dirt bike, a KX 250 two-stroke and I crashed a lot." As a big fan of movies like "The Wild One," he then got into café racers. And in 2007 he attended a MotoGP race at Laguna Seca, which he found was an intimidating environment, but it was also inspiring.
"I'm hoping I get into more racing later this year. It's not my day job and that particular hobby you can get really hurt," he laughs.
Car he learned to drive in
Kennedy grew up riding motorcycles like his dad. Although he had the dirt bike, he rode his 1982 P200 Vespa to high school in Poway, California.
"People don't know that it's cool. Like my KTM here, people that know it's cool, think it's cool. For the most part, they look at me like 'Wow, you got a dirt bike, that's really cool, man.' That doesn't really get girls. Mine was so bitchin' too, I'm such an idiot because I sold it because I was young and stupid!" he says of the Vespa.
"My dad's a Harley guy so I used all his Harley guys to do all the body work and paint work," he says. "It was really, really cool. It was pearl white was the body and the cowlings and fairings were candy cobalt blue. The body type was a little bit more of a classic body type, but the paint job was pretty modern."
Kennedy learned to drive in what would be his first car, a cream-colored 1972 Volkswagen van his dad bought. "It had the camper on the top, I've always had this problem with changing stuff, so I took the camper thing off when I was a kid. Then I removed all the stuff inside like the bench seat and the sink so I could either fit a dirt bike or my scooter."
It was an easy transition from motorcycles to the van, which proved to be an interesting first ride. "It felt like you were gliding, so when you engage the pedal or disengage the clutch, it lifts and goes "rooar!" like the suspension releases almost," he says. "It felt like you were floating and then when you're sitting so close at that window, you're just staring at the ground, I felt like you're flying. Even though you're going 40 miles an hour."
First car bought
"The first actual car I bought that wasn't a hand-me-down was a Mini Cooper. I bought it for a girl," he laughs. Although the relationship didn't work out, the 2005 Mini Cooper was a great car.
"At the time she needed a car and got the Mini, which was really cool. Minis are awesome. It wasn't being terribly functional, probably because it was a convertible. I bought her two cars. The Mini Cooper was getting to be where it wasn't big enough," he says. So he bought a Dodge Caliber, which he regrets buying because it was a step down in quality from the Mini.
"Honestly, it was stupid; it was dumb. I don't know what I was thinking, I'm terrible at buying things," Kennedy admits. "She needed some more room. The Dodge was cheaply made. It was just a dumb car. I'm terrible when it comes to cars because I had never really been that into them. I thought it was functional and it had little gadgets and 'Oh, that would be cool!' It just really wasn't."
Kennedy kept his VW van for a long time. "I had that van for a long time, then I fell asleep a couple times and crashed it twice," he says. "That's a public service announcement - you can never get good at that, sleeping while driving. Just so you know. No matter how much you practice."
Favorite road trip
As a rocker, Kennedy is always on the road. He's seen much of this country from rented Ford E-350s. "Growing up playing in bands, getting one of those passenger vans, like the big Ford 15 passenger vans, that was like - you've made it," he says. When starting out, they'd load up their personal cars or trucks and head up the coast to San Francisco and Oregon for gigs.
After seeing Mount Rushmore while on tour, Kennedy wanted to return on a road trip with his dad. "I had been to Mount Rushmore in 1999, I'd been in the van for 26 hours straight coming up from Lawrence, Kansas," he recounts. "We got screwed by Sturgis that motorcycle rally, all the hotels were booked and we had to keep driving. It was a really cool experience getting to see Mount Rushmore at 6:30 a.m. as the sun was coming up. I was like, 'I need to come here on a bike somehow.'"
Kennedy and his dad planned their bike trip around a family event they had in Chicago. "We mapped out some different points, but finally after 10 years of wanting to make it to Mount Rushmore on a bike, I finally made it last year," he says. They rode Harleys from Chicago to Mount Rushmore and then home to San Diego.
Kennedy bought a 1996 Harley-Davidson Dyna Glide just for their road trip. "For the trip I did a bunch of work on it," he says. "I had to go in style." A bit of a gearhead, Kennedy also knows how to work on his truck. "Another guy in the band, Atom (Willard) and I, we lowered the truck."
Angels & Airwaves
Kennedy often gets asked if there is any significance to the name Box Car Racer, the old band he formed with DeLonge on the side. But it was just a name drummer Travis Barker had. "It just had a cool rhythm to it when you said it," he says.
When it came to Angels & Airwaves, Kennedy and DeLonge had a very specific reason for the name. "The band was going to always be themed around infinite possibility and hope and whatever situation you can be in, it's up to you to have a good day," Kennedy explains. "To us that had a very angelic theme, not very religious, but just spiritual and uplifting and for us it was angels. And how we deliver that message and those feelings is through the airwaves."
DeLonge and Kennedy met when they were teenagers because they were both skateboarders. "Within our core group of friends, we all had separate bands. One of the bands happened to be blink-182, I was in a band called Built to Last which was much angrier, a different style," Kennedy says. They started Box Car Racer after DeLonge was in blink-182 for 10 years because both were curious about doing new music.
Box Car Racer broke the mold of what audiences expected from its members. "I was in hardcore bands and Tom was in blink. For me, it was a total jump of getting out of playing in hardcore bands, which was just three chords and screaming, angst driven-young male."
After Box Car Racer, Kennedy had another band and then felt burnt out from the industry. He and DeLonge had breakfast and the intent at first wasn't about starting a band again.
"It was talking about what we wanted out of life and how we wanted to interact with people and our family and friends," Kennedy says. "From that conversation it came about maybe we could start something new that could fulfill all those wants and desires, and that's when Angels & Airwaves came about."
It's hard to believe it's been five years. "Can you believe that? We've been growing steadily," he says. "It's still going to hopefully feel new for a long time."
Angels & Airwaves kicks off its North American tour March 27 in Anaheim. "We invite everyone out to the shows, we guarantee a good time," Kennedy says. The live show will feature music from the band's third studio album, "LOVE," released last month.