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AFI's Jade Puget: Being Saddled With The "Goth Punk" Label Was Unfortunate

It has been three years since the last time AFI tore across the US on tour. The diehard fans that follow this alt-rock force have been anxiously awaiting their return ever since; now Tempe is next on the list, and the band hasn't missed a beat.

This Sunday, A Fire Inside will be rocking the faces off concertgoers at the Marquee, and there will be plenty of buzz in the air about AFI's forthcoming album, Burials, which will be released the following Tuesday.

Burials has already garnered many positive reactions from fans nationwide, and the album is certainly the latest high mark for a band with two decades of creative music in the books. Up on the Sun spoke with AFI guitarist Jade Puget leading up to his Tempe appearance about the new album, pigeonholing his band and a look back on his career.

Are you excited for the release of Burials? It's a culmination of quite a bit of work. Davey [Havok; AFI lead singer] and I wrote this record for a year, plus going in the studio to record and then waiting for it to come out. Now that it's finally here we're so excited.

You're playing some of the new tracks live already, right? Yeah, we're playing two new songs, because people have only heard those two. We're one of those bands that doesn't like to play stuff that people haven't heard, because people just kind of stand around when they don't know what you're playing.

What is your favorite track on the new album? It's a pretty eclectic record, so there are a lot of different sounding songs, but I'd say "The Face Beneath the Waves" is one of my favorites. It closes the record out, and it's a long, epic, dark, and kind of noisy song.

On that note--what is your favorite song, old or new, to play live and let loose on your guitar? [laughs] Well, once again, playing a slow ballad is a lot different than playing a fast song and they all have things about them that are fun to play. As far as letting loose on my guitar, there's a song called "Dancing Through Sunday" where I have a guitar solo. I don't have that many solos, but when I do they're pretty outrageous. So, that one is always fun.

AFI is well known for a powerful live performance. What can fans expect to see at your show on this tour? We're just going to do what we always do, and that is giving it our all. It's been three years, which is the longest break we've ever taken, so when we got back on the stage I didn't really know what to expect. But that first show was one of the best we've ever played. I feel like we've been better than ever and the response has been crazy to all the shows. I'm excited about it.

With Burials, were you trying to achieve something different than on previous albums? We're always trying to push the boundaries on what we do as a band. And me, being one of the song writers, I try to do something different and that challenges me. When we were writing this record, our singer [Davey Havok] was going through a pretty crazy, dark time in his life. So, he's writing lyrically and I wanted to do something that matched that, and that's the direction we took.

After you joined AFI, the band began to be categorized as Horror Punk. Do you agree or would you choose a different classification? Yeah, that's definitely not accurate. The really unfortunate term we were saddled with was Goth Punk, which isn't even a real genre of music, but the Horror Punk thing was like the Misfits. And I know that AFI used to cover the Misfits, but a lot of that happened before I joined the band. I think a lot of what we got called was because of how our singer looked, and not because of the music.

We never wrote any Horror Punk songs, ever. People usually go for classifications and they look at your singer and he's wearing makeup and latex clothes, so they think "this guy looks Goth, so they must be a Goth band." Every band faces that, I think, so it's just part of the game.

The five short black and white videos released this year leading up to the first single were awesome and effectively creepy--almost like a horror movie. [laughs] Yes... With those, we had initially talked about doing in the studio video, kind of like every band does. We thought, "You know, that's just so common, and I don't want to see a band in the studio really. Let's do something else." So, we wanted to do something visual and I had been collecting all these visual ideas for a long time, like photographs and other things that I thought looked cool.

Then we hired these two guys, and basically I gave them a folder of photographs as a starting point and they took it from there. They created these great visual videos that are supposed to be representative of the darkness of the record.

Well, I liked them a lot. Are you a fan of horror cinema? I am. I love horror movies, although I'm constantly disappointed by them. Every time there is a new one coming out, I think it's going to be good and it never is. I don't know why. It's the one genre of movie that is consistently bad [laughs]. Every once in a while there is a good one.

There is a diehard AFI fanbase. Can you try to sum up your fans for me? It's hard to describe them because they are such an eclectic bunch. When you go to an AFI show, you see so many different people from so many different walks of life. As a whole, I hope they are in to us not because if we are popular or not, but because of our music. That is why I want people to be fans of the band. If the music connects to you then I hope that's why you're there.

I have to tell you, the first AFI album that I owned was Decemberunderground and I loved it. I broke it and had to buy another copy. [laughs] That's awesome.

That was your first number one album, right? Yep, seven years ago now.

How have you grown since that album? I like to hope that success hasn't affected us too bad. As long as you aren't trying to write hits or trying to be part of a trend and stay true to what you're doing, then I think that's what counts. We definitely have grown.

You can hear the last two records we've done are different than Decemberunderground. That record was a number one record and we could say, "Well, we've found a successful formula, so let's just keep making songs like that." That would be easy, but to me that's not what an artist does. It's about trying to grow.

Do you keep any projects on the side going? Yeah, Davey and I have Black Audio. We've been doing that for over a decade now. I do a lot of stuff on the side like programming, remixing, songwriting and stuff like that. I like to score commercials and do sound design.

I read that you just celebrated your one year wedding anniversary, so congratulations on that. Thank you. Yes, that was exciting.

Is your wife a fan of AFI? She is...Yeah...It's kind of hard to describe it, because you don't want your wife to be like a super-fan because that would be weird.

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But at the same time you don't want her to not like what you do. So, she like perfectly fits in between those two categories and finds that balance.

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