AFI revs up its rock sound on "Crash Love"

Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:08pm EDT
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By Mikael Wood

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - When the members of AFI began work on their 2006 album, "Decemberunderground," they "tried really hard not to think about it as the follow-up to a big successful record," guitarist Jade Puget says.

Of course, that's precisely what it was: "Decemberunderground" came three years after "Sing the Sorrow," the band's major-label debut and the album that introduced AFI to a mainstream audience 12 years after it formed in Ukiah, California. Driven by the rock-radio hit "Girl's Not Grey," "Sorrow" became the band's first platinum set; it has sold 1.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the band's low-pressure mind-set, "Decemberunderground" went on to sell 993,000 copies, and it produced AFI's biggest single, "Miss Murder," which peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. So when Puget and his bandmates set out to make a follow-up to their second "big successful record," they figured it made sense to take the same approach.

The result, "Crash Love" (due September 29 from DGC/Interscope), is a more straightforward rock album than the synth-heavy "Decemberunderground."

"Strategizing to write hits is such a downfall for bands," Puget says. "Try too hard and often it doesn't happen. We didn't want to follow the template and write 'Miss Murder 2' in order to maintain our popularity and sales. We just wanted to make a good document of where we are."


Singer Davey Havok attributes the shift in sound on this album to the release in 2007 of "CexCells" by his and Puget's electronic duo Blaqk Audio. "When Jade and I started writing 'Crash Love' we'd just come off the tour for 'CexCells,' so sitting down and starting to create music with guitars was unexpectedly refreshing. It was exciting to play rock music again."

"I got the feeling, especially with Blaqk Audio, that people were expecting us to head more in that electronic direction," Puget says. "They thought we might be Depeche Mode on this record. But that's not where we wanted to go."   Continued...

<p>Davey Havok, lead singer of the band AFI, performs with his band during the New York Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey July 7, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>