- - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Side projects are usually a short-lived, vanity-driven distraction from the “real band” and are often used as a threat by one band member again another. Nine times out of 10, they lead to a breakup and often never measure up to the original band’s brilliance.

Not so for Blaqk Audio, the 1980s-inspired electronic synth duo created by AFI’s singer Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget. The band has been going strong alongside AFI for over a decade and a half. Blaqk Audio has just released its third CD, “Material,” and are hitting the road for their second ever tour, which comes to the District’s U Street Music Hall Saturday.

Mr. Puget and Mr. Havok discussed the new disc as well as Mr. Havok’s other “project” with the guys from No Doubt.

Question: How long into the life of AFI was Blaqk Audio born?

Jade Puget: 2000 or 2001 was when we started it.

Davey Havok: That was 10 years into AFI. Fifteen years ago.

Q: How did it happen? Did one of you say to the other, “You know, I really love early Human League and Kraftwerk.” Do you?

DH: We both knew we loved that music: Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Erasure. But it was Jade who said, “Hey, let’s do something like this.”

JP: It was around 2000 that I started programming. That was when our love of and ability to actually make this music coincided.

Q: Jade, do you create all the music and then bring it to Davey?

JP: That’s kind of how it’s been. A lot of AFI too, where I do the music by myself. I would just send Davey fully realized songs and he would do his vocal. On the first Blaqk Audio record (“CexCells”) I didn’t even know what he had written until we were in the studio. So I’m sitting there while he’s in front of the mic tracking our record, hearing his vocals for the first time.

Q: How do you feel the music has progressed?

JP: A lot of the new stuff I think is more sonic. My abilities as a producer and a programer have progressed. Every time we put out a new record, I’ve become a lot better. The first record is really cool and raw. But sometimes when I hear it, ow I think, “Oh man. I can’t believe I did that!”

We are always exploring. There are so many little subgenres of electronica that we love.

Q: To me the new record has more elements of EDM than before.

DH: That might very well be the case. It wasn’t a conscious effort. We are so close to the music that if in fact we picked out a dance-y record, we were not aware of it.

JP: There is a lot of four-on-the-floor on there. I guess there’s a couple songs on the album that might have a nod to what’s going on now. But that is something that I try to avoid.

We have been doing this for 15 years. I don’t want to be like, “Oh, now we’re EDM.” Everything that we are listening to is going to somehow influence what we are doing, even if we don’t want it to.

Q: When you’re writing a song, how do you know if it is a AFI song or a Blaqk Audio song?

DH: For me it is very definitive. If the music I’m being given by Jade is electronica, I know it’s Blaqk Audio.

JP: There are times when it has crossed over, where one of the song was meant for one band and went to the other. One of the biggest AFI songs, “Love Like Winter,” was originally a Blaqk Audio song.

Q: What has been the reaction to the band from the other AFI members?

DH: They are very supportive. They understand that this is something that we really love. It’s very much a part of us. It excites us. We’ve been together for many years, and they are very happy for us to have this outlet.

Q: Do you ever feel like the band is a band out of time?

JP: I hope so. To me that’s why I try musically to never go too much toward what is going on right now. Even though electronic music has become this huge thing again, we recognized early on that we are never going to really be in that world. I’ve become pretty comfortable with that.

Q: Are you excited about your current tour? 

JP: Before this we have only ever done one tour as Blaqk Audio. That was in 2008. Two tours in 15 years. [laughs]

Q: How do you guys manage the schedule of two active bands?

DH: There’s even more than that. There’s also the project I’m working on with the boys from No Doubt. Jade and I also have a third band, XTRMST. I have written my second novel that I’m copy editing right now. Jade is constantly scoring films.

JP: All the things we do together right now are all coming together at the same time. Probably most insane it’s ever been.

DH: It’s a matter of scheduling. It’s just like calendering anything else. We work days and nights on different things.

Q: Davey, how did your other band with the guys from No Doubt come about?

DH: We don’t even have a name for the band yet. I’ve known [No Doubt bassist] Tony [Kanal] for years from being in music=. We would hang out at different festivals. I started seeing Tony more frequently once he went vegan. That was about two year ago. We would bump into each other at all the spots. That’s when he brought up the idea of doing a project together.

Q: Any idea when we might hear new music?

DH: Um … . We haven’t even recorded a record yet. So the answer is not soon. Not soon.


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