Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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Dark dynamic rock

By Megan O'Toole
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
"ARE YOU SURE WE LOOK ANGRY ENOUGH?" Taking a break from the gruelling rock life, AFI strike a pose.
Hunter Burgan, bassist for the Bay Area punk quartet AFI, recently took a break from rockin' out to answer The Gazette's 12 Questions.

1) You recently switched over from Nitro to DreamWorks. What is the biggest change you've noticed now that you're working in the majors?

They have a million times more employees. With a smaller label, everyone has more responsibilities. This is our only experience with a major so far, but it's been great.

2) Your recent album, Sing the Sorrow, was guided by the production team of the legendary Butch Vig (Nirvana, Pumpkins) and Jerry Finn (Rancid, Green Day). Do you feel that they captured the essence of what you were trying to do with the album?

Definitely. I think, for the most part, we knew exactly what we wanted, and we found the producers who could take us there. Vig and Finn have amazing track records, and we're very lucky to have had the chance to work with both of them.

3) Aside from the fact that it's on a major label, how does the new album differ from your past releases?

We were able to spend a lot more time writing songs and preparing. In the past, we would generally write songs for two months and record for a month. For this album, we spent over a year writing, and nearly five months in the studio.

4) What is your stance on the MP3 controversy?

I think if kids have never heard us and they're curious, then that's great. I think when it hurts us is when they download the whole CD and burn copies for friends. We take so much time making the record and putting the artwork together, so it's like they're ignoring all that.

5) You are on the cover of this month's Alternative Press. How does it feel to see your face there?

It's weird. A couple of times I've walked past the newsstand and seen my face there, and it feels kind of surreal. It's something I never expected would happen, but I always hoped.

6) In the AP article, you give off the impression that you don't fit into any of the existing musical categories. How would you describe yourself, then, without using these pre-existing categories?

I'd probably say dark, dynamic rock. That's the description I'd give to my dentist, you know, someone who had never heard us before.

7) You are often touted as "goth punk." Does this genre even exist, and if so, what is it?

I don't think it does; I wouldn't know how to describe it. People have to label everything for some reason. But that's definitely not what we are.

8) For you, what are the necessary ingredients of lasting fame?

The ability to reinvent oneself, and have a sense of humour about it all.

9) What do you think about the current wave of reality television, such as American Idol and Pop Stars, that are attempting to create overnight sensations?

It's ridiculous. It's interesting to me that viewers at home are interested in that. I think those shows will pretty much go through a cycle – I don't think it'll be around forever.

10) AFI has never been a mainstream band. Are you dissatisfied with the current state of the mainstream?

Mainstream is just what the majority of people are into, and it's never very cool. I'd like to see more creativity in the mainstream, and fewer clones and formula bands. I think it's possible to change it, but certain business people don't want to do it; they just want to make money.

11) Your music tends to focus on the darker side of life. What is the primary message that you are trying to get across?

Just in general that there's a lot of evil and a lot of bad choices that one can make in today's society. We'd like to let people know that there's hope and that things don't have to be a certain way; they can be how you want them to be.

12) Lastly, how stoked are you for the gig at the Opera House in Toronto tonight?

I'm really excited. It's really fun there, and everyone's always been really enthusiastic in the past.


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