AFI has been blending elements of emo, alt-rock and metal with a dose of theatrical horror imagery since 1991, with songs like “Miss Murder,” “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Silver & Cold” serving as anthems for disenfranchised youth for decades. The young year sees the band release their 10th CD “AFI (The Blood Album)” and hitting the road.
In advance of their stop at the 9:30 Club Tuesday evening, lead singer Davey Havok discussed the new album, maturing and why he working hard to cover up his past.
Question: Are you still having all your body tattoos blacked out?
Answer: I don’t know how long how long it will take me to finish or how far I’m going to go with it. As you know I’m constantly changing, and it’s an attempt to cover up bad decisions with worse decisions. That’s how I live life.
Q: Are you trying to erase your history?
A: Of course, history cannot be erased, it can only be covered up. It’s still there living beneath the scars. Beneath the swelling bloody wound.
Speaking of blood … .
Q: Nice segue. Why is the new album subtitled “The Blood Album”?
A: As we were writing the record, we wrote about 60 songs for it. Perhaps more. Early on in that process I started to recognize the reoccurence of blood in the lyrics that I was writing for what would eventually become the record. I brought it to [AFI guitarist] Jade [Puget]’s attention early on in the process as something we might want to revisit at the time we decided what was generally gonna comprise the finished record.
When we got to that point, “Blood Album” seemed and appropriate subtitle for the record. We self-titled the record officially to give a bit of a ceremonious nod to it being our 10th record as a band. Which is somewhat of a surreal moment in a way for all of us.
“Blood” as the subtitle helped tie in the record thematically. Thematically it conveys what is going on lyrically in the record. Blood evokes different imagery and concepts for different people. Most of them can be applied toward the record.
Q: Ten albums in, what keeps the band motivated to create music?
A: We love making music. It’s the same things that motivated us from the beginning to start the band. We just really enjoy playing [and] pushing ourselves further artistically. We enjoy performing, and we have the opportunity to do so.
Many people don’t have the opportunity to do something that they love, so we take advantage of that opportunity every time we’re afforded it. We continue to enjoy creating. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t. Thankfully, we are lucky enough to have passionate and dedicated fans who also enjoy our creations. Which allows us to continue.
Q: In the band’s life, has there ever been a moment you thought, “That’s all. Can’t do it again”?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Many points. It hasn’t been a completely easy 20, 25 years. Of course there were rough points all throughout the course of our history and life as a band. Moments where we’ve thought “We’re not gonna make it through this.” Or I thought, “I’m not gonna make it through this.”
But to quit something that is so much a part of me and means so much to me, so much to us, was never truly an option. Every time we lost a member, it was daunting. I had surgery on my vocal chords, and that was really scary. That was very confronting. If we can persevere, it is definitely worth it. And we have been able to.
Q: Adam Carson, your drummer, and you have been in the band since Day 1. What is the bond there that keeps you making music?
A: We’re family. Either of us would lay down on the tracks for the other. We couldn’t possibly be closer even though we haven’t lived in the same city for as long as I can remember. The bond between is unbreakable. That sounds like the lyrics to a hard-core song. (Laughs.)
We’ve gone through so much together. He and I have been dedicated to this since we were very young teenagers.
Q: Is this the band’s most mature album?
A: I don’t know if it’s the most mature thing we’ve done. I think it falls in line with our albums “Burials” and “Crash Love” in terms of songwriting, and it’s a representation of who we are currently. It’s very relevant to us in that regard.
Q: Vocally, have you shifted away from the screaming of earlier albums to really singing?
A: I don’t enjoy screaming. I haven’t enjoyed screaming for many, many years. It’s rarely my inclination to scream in the past 10 years of so when making AFI records. On the other hand, when making [punk side band] XTRMST records, my only inclination is to scream.
I really enjoy singing, and given the opportunity to explore different facets of my voice, I love to take it.
Q: You and Jade are the creative center of the band. do the other guys ever get jealous of that relationship?
A: Everyone is very happy with the creative process. It is a collaboration. It begins with Jade and I, and we have a very defined group of songs that make it to the guys. Everyone adds their voice to it at that point, and it’s been the process for many, many years.
Q: With 10 albums in your arsenal, how do you decide what to play live?
A: It’s tough to choose. There is so much we enjoy playing. If you look at the set list we are playing on the “Blood” tour, it features a little taste of everything. We prefer to play shorter sets to longer sets as a general rule. We don’t want to pummel our audience with hours and hours of music.
AFI plays the 9:30 Club Tuesday. Tickets are $30 by going to 930.com.
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