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Jon Chattman

Jon Chattman

Posted: September 29, 2009 03:41 PM

AFI's Davey Havok Weighs In on Rock Band, Surviving Catholic School, and Crash Love

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Contrary to the guyliner and oft-black or goth-esque tight outfits, AFI shouldn't be restricted to the Hot Topic shelves and "Twilight" circuit. The alt-rockers have been together for a staggering 18 years, and their last effort -- 2006's "Decemberunderground" -- broke through to mainstream and became their biggest hit to date. Singles "Miss Murder" and "Love Like Winter" are still played in heavy rotation by rock stations -- mostly of the satellite radio variety -- which is quite impressive considering the tracks are over three years old and have to compete with a million bands that sound like Deathcab for Cutie on Vicodin.

The band's eighth studio album "Crash Love" is out Sept. 29, and Davey Havok knows there's pressure to live up to past success. Most of that pressure, mind you, is self-induced. I spoke with the glam frontman about that, mustaches, video games, surviving Catholic school and more last week.

What was the process like of going into the studio and recording a new album after "Decemberunderground's" amazing success?
It took awhile. We spent nine months writing the record - a process which [left us with] 60 songs. Of those 60, we worked on probably 30 of them as a band. From there, we started tracking after nine months. It took nine months to get the record to start sounding the way we wanted them represented or envisioned them to sound. It was a long process, but it took the same time though for "Decemberunderground."

Were you surprised by "Decemberunderground's" success? I mean the radio stations I listen to play songs off it like it just came out.
You know, I don't listen to the stations that play my band, but my friend said [that's true] he said they still play "Love Like Winter" and "Miss Murder." I mean that'd be great if we could continue to be staples of alt-rock radio. I don't take that for granted.

Any pressure on you guys for more hit singles with "Crash Love?"
For us, the pressure comes from internal matter of having recorded eight records. [The goal is] never to see anything we're not happy with. Every time, it's a matter of artistically moving forward. As far commercial success, I don't think that's a focus but it's not that we don't enjoy that. It's not something you can attempt and achieve. We hope the songs that finally end up on the record do appeal to a lot of people, but first and foremost it's to create something we're [proud of].

Some artists think "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" are bad for the industry. You have a few songs on the games, what's you take on that?
I understand the implications that if you take half the time learning to play the music that you play the video game, you can create art but the [video games] are a representation of the time. I don't play it, but it's kind of cool that a majority of people who like video games can get turned onto bands they might not have been before. It is not bad for the music industry. The music industry is f--ked anyway.

Changing topics for a sec, what was life like for you going to Catholic school? How did you survive?
It was pretty rough but luckily I did not go to a Catholic high school. The town I grew up in was preschool through eighth grade. But, yeah it was a drag. [Laughs] One thing I will say is the education was good - even religion classes. I appreciate the knowledge I have - the imagery still appeals to me. But otherwise, it's pretty f----d up. I remember in the eighth grade, during a parent/teacher conference, a nun came down and spoke to my parents.

It's funny because I had great grades, did very well on tests, and got a long well with others but she told my parents she was "very concerned." My parents were like "what for?" She told them "I think your son might worship the devil..." When I think back to the stuff they were teaching kids, it's pretty wild but I managed to get through it. When I was sent to public school, I was relieved that I could wear what I wanted to wear.

Speaking of what to wear, you've had your own fashion line and a strong sense of fashion. Is the fashion as important to the music?
It's secondary but it's really a matter of being comfortable the way I look and to create clothing and T-shirts that I myself would wear. It's all just a matter of continuity. It's just ongoing.

Mustache envy is ongoing as well. In your book, who has the best mustache ever and why?
John Waters' has always appealed to me. That John Waters or Ed Wood mustache - only certain people can pull it off and it's a fine line to look [good] or come off as creepy. I've tried to but I can't let myself out of the house with it. I'm just not comfortable with it. I do covet the ability to have one.

 
 

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