AFI have certainly had quite a career. In their time, there has been a steady progression across each album in the band's thick catalog. They've lost fans, gained others and still maintain a spot in punk rock history thus far. With their eighth studio album, Crash Love, the band have looked to move forward yet again. Guitarist Jade Puget took some time to talk about the three album/three year coincidence of the last decade, the band's longevity and how all bets are off on how you think the future of AFI will sound like.
There's been a three year gap in between albums since the beginning of the decade. Is this coincidental in the recording process, or since The Art of Drowning, has AFI really taken to more critique while in the studio?
I guess it's sort of both, because we are very methodical, and don't try to rush out an album because we should. I feel like after Decemberunderground took three years to make, I told myself, "We're not going to take three years again. There's no way we're going to do that again," yet it somehow seemed to happen the same way. There's something about the three year period that seems to take that long.
Is there anything that you find yourself in the studio working on more with, that you noticed that may have happened with Decemberunderground?
This time was a little different, because we started out with a producer and did actually record some of the record, until we realized we didn't like it. We went back and recorded the songs again, so if it weren't for that, it wouldn't have taken so long.
AFI has come out in interviews and said you guys have recorded a good amount of songs, but have only chosen a handful for each album. Could you see all those b-sides on a compilation one day?
We've released quite a few b-sides for [Crash Love], and that's just kind of the way it is. Everyone wants an exclusive b-side, whether it's iTunes or Japan or England. All your b-sides eventually come out, so I don't think we have many that hasn't seen the light of day.
I meant more along the lines of every AFI b-side across the band's discography. Could we see a compilation like that?
That would be kind of cool. People might think it's a new album though, and it would be all b-sides, so it may be this mediocre album.
With Crash Love, it seems like you guys took a little more pop - and I use that term loosely - influences into recording. I say this with the known influence that band has with The Cure, as opposed to the darker undertones the band is known for in the past. What are some of your thoughts on that.
It's been so many years between records. We've changed as people. We've changed as song writers. We've changed some of what we are into. This record is more of a rock record, than a pop record. [Also] we're writing a rock song that sounds more poppy than something on Black Sails in the Sunset. Particularly on this record, we [had already] done a particular sound, so we want to explore other stuff. I think that's just a product of growth.
What about your musical influences over the past decade. How has that shaped your sound over these past few albums?
It's strange the way we write. We're never really influenced directly by music. It seems strange, when we're writing music, it just never seems to work out that way, like, "Let's write a song like this," or "I listened to this band today, and they have this cool part." I don't know what it is. I'm always influenced in general by music, but there wasn't a certain thing I was listening to in the past couple of years that shaped this new record. There were certainly a few things I was listening to back when we were recording Sing the Sorrow - bands like Refused I was listening to since the 90's. I can still put on those records and still get a thrill from them. I can still get that energy I got from when I first listened to [those albums]. Stuff like The Beatles and certain blues records. Those things will stick with me and influence me in some way.
What do you think of the whole punk scene now, or whatever it is called today or turned itself into. Though AFI's sound has shifted, do you feel like you guys are still part of that, or has the natural shift taken you out of that genre?
We have certainly been a punk band for a long time. Punk to me, when I was growing up, is a different thing now. I wouldn't even know what that word really means today. When I considered myself to be punk, which is like the 80's [laughs], I don't even know if that's pop-punk or if it was street punk - what I was listening to back then - that word has come to mean...when I started to listen to punk, it either was or it wasn't. Now that word is used to describe so many things, it's hard to really know what it means.
You guys certainly have some grand influences, ranging from The Cure to the Misfits, and I enjoyed your feature in Alternative Press on your influence of Jawbreaker. In everything you've done now, across your catalog, even within the future of the band, in hoping to have an impact on future generations and bands to come, what aspect of AFI do you hope holds strong from here on?
One thing I'm sort of proud of, that we've maintained throughout the 11 years I've been in the band, is the honesty of our music - the honesty of what we are doing. That's why we change our music so much. You know, when we put out Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground - that sound of those records - we sold a lot of records and were very successful. We could have easily said, "Oh well, this works, let's stick with this. This is going to be our sound." We didn't do that, and we keep changing our sound. You could very well fail if you move away from something that works. I would at least hope that bands maybe would look at that, if they are going to look at anything we did, and see that musical exploration and growing and trying new things is what it's about.
What do you think of AFI's longevity today? What does the future hold?
I don't know. Even when I was asked that question ten years ago, I would have never guessed what happened. This kind of lifestyle, just being a musician, is a very morphing future. You kind of just enjoy it and hope you can just continue to make records and go on the road and perform them.
What do you have to say to those fans that aren't happy with the way AFI has progressed? Is a bit disheartening?
That's the case of any band really, but that's been the case for this band the last fifteen years. Even before I was in AFI, I remember when message boards first started, reading people saying those kinds of things. We have long since begun not to worry about people wanting us to stay the same, because they should know by now we are not going to. This is who we are, and we're not going to make the same record again. If those people like a certain record, or a certain sound, then they can just listen to that record. If they like punk rock music, and we're not playing it anymore, than there are plenty of great punk rock bands out there. It's a win-win situation.
hen I considered myself to be punk, which is like the 80's [laughs], I don't even know if that's pop-punk or if it was street punk - what I was listening to back then - that word has come to mean...when I started to listen to punk, it either was or it wasn't. Now that word is used to describe so many things, it's hard to really know what it means.