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AFI's Secret Cali Gigs and a New Album

West Coast punks gamble their original producer can bring sophomore success

May 12, 2006 1:21 PM ET

On June 6th, former Bay-area punk outfit AFI will drop Decemberunderground, the follow-up to their 2003 major label debut Sing the Sorrow. "With each record we end up going into new territory," drummer Adam Carson says about forthcoming effort. "This time around it's a little more electronics oriented. This isn't [to say we're using] disco beats. I don't want to give the impression that we are jumping onboard with a lot of bands that are doing that. If it is dance-y, it's from a different perspective."

After finishing the Sing tour eighteen months ago, the four-piece -- Carson, frontman Davey Havoc, guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter Burgan -- reconvened at their original Bay-area practice space, amassing eighty plus songs in a matter of months. Last May they uprooted to a new base in Southern California to hit the studio with Sing (and former Blink-182) producer Jerry Finn.

"If it's not broken don't fix it," Carson said of working with Finn again. "As a band we really need that objective point of view at times. We can all musically think alike. There's other times where we can think drastically different, so we need that voice of objectivity to make it like, 'You guys are approaching this the wrong way.' As a musical guy [Finn] has a great sense of tone and really knows how to build a record."

One of the songs Finn helped shape was Decemberunderground's first cut, the single "Miss Murder." "It's kind of a heavy, four on the floor beat [with] that kind of pulsing," Carson said. "There's definitely a swing to it and it's definitely a rock song."

Though the band went into the studio with such an abundance of material, it didn't stop them from continuing to write. One of the last tracks written was "Summer Shutter," which came about after Carson thought he'd finished tracking his drum parts. "As much as I wanted to think we were done, a month later -- after I'd been comfortably semi-retired in the album process -- we decided to track this one song," Carson recalls. "At the time I was a little angry about it [but] it ended up making the record. It's kind of a heavier, more groove-oriented rock song which was kind of lacking from the collection we had."

AFI are known for their passionate songs, and Carson said his bandmate Havok -- AFI's primary lyricist -- tapped into feelings of discontent on a number of the tracks. "There's a lot of material that's about feeling somewhat disconnected and isolated and not quite understanding what the rest of the world is doing," he says. "If you look at what's going on out there culturally -- if you watch TV or listen to the radio or read tabloid magazines -- you have a sense of 'Is this really what people want to consume? Is this really what people like?' If you actually accept the fact that that's what the mainstream world passes for art, it's a really sobering thought and its hard not to feel disconnected."

Before jumping on this summer's Vans Warped Tour -- and after a series of secret gigs across California -- AFI is set to perform at radio station festivals later this month. A full-length U.S. tour is also expected this fall.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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