AFI are almost worshipped by an loyal fanbase worldwide. Chances are, if you’re a 20-something fan of the darker side of alternative rock, they’ve been a major influence on your listening habits. Guitarist Jade Puget recently took some time out to talk to Killyourstereo.com about the band’s upcoming album, ‘Burials,’ the group’s spot on the line-up at Soundwave next year and his side project with Davey Havok, Blaqk Audio.
Thanks for taking the time out to chat to killyourstereo this morning, Jade. How are you doing?
Great! Enjoying a day off in downtown St. Louis.
All right, well let’s kick straight into things. You guys are getting ready to release your new record ‘Burials.’ A month out from release date, how are you feeling about it?
I’m pretty happy with it, you know. It’s been a lot of work making it come to life, so we can’t wait to let you guys hear it.
Given that the album has come out of a period of relative silence for the band, is there any particular statement you’re hoping to make with ‘Burials?’
Not really, hey. Just the statement that we always make, that we’re making music that we love, and that moves us, and hopefully does the same to people that listen to it.
What is it that you think sets this release apart from previous releases?
That’s a bit difficult to answer objectively given that I wrote the music for it, but to me, it doesn’t sound like the previous AFI records. Emotionally it came out of a real dark place, and when I was writing the songs with our singer, it was really just a dark and chaotic time for us to be writing, and I think it reflects that.
You guys got to work with Gil Norton to produce the record, who’s worked with the likes of Jimmy Eat World and the Foo Fighters. What was that like?
It was good, you know. We really loved the records he did with The pixies, and he was just a really great guy. His work kind of spoke for itself as well, and it was a really easy process. He’s a great producer, and great to be around in the studio.
What do you feel he added to the process that wouldn’t have been there otherwise?
I really demoed out all these songs pretty meticulously before we met with Gil, so far as it goes musically, it had pretty much been done. He came in and made sure that what we had written sounded really great! He took all of the drum and guitar sounds and all of that and really took it to the next level.
Are there any artists that you feel you guys drew a specific influence from when writing and recording the record?
No, we’ve never really done that to be honest. At this point, for us to emulate someone else, or to hear someone who’s more current and go, “Oh, we should do something like that” just doesn’t really work for us. We just try to make our own way, and find what we like, and hopefully what our fans will like too.
Are there any tracks from ‘Burials’ that really stand out to you personally? Why?
Yeah, there’s a few that do. There are tracks that stand out and sound like there own thing sort of. There’s a track called ‘Heart Stops’, which doesn’t sound like anything else on the record, and it’s sort of a ‘new wavy’ sound, which I really like. It’s just kind of different for us. The last song on the record, ‘Face Beneath The Waves,’ is a very kind of dark, noisy song, and I really like the lyrics for that one too. So those are probably my favourites.
Like I mentioned earlier, there was a period of relative silence from AFI between the touring cycle of ‘Crash Love’ and the announcement of ‘Burials,’ during which you got to spend a bit of time working on your side project with Davey Havok, Blaqk Audio. What was it like to get to spend some time focussing on that?
It was great to be able to try out some different sounds again. You know, Blaqk Audio is very electronic, and the songwriting is different. It just means that when we came back to AFI, it felt really fresh, ’cause I’m taking up a guitar again rather than doing the whole programming thing, which i think is really important for us at this point, to get into a different mindset for a while, and to come back to what almost feels like a new style of music again.
During this time, Blaqk Audio toured Australia as the support act on Evanescence’s tour. How did you find that?
It was fun. The people in Australia generally give a really good reception and they’re really good natured. I don’t think the people that came up to Evanescence necessarily were into the electronic sound so much. You know, they came to see a rock band, and we’re up there playing dance music. At the same time, they were supportive and it was lots of fun.
Did you find yourself doing much else to keep yourself occupied during that period of time?
I do alot of things. You know, I do songwriting, I compose, I do a lot of remixes, I score. I even write music for commercials when I have the time. As long as it’s music related I guess. That’s all I really ever want to do is anything related to music.
You guys are gracing our shores as part of the Soundwave 2014 lineup in February. How are you guys feeling about that?
Last time was really fun. It sounds like this one’s gonna be pretty different to the last one though. Back then it was like, Jane’s Addiction, and it felt like more of a rock or alternative thing, maybe? And this one seems like it’s a lot more hard rock/metal, so it’ll be a bit of a different riot, but there’s still a lot of great bands playing, so we’re stoked to be involved!
You guys last toured Australia as part of Soundwave back in 2010. Do you have any particular memories that stick out from that tour?
Yeah, for one thing, it was brutally hot! I think that’s something that’s on everyone’s memory from that though. Australia’s great though. It was really good to be on a tour where you fly to all the festival dates. The only place we ever do that is Australia, so that’s pretty unique to be there. We also got to play a one-off show with Mike Patton in between dates, which was pretty cool and interesting. It was pretty cool touring with him in general, actually.
What’s it like for AFI to have been going for over two decades but for you to still be able to be billed so high on such a big festival?
You know, we’re just lucky, and thankful, and grateful for all of this. You know, not many bands get to do what they love for 22 years and we’re very mindful of that. It’s just great to keep on getting out there and playing for people.
Are there any other bands on the festival that you’re particularly excited to play alongside?
I’m more excited to find some new bands, I think. Some stuff I’ve never heard before. I’m always keen to see bands that I haven’t been exposed to, so I think I’m gonna spend some time at the smaller stages this time and see what’s up there.
Do you have any plans to play some headline shows while you’re in the country for Soundwave?
Not that I’m aware of, but it’s still pretty early on, so those could easily be booked later, I’m not sure.
All right, just a couple of quick ones to finish off; favourite track to play live?
That’s really difficult. Because there’s the difference between playing the slower, ballady type songs as opposed to a hard, fast rock song. I’m gonna say ‘Exposure,’ which is one that we’re playing on the current tour, from AFI’s earlier catalogue.
Favourite band to have shared the stage with?
It was great playing with The Cure. Those guys are a long time influence. Oh god, we’ve played a lot of shows. Yeah, I’m gonna stick with The Cure.
Best show you’ve ever seen?
That’s difficult. Probably the first punk show I went to, which was Millions of Dead Cops. I was like, 14 years old, or 13, and it just had a huge impact on me, and I remember every detail of it.
In 22 years, is there any particular story that sticks out as the craziest to happen to you as a part of AFI?
You know, we get asked this question a lot as far as touring. In some ways I think we’re lucky, because we’ve never had anything particularly crazy happen. It’s all been pretty mellow, which is pretty good. It may not make for a great interview, but at the same time, we’re still here 22 years later.
Thanks for taking the time out to chat to killyourstereo this morning, Jade. I hope everything goes well on your current tour, and I can’t wait to catch you guys at Soundwave.
AFI are playing Soundwave 2014 in February. Check out the lineup here.
‘Burials’ is currently slated for release in Australia on October 18.