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Interview: AFIBy: Justin Crites on: Tue 09 of Mar., 2010 11:10 EST (7213 Reads)
AFI An Exclusive Interview with Davey Havok of AFI Written by: Justin Crites
AFI is known for their ruthless live performances with an unrivaled culture that continues to inspire their fans and audiences alike. They have just returned from performing in Australia and plan to take on the East Coast with their latest album and headlining tour, Crash Love. Fans will certainly be impressed by AFI’s work ethic and musical innovations as well as the news of an upcoming release from their successful side project, Blaqk Audio. With passion erupting from his soul, Davey Havok puts down the microphone and gives REAX an intimate look on production, lyrics, Guitar Hero 5, record labels and his varying appearance.
REAX: AFI shows are considered epic. What can fans expect as they nervously await AFI to take the stage?
DAVEY HAVOK: Were very passionate about what we do both on and off the stage and our live performances are generally pretty energetic and if not energetic, very, very, emotional and very passionate. We take the energy that we feel when creating music and we put it into a live performance, and that translates to an energy that is created by the crowd and what it becomes is an exchange of energy between both...and that’s what people can expect.
REAX: Congratulations on releasing your eighth studio album entitled, Crash Love. It’s a great album and was produced by Grammy award winner’s Joe McGrath who has worked with Against Me! and Green Day, as well as Jacknife Lee who has also worked with U2? and Weezer. After 19 years of recording music what type of sound was AFI trying to achieve this time with Crash Love?
DAVEY HAVOK: Sonically speaking, we were looking for something that was both straight forward and powerful. The Crash Love record was less layered and more representative of a more classic rock sound than what we’ve done in the past. We were looking for people to help us achieve that while understanding who we are and what we do. Joe and Jacknife were very great at doing just that.
REAX: Your Album bio states that this is the first album that features prevalent sociopolitical and observational perspectives. Could you give us some insight on that statement and what took you in that direction?
DAVEY HAVOK: It’s not the first ever, but it’s the first in a while that has really gone down that road. With this album, as with every album, when I’m writing words and I’m writing what I feel to be poignant at the time, and what is important to me… I think that the crash in art culture that we're experiencing currently is so obvious and so impassible that it just naturally came through as the majority of what I was writing about on this record.
REAX: The singles off the new album are thus far, “Medicate,” and more recently, “Beautiful Thieves,” a strikingly dark yet uplifting thematic composition. The lyrics state, “Oh, we can burn it and leave, for we are the beautiful thieves/no one suspects at all/No one suspects.” My question to you Davey is who or what are you’re stealing in this life?
DAVEY HAVOK: Well (laughs), really it is whatever, whoever, the voice of the first person wants to steal…There’s a complete lack of responsibility that needs to be taken for that act. Not only is there a lack of responsibility there, not necessarily a lack of judgment, but there’s oftentimes irreverence bestowed upon for their actions, and they are admired rather than decried for what they do.
REAX: There’s a surprising vocal section in that song that adds a powerful element and almost sounds like a choir. Is this an influence of gospel, or perhaps a dark gospel?
DAVEY HAVOK: Um, no. I wouldn’t say directly, not consciously at the very least. It was just an element of the song that we thought really called for that sort of grand glorious vocals and we inserted it.
REAX: AFI has jumped from many record companies since its genesis such as Wingnut, Nitro and DreamWorks. How has it been working with Interscope?
DAVEY HAVOK: We are very lucky to be working with Luke Wood at Interscope Records and that is a pleasure. The reason that we signed to DreamWorks was in great part due to his involvement with the band. It was certainly a huge factor in us deciding to go to DreamWorks being able to work with Luke who is just a great music guy and really understands us. We were a little worried when we found out that DreamWorks got purchased by Interscope because we had signed to DreamWorks instead of Interscope as well as a few other labels, but we were very relieved when we found out that Luke Wood was going to be one of two people in the entire company that were making the move over with the rest of the label. We have been working with him ever since. It’s just really a pleasure to still be able to have him a part of our family.
REAX: “Beautiful Thieves” from Crash Love as well as, “Girls Not Grey” off Sing the Sorrow and finally “The Missing Frame” from Decemberunderground are the three AFI songs featured off the latest rendition of Guitar Hero 5. Your music is in a video game, man. What do you think of this crazy gamming technology?
DAVEY HAVOK: I grew up playing video games, but they were video games that were entirely different than what people are playing today. I haven’t played video games in years. I’m not really interested in video games, but it seems today it’s one of the few places that people can hear rock music. So (laughs)…
DAVEY HAVOK: We have become a part of those institutions and our songs are in those games to allow people to hear them. It doesn’t really excite me or totally bums me out. It’s just a matter of course these days.
REAX: How’s the rest of the band doing, such as Adam, Hunter, um… Jade? DAVEY HAVOK: There (laughs) good, I think. I haven’t seen them in three days but I think they’re alright.
REAX: They’re doing good. The main thing I want to get at is… Can you leak any side projects? Are you and Jade planning on releasing another Blaqk Audio album in the future?
DAVEY HAVOK: Yeah…
REAX: The first album, Cex Cells, reached #18 on the Billboard charts and Blaqk Audio just released a single track on the album, No New Tales to Tell. What exactly is that? And are you going to be releasing another Blaqk Audio Album?
DAVEY HAVOK: Yeah, we have plans releasing, Bright Black Heaven, this year for the new Blaqk Audio album. We have been working on it since we finished Crash Love and we currently have 35 new songs recorded for the record. It’s going to be a matter of figuring out, how, and when we're going to release the album, and which songs we're going to put on the album. It’s really difficult to plan in the midst of the Crash Love touring because that takes up so much of our time. But we are well working on it. We spent hours talking about it last night. We’re really, really, looking forward to it. It’s like I can not wait to get this music out. We were very honored to be part of the Love & Rockets record cover (album entitled: No New Tales to Tell). We plan on touring Blaqk Audio as well.
REAX: The look of Davey Havok has changed. The hair is spiked and cut short and appears to be different than last remembered. What inspired the change?
DAVEY HAVOK: You know I’m constantly changing the way I look. I have been as long as I can remember...since I was a very young child. People in the public who are fans, indirectly and who only see what I look like every three years or so because that’s the schedule upon which we make records. So, my aspect changes or appears more strikingly to them than the people who are apart of my life. It’s really a little bit more impassible for them than it is for me.
REAX: Do you have a personal favorite AFI song?
DAVEY HAVOK: No, um, really I don’t have many favorite anything, but it’s unless you really draw it down to the specific situations. With AFI I don’t have a favorite song. There are so many different types of AFI songs that I put so much in to each one of them that they all mean something different to me.
REAX: Does AFI keep a strong straightedge lifestyle?
DAVEY HAVOK: AFI is not a straightedge band and never has been. I am apart of the vegan straightedge and have been straightedge for 19 years now.
REAX: So I can quote you as saying that you are straightedge?
DAVEY HAVOK: That’s correct.
DAVEY HAVOK: I am vegan straightedge. I’ve been straightedge for 19 years and vegan straightedge for 12 or 13 years. It is very much who I am.
REAX: And when you define straightedge of course that means no drinking, no smoking and your eating habits consist only of vegan tendencies?
DAVEY HAVOK: When I define the vegan straightedge, yes. But I personally don’t believe that veganism is a mandatory facet of the straightedge movement. I would really encourage it, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from looking in to the straightedge lifestyle simply because they’re not prepared to make the step to veganism. But personally I am a vegan straightedge, yes.
REAX: Thank you for your time during such a busy schedule and giving us the opportunity for this interview. This is my final question, and is a bit broad. When the genre of music horror punk and/or gothic punk is discussed, I’m sure there’s a long list of noteworthy bands worth mentioning regarding its originators. The AFI album’s Black Sails in the Sunset and Art of Drowning prove undeniable artistry to horror punk and since that time AFI has earned awards and topped Billboard charts from albums like Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground. Is AFI currently expanding or breaking the conventions of the horror pop genre or is this an ensemble that’s evolving into something completely new?
DAVEY HAVOK: It’s funny, I have never heard that term (horror punk and/or gothic punk) until people started tacking it on to what we do. I really think it’s a misnomer and it’s something that doesn’t exist. I really don’t think there’s such a thing at all. The term Goth and punk...it’s virtually a contradiction. Fortunately, I don’t mean to be too contrary to your question (lightheartedly speaking with laughter).
REAX: No, it’s fine. You're right. They are labeling AFI as a Horror Punk and Goth Punk band and this genre of music supposedly created by the Misfits has inspired bands like HorrorPops, as well as other bands.
DAVEY HAVOK: With the exception of The Misfits who are just a punk band. I would probably guess that those other bands post date AFI and the creation of that term. It’s a ridiculous term and I don’t accept it.
REAX: It’s a ridiculous term and Davey Havok doesn’t accept it (laughs).
DAVEY HAVOK: I don’t think it means anything. As I said, it's self contradictory to put those to terms together. If someone can define it for me, I might be able to understand it. We don’t play punk rock and don’t play what most people consider to be Gothic music, although, I also think that’s a misnomer as well. If you look at most of the bands in the 1980’s when the journalist came up with that term to describe bands like The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy, those artists themselves laughed when asked to what that means as well.