"We wanted visuals that were as stark as the music itself," says AFI frontman Davey Havok of the Drew Kirsch–directed clip for "White Offerings."
The video, premiering today at Rolling Stone, finds Havok, guitarist Jade Puget, bassist Hunter Burgan and drummer Adam Carson blasting their way through the muscular song – an advance single from the forthcoming AFI (The Blood Album), the band's 10th full-length and first since 2013's Burials – on an all-white set studded by white geometric shapes, while black paint drips down onto white roses and statues. After attending a miserable banquet-for-one, Havok ends the song with a mic drop, then walks past the slate to stare directly into the camera for several uncomfortable seconds.
We spoke with Havok about the "White Offerings" video, as well as what fans can expect from AFI (The Blood Album) – out January 20th – and his thoughts on AFI turning 25.
The video has a very stylized look to it. Was that your idea, or the director's?
That was the director's concept. For "White Offerings," we were looking for a performance video, but we also wanted moments that touched on the themes of the song, and something that was visually striking. When we saw [Kirsch's] treatment, we thought it really did a good job of drawing in those themes of connection, imperceptions, incompatibility and transference that you hear in the lyrics.
I love how you break the fourth wall at the end of it.
Thank you. That was something we created as a way to connect that moment into the "Snow Cats" video, which is yet to be finished. It's certainly an uncomfortable song, so to bring a little discomfort to the viewer is certainly a positive thing, even if it's just from having to look at me look at you – which is always uncomfortable! [Laughs]
As with a lot of the songs on AFI (The Blood Album), there's almost a joyful rush to the music of "White Offerings," which is something that was noticeably absent on Burials.
You're not the first person who's noted that, though I hadn't noticed that myself. I do recognize that, in comparison, it is a less bleak record than Burials. However, detached from that relationship, it is still quite a dark record. But I guess, again, the singer's not thinking of anybody but himself and what he's singing. So if those guys were joyously playing, I didn't notice! [Laughs]
But yes, there is a different tone to this record, musically and lyrically, which I think is the result of us writing more songs in that vein – most likely because it was our natural inclination to do something different from the last record.
You and Adam formed AFI in 1991. How does it feel to be in a band that's hit the quarter-century mark?
Yeah, we're 25 years old! That was pressed upon me the other night, when a young man came up to me and asked if I was Davey Havok. I said, "I think so," and he said, "Wow, man, it's so great that you're still doing it – a lot of bands wouldn't still be going at this point. How long have you been doing it?" And I said, "Well, 25 years. How old are you?" And he said, "18." [Laughs]
Do not get me wrong – that is awesome that an 18-year-old kid cares about something that I'm making. But it is not awesome that I still feel 18, and I have to be confronted with the fact that I could have biologically fathered this person around the time I made my fifth record! [Laughs]
Then again, it's pretty awesome that you are "still doing it."
Oh, yeah. It sounds trite, but I am truly so grateful that we are able to do this. I started doing something out of love when I was a very young teenager, and committed myself to doing it for the rest of my life with no thought or hope of any commercial success, no hope of any sort of wide range of acceptance or reach. And to be able to play music and do what I love, and still have people care – to be releasing my 10th record, and having an 18-year-old rock kid come up to me and say that he respects what I do – it's amazing. I don't use that word loosely, but it is actually amazing to me.