By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
No small part of AFI’s appeal — and the current industry chatter about them — is down to Davey Havok’s perceived star quality, something that’s thin on the ground in a corporate KROQ landscape. The charming, quietly spoken and effeminate Havok bears some resemblance to Southern Death Cult–era Ian Astbury in shoulder-length black hair, smudged eyeliner and arms a tapestry of tattoos. Predictably, the media fawns over him, and much of AFI’s reluctant “goth” tag (they’ve taken to performing dressed all in white in a bid to counter this) in fact only applies to Havok’s appearance. He’s suitably pained by the misrepresentation: “I couldn’t do any of this without these guys, I mean not even close. Everybody in the band is their own individual person, and together we make AFI. To judge the band on the color of lipstick that I wear is insane!”
It’s been a long road for AFI: 11 years, five independent albums, endless road miles and repeated personnel convulsions. But, having been in this band since their mid-teens, Havok and Carson can’t even contemplate a life without or beyond AFI. “I really don’t think about it, because this is all we have and this is all we know, and this is all we wantto know,” says Havok. “When we decided to really dedicate ourselves to this band, to quit school and quit our jobs and just do AFI because this was what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives, it was at that point that I said, ‘Okay, I realize that I’m always going to be poor, I’m never going to have a place to live, and I’m going to travel in a van for the rest of my life.’ There was no thought that more than a thousand people in the world were ever going to listen to our band. I realized what the repercussions would be and what satisfaction I would get from it . . . and we’ve gotten so much more from it than we ever expected, it’s amazing.”
2003 will see AFI’s Sing the Sorrow under the critical and public microscope, and DreamWorks will be pressuring the band to turn a profit on its investment. Then there’s a retrospective box set on the way (on Nitro) and an exhaustive bout of global touring. Don’t expect AFI to reinvent the wheel with their new disc, but do expect this experienced and self-assured outfit to unleash their most coherent collection to date. In a musical climate where the big-budget albums we’re force-fed are often debut efforts by novice acts, count on AFI’s maturity, breadth of influences and curious cross-pollination of styles to separate the men from the boys. With so many crucial pieces in place, it’ll be harder for AFI to fail than to succeed.
AFI play at the Henry Fonda Theater on Tuesday, March 11.