This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Plenty has changed about AFI over the years.
The sound is certainly different, with the punk and hardcore aesthetic of the early days largely having given way to melodic alt-rock on more recent releases.
And the look has changed plenty, too well, at least for frontman Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget, anyway. Drummer Adam Carson and bassist Hunter Burgan look pretty much the same as they did at least a decade ago.
One thing that hasn't changed, Puget said in a phone interview with the Tribune to promote Friday night's appearance at The Complex in Salt Lake City, is the band's guiding purpose.
"Back then, we were all young guys living in one sort of squat house in Berkeley, just happy to go out and be able to tour and have any people there to listen to us. In that way, the reasons that we started doing this are kind of the same," he said. "That's one thread, one continuity that's been with us this whole time. We do it just because we love music, and we never started this band or they didn't start it and we didn't continue it in order to make money or be popular. Those things just kind of came along slowly for us. Our motivations have remained the same, which is something I'm proud of."
Another thing that hasn't changed has been Puget's substantial role in AFI.
The band has been around for 25 years, and while Puget wasn't a founding member (he joined in 1998), his impact was apparent from his first day.
"When I joined AFI, I came in immediately as the primary songwriter, which was a little bit daunting because I knew that whatever I did could ruin the band if I wasn't writing good material and fans didn't like it. It was just a lot on my shoulders," Puget said. "… I actually also injected a lot of melodicism in there, because I'd come out of bands that played way more melodic music. So I was never scared of that. … You know, it's a lot easier to write an aggressive punk song than it is to write something that has melodic hooks. So how do you grow as a songwriter? It's more challenging to do that, so that's something that I gravitated towards."
Puget has accepted more challenges and continued to grow over the years.
He officially took on the producer mantle for the group's latest recording, "The Blood Album," which was released in January.
By the time AFI got working on its previous album, "Burials," Puget and Havok were crafting "increasingly detailed demos" that "almost could be released in their own right as a record."
The band soon saw that with all the pre-production Puget was already doing, it was silly to continue making records the same old way they always had.
"We would just hire a producer and sort of, in many ways, just re-create the demos. And so we thought, 'Why do that? Let's just cut out the middle man and have me produce.' Even though I didn't necessarily want to take on all that extra work, I just figured it's already happening this way, so we might as well just try it," he said. "… It actually went way better than I could have hoped for."
The primary reason for that, he said, is that everyone trusted each other to just keep doing their jobs.
He went in cognizant that a change in established roles too often can shift the unique dynamic and chemistry of a band, and was therefore determined not to allow the "Produced by Jade Puget" line that would subsequently appear on the back cover of the album to fundamentally alter anything.
"You know, bands are weird. Band guys, no matter what band it is it's a very touchy thing with the creative process. But when I took on the producer role, I tried not to be in there telling people what to do and being overbearing," he said. "These guys know what they're doing at this point. They know how to play their instruments. So I just tried to shepherd it, since I wrote all the music. I just guided it to where it needed to go without scolding people and being an overlord!"
Meanwhile, he said there's a very simple reason why "The Blood Album" seems to have a more joyful tone to it than "Burials" did.
With "Burials," he noted: "Davey was in a dark place in his life when we started making that record. It was the winter, so it was actually kind of physically bleak. … The tones on it were murky and distorted and reverbed out. The whole sound of it was dark, and lyrically, the content was dark.
"And so, 'The Blood Album' couldn't help but be more positive," Puget added. "[Havok] was in a more positive place, and the lyrics reflected that. The music was a little more buoyant there's obviously still some dark stuff on there but I think this record has a more hopeful vibe to it. … Everything that was surrounding the making of the record was relaxed and had this creative flow to it."
While the eternal pessimist in him still nitpicks at specific decisions he made "I'm never happy! The second it's too late to change anything, I'm like, 'Oh my god why did I do that? Why is that like that?' " in the end, he came away pleased with what he and his bandmates accomplished.
"I am proud that we're still able to this far into our career create music that is at least relevant to us and inspiring and not just clinging to things we did two decades ago," he said.
No, there's plenty of moving forward.
Of course, some things about AFI will always remain the same for instance, that they will never remain the same.
"We have been changing, sometimes so drastically, from record to record over the band's 25-year history really, every record is something different. People know that about us now," Puget said. "If you're not willing to follow us on whatever kind of musical journey that we're on, I think those kind of fans probably fell off a long time ago. And our fans now that are still with us, they know that this is how it goes with AFI."
With Circa Survive, Citizen
When • Friday; doors 6:30 p.m., show 7:30
Where • The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $29.50-$32; Ticketfly
Note • Event has been moved to The Complex from Saltair. All previously purchased tickets will be honored.