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AFI: DAVEY HAVOK The X-Press Interview

With the release of their self-titled 10th record, more commonly referred to as The Blood Albumearlier this year, AFI are gearing up for their first Australian headline tour in more than 10 years. Frontman Davey Havok had a chat with LEESA MAREE about his musical influences, the longevity of the band and staying drug free. AFI play Metro City on Thursday September 14.

You’re back in Perth in September for the down under leg of the Blood tour. What can we expect from the show?

You can expect an AFI show. And if you haven’t seen one, that includes a lot of AFI songs (laughs), more from all our different eras and us putting everything we have into the show, which is what we’ve always done, since we were baby boys.

This is your 10th studio album with AFI. How do you feel about that?

I’m thrilled to have been able to spend my whole life making music.

If were you talk to me when I was a baby boy, as I referenced before, and told me that I was going to be able to continue playing music for the rest of my life I’d have been thrilled. It wasn’t until I was around 18 years old, 19 years old that we all permanently dedicated ourselves to this life, but you know dedication doesn’t always result in being able to do what you want to do for the rest of your life. So far that’s what we’ve been able to do.

What is The Blood Album all about?

It’s not really about one thing, each album is a snapshot into where we are as people and where we are as songwriters at the time during which the record was written. Very much so for me personally as I have been given the artistic freedom to express myself as I will through each album. In that regard The Blood Album is very much an insight to my perspective personally. Blood is very much an aftermath. It is post-Burials (their ninth album) and it is very much a curiosity and focus on the aftermath of that period of time and it’s to do a lot with connections and misperceptions of connection and identity. Those themes run throughout the record.

Do you have a favourite song of the album?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find any of us say that we have a favourite song off any record that’s current. I think that perhaps we could look back and you know, review our older albums with hindsight, say one of the songs has remained more relevant than others but due to the relevance of each of the songs for us they hold a very dear place for us in their own way, each of them.

The song Aurelia is really beautiful, it’s really haunting, what can you tell me about it?

Aurelia is one of my favourite songs to play live. I think if you were to ask any of us which is our favourite song to play live, we would all nod to that song.

That is the case because it really highlights an aspect of the band that has been a part of all our musical upbringings individually and as a group but has yet to be expressed as well through our own creations and I think that Aurelia does that really well. There are also a few other songs on the record that highlight those influences and those parts of us that are very important.

Aurelia in specifics was one of the later songs for the record. It came very naturally, it was Jade (Puget, guitar) and I sitting in front of each other and Jade had his guitar and it was a song that was actually freestyled fairly quickly and a lot of times in the case of that song, if were to look back at that song and find that those songs have a strength and energy than the more deliberated songs have.  I’m really happy it made it to the record. I was very, very excited about the song when we wrote it and I’m glad it made the cut.

AFI hit their 25th Anniversary last year. That’s a really amazing milestone for a band, congratulations. What has kept you guys going all of these years?

Really it’s the same thing that started us is our love for creating music and our honesty in what we do. We really value having the opportunity and it’s been a very important part of our lives. It’s been entirely drug free as much as the four of us goes. Jade and I, are actively drug free and I think that has imparted in the longevity of the band.

So that’s pretty hard to come by these days with most bands…

(laughs) With anybody really that’s alive.

Is the chemistry still the same with the band members?

Well that depends what you are referring to. We have the band that began and it is literally a different band. Adam and I are the only original members but for most parts people envision AFI to be who AFI is today. The four of us who are in this band and have been in this band since 1998.

Are there a few artists over the years that have been a constant influence?

Oh yeah, okay, Robert Smith, Nick Cave, Dave Gahan, Ian MacKaye, all of Joy Division who have gone to be New Order, Johnny Marr, Guns N’ Roses, I’ve been listening to Underworld for the past three days, they are wildly inspiring. I’ve been listening to them lately and Dead can Dance. I’ve been listening to both those bands for many years.

Have there been many other Australian bands that you’ve been into lately?

Nick Cave, who is one of the first persons I mentioned in that list. His work with the Birthday Party and Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is profoundly moving and awe inspiring and every time I see him play it’s such an elevating experience and such a confronting experience. My friends and I, I just got to see him recently in Manhattan and then last weekend saw him in Los Angeles where he ended up standing on top of me for The Weeping Song and Stagger Lee, so that was delightful. Ah, so I love Nick Cave, INXS is of course fantastic and again I mentioned Dead can Dance. I’ve been listening to Dead Can Dance a lot very recently and they are just unlike anybody else really and have such a wide influence.

If you could offer any advice to a young aspiring band, what would that be?

Do what you believe in and do what you love and disregard what anybody else says, whether they like it or not and keep doing it… and don’t do drugs (laughs).

On that note, how hard has that been for you guys? To keep doing the not doing drugs?

Not that hard! No not that hard. That’s one of the things that has allowed for the longevity of the band that we’ve all come from that perspective you know, that we all are driven to create naturally and create what we love. We’ve been lucky to work with people who understand that we’re in it first and foremost to create something that we’re proud of and something that’s genuine and people supported that. I mean we’d continue to do it whether or not we were being supported (laughs) but we’ve been lucky enough to not be confronted with people that want to change that.

Lastly, Jack, Oogie Boogie or Zero?

Oh! Oh god I’m sorry I actually couldn’t, oh I was actually thinking are you speaking a different language (laughs). Edward. Edward… that’s my answer (laughs). If you don’t know what that means then look it up and you will see.

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