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AFI are one of those rare bands who have mastered the art of retaining attention as they transgress through differing styles with each of their releases.
With their traditional punk rock characteristics and their love for 80s synth pop bops evident in their latest EP The Missing Man, there’s only one word for the Californian rock outfit’s latest work–wow! “That’s a good word,” teases guitarist, Jade Puget.
That title, though, The Missing Man, seems like it might be a metaphor for something else–who is the missing man? “We’ve been teasing that it’s kind of Davey [Havok] in a way,” Puget says of his bandmate and AFI’s vocalist, “We called the EP after that song [of the same name]. I think it has to do lyrically with that song in particular.”
The song itself really pulls back from the action of the rest of the EP with a totally different delivery, and a totally different sentiment. “I had written that song on my acoustic guitar,” says Puget, “Like you say, it is a departure from the rest of the EP.
“I brought it to Davey and we developed into this weird thing we had never done before–even on the bridge of the song, Adam [Carson] is playing bongos, something you’d never thought you’d hear in an AFI song, but I like it! It’s different, and a good way to open the EP.”
And a great way to open the EP is with current single Trash Bat–phwoar! AFI don’t waste any time with that one, frantic and furious and with a brilliant energy. “That made sense for that to be the first song,” Puget says, dissecting his work carefully. “Everyone gets a little moment to shine in that one, I think.”
For years we’ve been saying we don’t want to take years between records, and we’ve been doing it. Finally we’re starting to get it together where we’re not gonna do that anymore, we can actually put music out a little more regularly. Hopefully.
[ Jade Puget ]
Undertaking mixing duties for this AFI release, Puget, though he’s worked in a production role with previous releases and had other producers to turn to to deliberate his creative ideas with, this was the first time he took on such a daunting task. “It was the first I took all these roles on–it was fun but definitely a lot of work!”
A refreshing change for Puget, nonetheless, to blend together the roles of mixing engineer, producer and musician, though to disjoint himself from each of the characteristics of each roles to give each job its full attention would prove to be an additional challenge. “Over the last several years the way I’ve been writing music, I will be doing this stuff anyway. Produce, mix, taken to Davey to work on demos–I’m already doing the work so why not cut out the middleman and make it official, make it an in-band thing?
“It’s kind of scary to take on that role because in the band we’re all equals and I don’t want to tell anyone what to do but as producer, you’re kind of the captain of the ship. You have to navigate that as well. I don’t want to tell Adam or Davey ‘You’ve gotta do this’, we’ve gotta work on things as a team.”
AFI have definitely brought their early driving punk aesthetic in with the retro 80s vibes–we’re getting more and more of that with each release over the last two or three releases, more fluidity with these combinations of styles. “It’s definitely not conscious,” says Puget, “We first started getting people saying that on Decemberunderground .
“To me, and I guess for Davey as well, the most formative thing for us is 80’s music is from when we were kids, and that is important to us in our formative years, and obviously punk is the other formative thing.
“The fact these are being melded into whatever we’re doing now is not surprising–definitely not a conscious thing–but definitely comes from the deepest part of our musical soul, if you will.”
After last year’s The Blood Album release, The Missing Man, at only five tracks long, is all new material and not the dredges left from the previous release—Puget says AFI are constantly writing, hoping to release more music in the same vein as this EP sometime in the New Year. “For years we’ve been saying we don’t want to take years between records, and we’ve been doing it. Finally we’re starting to get it together where we’re not gonna do that anymore, we can actually put music out a little more regularly. Hopefully.”