AFI Duo Discuss ‘Burials’ Album Influences, Live Aspirations + Davey Havok’s Book
AFI fans can rejoice as the band’s first new album since 2009’s ‘Crash Love’ is now scheduled for an Oct. 22 release. ‘Burials’ finds the group taking a decidedly darker direction with the new music and Noisecreep recently spoke with frontman Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget about the specific influences for their new disc. The duo also spoke about their fall tour plans and Havok opened up about his recent adventures as the author of the book ‘Pop Kids.’ Check out our interview below:
Was there a point in the creation of what you’re putting together where a song began to drive the direction of the ‘Burials’ record?
Jade Puget: Yeah for me it wasn’t a single song, but early on it became apart what the sound of the record was going to be. Not by any design on our part but, it’s like what my guitar sounded, like what kind of production I was in, what I was making the drums sound like, it was very spacious and dark and kind of dirty and muddy, on purpose, and everything having a lot of verb and delay and a lot of delay on his vocals so it was sounding, you know, just this dark, spacey, sparse, angular of thing. Which wasn’t necessarily like us, the dark we’ve done that before certainly, but there was this sound that emerged on the demos at least, you know the final product was a little more polished, but you know, it was very kind of lo-fi and gritty. Gritty is what I kind of kept going back to.
Davey Havok: Yeah, yeah!
I was going to say ominous sounding…
Davey Havok: There is an ominous mood to a lot of what’s going on. I mean in particular I think that’s there’s a good you haven’t heard but there’s this song called ‘The Face Beneath the Waves,’ that closes the record. I wish you had heard the whole record, but I think that’s a good descriptive for that song in particular and a greater mood of the record. There’s a suffocating feeling to a lot of what’s happening within the course of the greater piece.
Listening to ‘I Hope You Suffer,’ one of things that stood out to me, and I’m struggling to remember another instance for you, but that piano part really sets the song off.
Davey Havok: Oh, oh we’ve had a bit of piano. ‘Silver and Cold’ there’s piano a little.
Jade Puget: Yeah there’s been little elements, but on the verse of that song which is a big part of the song there’s no guitar at all, it’s just piano and the sound in the background is actually a distorted brass, like a brass section. I was trying to create some layers that are a little different, left of center from what we’re doing and take my guitar completely out it. It lends to spaciousness and really creates a bed for his vocal to sit where it’s not like, cause guitars can take up a lot of space, so he has a lot of space to do that dynamic vocal.
Jade, with each record I’m sure you approach it differently in terms of music wise what you’re putting together. Can you maybe break down a little bit of what types of tones and maybe some of the instruments, guitars and stuff that you were working with on this record?
Jade Puget: When we did all these songs we demoed out completely they were totally finished before we brought anyone else into the process and so you know I was using … the guitar to me is like … I’m a guitar player, but at the same time it’s just one … you know it’s like, if you’re a painter and you only use blue, I can’t just picture using guitar as like my primary instrument anymore, so a lot of it was piano and programming and layers and soundscapes and I really get into the drums the rhythm and the bass and all that stuff, too.
A lot of it is in the box, which means I live in a place where I can’t set up a full stack and mic it up and be playing loud so I have to do a lot creative things to get the sounds I was doing cause a lot of it was, you know, using my computer. The way technology is now you can do amazing things and you can make anything sound like anything so …. you know then when we brought Gil [Norton] in and actually went into the studio we got a lot more the organic sounds. Like an actual kit mic’ed up and, you know, big guitars you know.
Davey, can you talk a little about was there anything in particular inspiring you?
Davey Havok: I mean everything was inspiring me. Where I was at emotionally at the time, what Jade was creating musically also directed me. So my particular mood was probably informing what Jade was creating because he had the misfortune of being around me everyday and probably even there after when he went home and wo rked on the music on his own. It probably stayed with him, like a disease, umm poor poor man. [laughter]
But all of that went into the vocal into the lyric, which I presume you’re speaking of more specifically and it’s all very natural. It’s very honest as is everything I write, but it’s very candid and more direct, I think, than anything I’ve ever written with AFI in the past. It just of flowed, a lot of and I’ve said this before it was virtually stream of consciousness, sometimes it was literally stream of consciousness and took just a little honing to form it into a proper song.
‘Burials,’ the album title. I’ve seen a few things in the press about it, but if you would like to expand upon how that came to be the title of the record.
Davey Havok: The term ‘Burials’ really speaks to what’s happening on the record and the sentiments that are accompanying the greater whole that is the record. The burials that cause, for the burials a silence that results in complete destructiveness by way of passivity and the chaos that ensues from the silence and forms other chaos and betrayal and collapse and anxiety and the panic that results from those scenarios are all involved in what’s happening in throughout the course of the record. I really feel like ‘Burials’ really captures really well the tone of what’s going on on many levels, figuratively and almost literally.
Anything you’re particularly interested off this record that you’re really excited to get out there and see how the audience embraces?
Davey Havok: I mean I’m really excited to play all of it as usual. At this moment only two songs being available those are the two that spring to mind to see how audiences react to that and I look forward to playing ’17 Crimes’ and ‘I Hope You Suffer.’
In terms of what you guys are going to do live on tour this time. There are a lot of ways of doing it, you can do it with a lot of theatrics, you can just do it bare bones and put the focus solely on the performance. Anything you share on what we should look for this time?
Davey Havok: We like a production that is a luxury to be able to have the production.
Jade Puget: We’re going out kind of, this run is smaller clubs, so you can’t afford to like bring a bunch of screens or fit them in the club. This will be more on the stripped down side, which is fine by me, while it gives the crowd something to look at I’m just doing the same thing, whether I’m in front of a screen or in front of nothing.
Davey Havok: Yeah we’re always doing the same thing.
Jade Puget: I’m just going to be…
Davey Havok: yeah just doing it.
Jade Puget: doing solos.
Davey Havok: the whole set. The whole set.
Jade Puget: …in between songs…
Davey Havok: We’ll still have the solo riser. 10 ft. solo riser.
Jade Puget: It takes me out over the crowd.
Davey Havok: yeah.
Jade Puget: Spent most of our guarantee getting that setup I think that’s important.
Davey Havok: I think it’s very important. It’s what people are coming to see.
So because the rest of the album isn’t out there yet, if you’d like to take one of the songs you’d like to see get some attention down the road and talk about why is stands out to you….
Jade Puget: I’ll probably go with a song called ‘Heart Stops.’ It’s like that one kind of song that almost like doesn’t fit with the rest of the record. I’m sure like lyrically and the tone of the lyrics fit but musically it’s something we never really done before. It’s another one of those songs that we wrote off the cuff. Just one part to the next so it’s very natural, I think people are going to … I think it’s going to be a polarizing kind of song. I think in that its such an interesting sounding song and really cool and the way his voice sounds and what I’m playing and the drums everything sounds kind of different than what we’ve done before.
Davey Havok: The tone is very unique.
A nice little curveball to the album?
Jade Puget: Yeah it’s definitely a curveball yeah.
In this time since the last record, Davey, also a book?
Davey Havok: Yeah I wrote a book. [laughter] What do you want? [laughter]
By adding another creative outlet, how did you find your experience pursuing that direction?
Davey Havok: I really enjoy writing, I really do, that’s not saying I’m very good at it. And I’m working on the second one now and I feel that I’m writing better than the first. It’s something I was working on for years. I started writing it as we were writing ‘Crash Love’ and I finished it shortly after [appearing in] ‘American Idiot.’ I was finishing the final edit during ‘American Idiot’ in 2011,
I really really enjoy writing and it was fun for me to write and I’m just really touched by the reaction that it’s received so far. People seem to like it, people have read it and even if they don’t like it just taking the time to read it is touching to me and my publisher is very happy. People don’t read books so for people to go out of their way to read my books is very touching especially since I’m not a trained writer. But I’ll write another. That’s how we started.
Davey Havok: Maybe 22 years from now I’ll know how to write a story. I’m going to keep going till I know how to. So my friend came up to me and said, “So you’re writing a book?” I said, “Yeah.” He’s like, “Take any writing classes?” “Gosh, no” He said, “You’re just going to sit down and write a book.” I said, “Yeah just doing it” He says, “So essentially you’re writing what is to be your ‘Dork’ of novels?” ‘Dork’ being the 1st AFI 7-inch. I said, “Yeah, yeah, except the difference is you can listen to ‘Dork’ in the matter of a probably about 2:20 seconds and you have to spend hours reading my long long story.” [laugher]
You two ever think about collaborating on a book project?
Davey Havok: Whoa, writing. [laughter] We didn’t actually start together writing music, but I … I never even considered of how that would even work.
Jade Puget: I mean there are teams where guys would write together. It’s pretty rare but…
Davey Havok: If we were to do that it would be more a screenplay or a series or something like that where we could create some sort of film noire.
Jade Puget: Writing our screenplay soon.
Davey Havok: Yeah, that’s what’s next.
There you go.
Davey Havok: Count ‘em in.
And include the guys who did the videos.
Davey Havok: Oh yeah imagine that. Isn’t that the future? That’d be something.
Our thanks to AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Puget for taking the time to speak with Noisecreep. The band’s new album, ‘Burials,’ is on schedule for an Oct. 22 release and you can catch them on tour this fall.