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Music / AFI

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I can't stand my laughter as they cry
My soul brings tears to angelic eyes.
"God Called In Sick Today"

AFI (A Fire Inside) is an American alternative rock band, formed in 1991. Originally formed as a Hardcore Punk revivalist band, they continued much in the same way for their first three albums: Answer That and Stay Fashionable, Very Proud of Ya, and Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes. Then things took a different turn.

On their 1999 album Black Sails in the Sunset, they supplemented their hardcore sound by experimenting with Goth Rock influences. This trend would continue with their next two albums, The Art of Drowning, which also brought in industrial elements, and Sing the Sorrow, which became AFI's breakthrough album and reaching #5 on the Billboard charts. Then Decemberunderground came around. While somewhat lighter in tone, it was a major success and produced some of AFI's most popular songs, such as "Miss Murder" and "Endlessly She Said".

Crash Love was stated to be a "straightforward rock record" by the band, with a New Wave feel and focus on catchy, more upbeat songs. However, it caused some alarm due to perceived abandonment of their hardcore roots. Their 2013 album Burials continues that merger of styles, featuring a dark, operatic feel to most of the songs.

Not to be confused with the American Film Institute. Lead singer Davey Havok and lead guitarist Jade Puget also head an electronic side project, Blaqk Audio and a Hardcore Punk side project, XTRMST.

Current members:

  • Davey Havok – lead vocals (1991–present)
  • Adam Carson – drums, backing vocals (1991–present)
  • Hunter Burgan – bass guitar, keyboards, programming, backing vocals (1997–present)
  • Jade Puget – lead guitar, keyboards, programming, backing vocals (1998–present)

Former members:

  • Vic Chalker – bass, backing vocals (1991–92)
  • Geoff Kresge – bass, backing vocals (1992–97)
  • Mark Stopholese – guitars, backing vocals (1991–98)

Studio discography:

  • Answer That and Stay Fashionable (1995)
  • Very Proud of Ya (1996)
  • Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes (1997)
  • Black Sails in the Sunset (1999)
  • The Art of Drowning (2000)
  • Sing the Sorrow (2003)
  • Decemberunderground (2006)
  • Crash Love (2009)
  • Burials (2013)
  • AFI (The Blood Album) (2017)
  • Bodies (2021)

Kiss my tropes and lay me to sleep:

  • Album Title Drop: Answer That and Stay Fashionable in "Don't Make Me Ill" and Decemberunderground in "The Interview". Partially also Very Proud of Ya in "Consult My Lover", though the line is actually "Very proud of you".
  • Anachronic Order: Possibly. "The Leaving Song Part II" is placed before "The Leaving Song" on Sing the Sorrow.
  • Angry Dance: Davey loves to thrash about in a non-threatening but aggressive and almost acrobatic way when he's on stage.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Strength Through Wounding", "Miseria Cantare (the Beginning)"
  • Balcony Speech: Davey does one of these in the "Miss Murder" video.
  • Careful with That Axe
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: From Crash Love, "I Am Trying Very Hard to Be Here" is a vain, sassy song about being recognized everywhere and living as a persona.
    • Crash Love as a whole is a look at society's obsession with celebrity.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: One of their old songs, "Cereal Wars", is about loving extremely sweet breakfast cereals so much that it's impossible to decide which one to pick at the supermarket, and being upset that the supermarket has stopped carrying the sugariest brands. Davey even wishes he could eat the Trope Namer with Calvin and Hobbes.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Cruise Control", albeit not to the extent of most examples.
  • Color Motif: Most of their albums' physical packages and discs have distinct color setups that match the mood of the album, such as the burning red of Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes, the amber and gold of Crash Love, and the brownish grey of Burials. Their website changes accordingly to suit the new theme.
  • Concept Album: Not hard-and-fast examples; Word of Godinvoked states that the major themes of Decemberunderground and Crash Love are isolation and society's obsession with celebrity and instant gratification, respectively. The All Hallow's E.P. could be considered one of these, though arguably only half of it ("Halloween" and "Fall Children")" would really count. Similarly, Sing the Sorrow is about death and rebirth, while Burials is about the emotional fallout of a failed relationship.
  • Cover Version: "Halloween", "Demonomania" and "Last Caress" by The Misfits, "The Hanging Garden" by The Cure, "Don't Change" by INXS, "Jack the Ripper" by Morrissey, "Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails, "My Michelle" by Guns N' Roses, "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie, "Man in a Suitcase" by The Police, "Today's Lesson" by Filth and "Song 2" by Blur.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: The video for "Medicate".
  • Drugs Are Bad: The use of drugs by companions is mourned in songs like "Clove Smoke Catharsis" and "Veronica Sawyer Smokes". AFI follow a Straight Edge lifestyle and are resolutely against drugs.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Lampshaded in this comic.
  • Emo Music: Of classic/Post-Hardcore variety. They were also a key Trope Codifier in the early 2000s post-hardcore scene along with Thursday, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, particularly with Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Most of the band members, past and present, went to the same high school. The band was actually formed during lunch in the cafeteria.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Torch Song"
  • Genre Mashup: Their later albums get into this. Black Sails in the Sunset has several songs with Goth Rock elements in it, The Art of Drowning has a couple songs with industrial intros, Sing the Sorrow continues to build on these two genres while having a few unique departures of its own such as "Dancing Thru Sunday" which outright has Jade playing a Heavy Metal style shred solo, while Decemberunderground adds more "mainstream" elements while still continuing with a similar sound to STS. Burials is an outright modern Goth Rock record, with layered production and keyboards.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Spanish in "The Leaving Song, Part II" and "Love Like Winter"
  • Hidden Track: "No Dave Party" (pre-gap track), "Battled", "Midnight Sun", "This Time Imperfect" after the last track, "And Then I'll Be Back Home" after "Affliction".
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Davey has 'em. (They say "Ciao Baby".)
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 2.
  • Loudness War: Burials has got to be their least earphones-friendly track. There are lots of complex background parts, especially in songs' choruses, not one of which is quiet or calm. The mix is a little bit messy.
  • Love Is a Drug: "Medicate" is about this, more or less.
  • Love Nostalgia Song: "The Days of the Phoenix" is not too far into their career, but still very nostalgic for their super-early concert days, and a particular lovely girl.
  • The Makeover: Davey retooled his personal appearance prior to the release of Crash Love. Sporting a moderate beard and mustache bordered by Perma-Stubble, he looks more masculine, and tones down the width of his large jaws.
    • His hair has changed distinctly between each album since The Art of Drowning.
    • The band's clothing motifs has also changed, from the white of Decemberunderground to the suits of Crash Love to now the leather and black of Burials.
  • Master Poisoner: The story in the "Beautiful Thieves" video is murky and bizarre, but the band ends up killing all the happy, obnoxious, pretty people at the banquet by poisoning their drinks with ease.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Too many examples to list. They usually have at least one song per album that averts this. Burials is the one with most aversions.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: "37mm".
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: Mentions are made of wrist restraints in "Kiss and Control", and "The Interview" references an honest-to-god OBS, "Master and Servant" by Depeche Mode. Then there's "Dream of Waking"...
    • A large portion of Side Project Blaqk Audio's songs are these, especially "Graphic Violence" off of Material.
  • Obsession Song: "Carcinogen Crush"
  • Precision F-Strike: "Death of Seasons" and "I Hope You Suffer" have one well-placed F-word each for emotion, and "Cereal Wars" has two for comedy.
  • Older Than They Look: Davey and Jade both fit the bill. Davey has the general appearance and energy of a man in his late twenties-early thirties despite being 40, and Jade's haircut makes him look far younger than he actually is (Jade is the oldest in the band).
  • Punny Name: "Yurf Rendenmein"
  • Putting on the Reich: Davey playing a fascist dictator in the "Miss Murder" video. The video got some criticism, presumably from people who didn't know the whole band are hardcore left-wing activists.
  • Religion Rant Song: "The Prayer Position", "Smile", "Sacrilege", and a few others, are all plain exhausted with the bad things religion allegedly brings, and hopeful for a world without it.
  • Shout-Out: to Beetlejuice in "The Despair Factor", Goodfellas in the "He Who Laughs Last" video (the "as far back as I can remember..." line) and Alice in Wonderland in the "Girl's Not Grey" video. Also to Reservoir Dogs on the Answer That and Stay Fashionable album cover; the album title itself is a line from the short film Bad News Tour. "Veronica Sawyer Smokes" is a big one to Heathers.
  • Solo Side Project: Davey and Jade started a side project called Blaqk Audio, releasing an album called Cex Cells. They later started another side project called XTRMST, releasing a self-titled album.
    • Davey also has a New Wave band called Dreamcar that he founded with all the members of No Doubt who aren't Gwen Stefani.
  • The Something Song: "The Leaving Song", "The Leaving Song, Part II", "Torch Song"
  • Special Guest: Dexter Holland of The Offspring provides uniquely emotional vocals on "The Prayer Position", "Clove Smoke Catharsis" and "God Called In Sick".
  • Spoken Word in Music: again, on "Answer That and Stay Fashionable"
  • Stage Names: Davey Havok
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Jade in "The Interview"
  • Stop and Go: In "The Despair Factor".
  • Surreal Music Video: "Snow Cats" off of The Blood Album has a trippy video with mirror images of the band playing, the camera zooming into the band members' eyes and mouths, slow-mo shots at points, and uncomfortable angles.
  • Take a Third Option: When the band had their pick of producers for Sing The Sorrow, they were torn between Butch Vig and Jerry Finn. They ended up hiring both, and apparently they complimented each other quite well. Butch focused on making sure tracks were technically sound, while Jerry Finn focused on content and how a song "felt" overall.
  • The Bus Came Back: Former guitarist Geoff Kresge contributed backing vocals to Sing The Sorrow.
  • Title by Number: "3 1/2", "6 to 8", "Prelude 12/21", "Greater Than 84"
  • Underwater Kiss: The end of the video for "Love Like Winter".
  • Vocal Evolution: There's a big difference between Davey's voice on Answer That and Stay Fashionable and his voice today, partially due to changing his singing style and the fact that people's voices naturally deepen somewhat over time.