contacted us which was kinda strange," begins Jade, commenting
on the Awards tour show. "They'd never mentioned us in their magazine
and all of a sudden they were asking us to headline one of their main
nights. I think they're stuck because our show sold out before any of
the other shows. They realise now! The UK before even the American press
caught on to us. Even the BBC and MTV were really there before the American
press was. NME wasn't, but I mean what can you do? Not everyone can
be there at the beginning."
only a handful of performances in the UK over the last few years anyone
other than the avid fan knowledgeable of the event prior to it being
announced, was confronted by somewhat of a brick wall if attempting
to obtain tickets for the Astoria show. Despite this, with a UK tour
expected following the release new LP 'Sing The Sorrow' what can those
new to AFI expect from any given live performance? Happy to offer some
kind of guide Jade reveals. "We have always been firm believers
in putting on a really energetic and dynamic show. Coming from the punk
and hardcore scene I've never really understood bands that just go up
there and act really bored. You might as well just sit at home and listen
to their CD and look at a picture of them if they're just going to stand
there. That's why they call it a show. We try to do something visually
entertaining, we try to both have an energy and put on a show. Our fans
get really involved, they know all the lyrics and so they're as much
part of the show as we are. It's that whole interchange."
10th in the UK marked AFI's jump from Nitro Records into the depths
of the music mainstream with the release of 'Sing The Sorrow' through
Dreamworks. Marking another leap in AFI's creative output the album
is far from 'The Art of Drowning' Part 2, their critically acclaimed
previous LP. Upon making this statement Jade is quick in wishing to
express the importance of that opinion. "The thing about us is
that anyone who is a true fan of our music wouldn't be content with
'The Art of Drowning' Part 2. Literally every album AFI has put out
has been different, and each gets drastically more different, starting
with 'Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes' to 'Black Sails In The Sunset.'
People that are fans of our band know that it's an integral part of
our music. It's going to change. It's going to grow and you're never going
to get 'Black Sails
' Part 2 or 'The Art of Drowning' Part 2. Anyone
who is disappointed doesn't really understand AFI."
too often bands in AFI's position, making the jump from punk independent
to mainstream major, receive a certain degree of scrutiny for their
decision. This however usually amounts to little more than professional
jealously at the opportunity to sign to a major record label. Jade is
quick to detail the more important possibilities that have become open
to the band since their move to Dreamworks.
"One of the key problems was distribution. People couldn't get
our records. In the UK it's been fairly easy but in mainland Europe,
Australia and Japan you couldn't find them at all, except on expensive
import. When we've tour Japan no-one has our records and that's a big
problem, we can't even get to Australia. Promoters don't want to bring
you over there if nobody has your records. That was the main thing;
the whole distribution was just not getting off the ground. Then general
resources. Just being able to go into the studio and not have to settle
for, 'well this part is not very good but we don't have the time or
money to sit here and make it better'. Just being able to make the kind
of album you want to make finally."
So would it be fair to say you've been trying to advance things in the
past but restraints at Nitro were limiting you?
"Certainly, but it's no knock on them. That was one of the reasons
why we went to a major because Dexter (Nitro Records/Offspring) basically
said that to us. Nitro only has a limited amount of resources. We reached
the point where we needed to go on to a new place."
first for the band was the choosing to enlist the producing expertise
of arguably A-list producers. The co-produced 'Sing The Sorrow' saw
Butch Vig, drummer in Garbage and producer of Nirvana's 'Nevermind',
and Jerry Finn, producer of Rancid's '
And Out Come The Wolves'
working together with AFI. As conversation moves into further discussion
about the new album a sense of happiness in working with such producers
is still evident in Jade's voice. "We had a wish list of producers
and they were at the top," he begins. "We would have been
so happy for either one of them alone but then mysteriously all of a
sudden it happened we were trying to get both of them. We never thought
it would work. They had never co-produced, so when it worked out it
was a dream situation. A once in a lifetime chance to get two producers
of their magnitude to work together. It's not like one worked on half
the album and one worked on the other. They were both in the studio
with all of us. It was like a dream team."
who else was on AFI's producing wish list? Questioning Jade further
familiar names begin to surface. "Earlier on in the process, we
talked about Flood, who produced U2 and some of the later Smashing Pumpkins
stuff." Adding Nine Inch Nails main man Trent Reznor into the equation
in relation to Flood, Jade instantly jumps in. "Trent Reznor! That
would be amazing to have him produce something. There wasn't that many.
There are so few good producers."
Working with individuals so experienced within their field can only
have opened new doors for AFI.
"This band has been around for a long time, we know what we're
doing," hints Jade. "I had all the songs written by the time
we went into the studio. They (Vig/Finn) knew we had the musical side
of it nailed down. What they brought in was taking the songs we had
written and making them sound as good as they could when they were recorded."
music written prior to the band entering the studio, a certain degree
of strict preparation and productivity within the recording environment
surrounds AFI. Discovering this leads nicely to quite where 'Sing The
Sorrow' was written. Happy to discuss this further Jade continues, "Actually
a lot was written in my room. I'll just sit in my room with my guitar
and come up with songs and call up Dave (Havok). We used to all live
in the same house, which was nice cause he lived on the floor below
me. I'd just go 'Dave come up here, I've got a song.' Now we live about
10 minutes apart. 'Girls Not Grey' was the last song I wrote. We were
almost done writing for the record then I decided to go to Toronto it
to get away, I wrote that song in Toronto. One of the other songs, one
part was written in Glasgow, one part in Belgium, and one part on the
Warped Tour in America. I don't really get directly influenced by bands.
A lot of bands might hear a part of a song and write a part like that.
For me it's more like everything."
Pausing, Jade turns and stares out across a miserable overcast London
skyline before continuing, "If I went out walking on a day like
this that would inspire me to write a song, far more than listening
to a band. I like to read poetry a lot and write. It's art in music
and poetry and atmosphere that really influences our music more than
AFI seeming very much a partnership between guitarist Jade and vocalist/lyricist
Davey Havok I was interested in delving further into the way in which
AFI songs are born and developed.
"It's always been, since I've been in this band, that the music
comes first," states Jade. "I'll write the music and Dave
and I will work together on the melody and then he'll put lyrics to
it. Some bands may work the other way around where it's lyrics first
but that seems such an obscure way. I mean lyrics can't exist without
Without wanting to argue I offer the opinion that surely lyrics can
exist in a poetic form without music. Pausing to consider this view
he continues. "Yeah I guess lyrics can exist as poetry, but few
people's lyrics can stand on their own as poetry. I think Dave is one
of those people. If you just read his lyrics they're very poetic, but
we've always worked the other way around."
first single to be lifted from 'Sing The Sorrow' is the excellent 'Girl's
Not Grey.' In many aspects a clear progression from where 'The Art of
Drowning' concluded, it's obvious in Jade's voice how passionate both
himself and the band are about their new LP.
"All the songs on the album we really love," he begins. "Distilled
from so many to those twelve we wouldn't have cared which of those songs
came out as a single, but that song's got a kind of good mixture. It's
got a lot of melody but it's also more up-tempo. It seemed a good representation
of the album. This album is so eclectic it's got everything from really
fast hard to really melodic slow so it's hard to have one song be a
major. It's as good a major as any."
further strides away from their hardcore punk routes, 'Sing The Sorrow'
is the band's most diverse to date, seeing AFI explore new avenues and
sounds. Upon listening, it instantly raises the question, is this is
the shape of things to come from AFI and in what directions will things
progress in the future?
Offering a few hints and likely possibilities, Jade is quick to comment
on the electronic aspects of their music. "I did all the electronic
stuff on the record. My main hobby outside of the band is making electronic
music; it's something I really enjoy. I think people think that because
of Butch Vig being in Garbage he did a lot of it. It's always scary
to bring that stuff in there because it's so foreign to this kind of
music. I now really wish I'd done a little more. The song 'Death Of
Seasons' has the EBM breakdown. I mainly use it in an atmospheric sense,
as a kind of added layer or another texture. I love to make electronic
music. I'd like to experiment, maybe more, you never know. We never
know what an album's going to be like until it's done. We set no goals
for ourselves. Dave and I, all we listen to is electronic music, we
hardly listen to any music with guitars in."
time creeping on AFI drummer Adam Carson briefly appears from a joining
room, before exiting into the main hotel. Posted on their web site during
the beginning of the 2003 members of AFI detailed brief listening lists
for the past year. Discussing further Jades fascination with electronic
music the diversity of his tastes are apparent with the likes of Godspeed
You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros and Muse sitting along side lesser know
names including Assemblage 23 and Covenant. No matter how little or
exaggerated, every band has a manifesto. Turning to Jade I finally ask
what he hopes listeners can take away from 'Sing The Sorrow', any AFI
release or live show. Again pausing for thought he offers a concluding
opinion. "I'd be happy if they just took away an enjoyment of the
music and the lyrics. That's what we're doing it for. We're trying to
make music that we think is great and that other people can enjoy. Maybe
they'll get the idea of our aesthetic, the kind of despair, dark and
more serious side of humanity, life and music that we try to explore."
With a passionate following already exploring this aesthetic, ready
or not AFI have begun to launch their assault into the mainstream, quite
rightly demanding attention.
Visit www.afireinside.net for more