The origins of AFI (A Fire Inside) are humble-- four high school
students making noise in a garage in the early 90's, looking for
some way to alleviate boredom in a small town between skateboard
sessions. As they learned to play their instruments with each
practice, even they couldn't imagine what the band would become.
On September 26th, afi released their fifth full-length
album, entitled The Art of Drowning, which showcases exactly what
it is AFI has evolved into-- a band with a sound unlike any other,
a sound where chilling melodies collide alternately with furious
aggression and somber melancholy. While their music is firmly
rooted in both punk rock and hardcore, they have effectively blasted
away any distinction between the two and can claim an army of
fans from both subcultures as well as virtually every other underground
or extreme music genre from goth to metal.
Not just a "studio" band, the intensity of afi's live
performances must be seen and heard to be believed. "Through
our bleeding, we are one!" the crowd chants as the band takes
the stage, wherein occurs an exchange of energy between band and
audience that is much like a lightning storm-- charging and changing
the normally genial vocalist Davey Havok into a man possessed.
One of the ways the band has garnered the fanatic following they
now enjoy is through the plain hard work of many a month spent
on the road. They've toured with such acts as The Offspring, Rancid,
Danzig/Samhain and Sick Of It All to name but a few, as well as
doing a stint on the most recent Warped Tour. Since their first
nationwide tour in 1995, they have crossed the continent of North
America countless times in their tours of the United States and
Canada, done multiple tours of Europe and even paid a visit to
Japan in 1998. AFI hit the road in support of The Art of Drowning
with punk legends Rancid near the end of 2000 in what promises
to be one of their most anticipated and exciting tours yet.
In addition to original members Havok and drummer Adam Carson,
the band has seen its share of lineup changes, bassist Hunter
(ex-The Force) entered the fold as a tour stand-in before recording
on the band's third album "Shut Your Mouth and Open Your
Eyes," while guitarist Jade Puget (ex-Redemption 87) joined
for the fourth full-length, "Black Sails in the Sunset,"
as well as the subsequent "All Hallows E.P.," a four-song
release that contains the original version of "Totalimmortal"
(a song which received heavy radio airplay all over the nation
when it was recorded by The Offspring for the soundtrack to the
film Me, Myself & Irene). Puget's task was not easy-- in addition
to assuming guitar duties he became a primary writer of the band's
music. Still, no one better understood where AFI had been musically
and where they should go-- he'd known the band since the very
beginning and had played guitar on the flip side of their first
ever release, a split 7" with Loose Change released in 1992.
Things coalesced quickly, Jade the perfect complement to Havok's
brooding lyrics and accomplished vocal talents. There's no weak
link in this chain-- to say that Hunter and Adam are accomplished
in their respective rhythm section duties would be an understatement.
Such lineup changes might have destroyed another band, but the
opposite has occurred with AFI -- with each new album and E.P.
the band has bravely forged ahead into new musical territory,
all the while maintaining their original energy and intensity.
The Art of Drowning is no exception to this progression, but while
it contains the inevitable musical surprises that avid listeners
have come to expect from the band, it is also a distillation of
all that has come before, touching on every phase of their evolution,
as well as what is to come. Of the new album, vocalist Davey Havok
says, "I feel it's our most complete work." It is also
the most sonically pleasing, recorded in Berkeley's famous Fantasy
Studios with Chuck Johnson and mixed in the familiar environment
of Art of Ears in Hayward with longtime associate Andy Ernst.
Johnson, a well-respected veteran who's worked with everyone from
Nick Cave to Korn, lent his expertise as he co-produced the new
album with the band. The days of honing their craft in the garage
are now a long ago memory, but one thing has not changed-- the
fire inside AFI still burns, more strongly than ever. With each
new record, each tour, each show, the flames spread-- ever igniting
in new people and places, threatening to someday engulf the world.