The reasons why longtime underground rock act AFI signed with major label DreamWorks aren’t surprising – bigger video budgets, global distribution, press machine.
However, drummer Adam Carson tells Billboard.com it’s what the band doesn’t partake in that defines the musically intense outfit.
“We wanted to make sure we were in bed with a company we felt good about, to make sure there were no surprises, make sure that everyone was working for us, and we approved of the way they go about doing their work,” says Carson. “And maybe, more so than other bands, instead of taking the free drinks and the strip clubs, we chose to sit down and really talk to them about the nuts and bolts of the company.”
The biggest noticeable major label perk associated with the band’s recent release “Sing the Sorrow,” is the use of high-profile producers Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins) and Jerry Finn (Rancid, Green Day). While AFI made concerted efforts to maintain its indie credibility, the use of the two industry giants could be construed as a calculated attempt at mainstreaming its music.
“It’s quite a dream team,” says Carson. “I think that any record with Jerry Finn and Butch Vig is going to garner a little more attention from the industry. That certainly doesn’t hurt and we certainly weren’t bothered by the fact. However, far superceding that is the fact that those two people working on our record are going to affect the record in a really positive way. And ultimately, it is a much better record because they worked on it. And in a small way, it is nice that people are impressed by that, but that wasn’t the main motivation.”
Something new to the foursome is the heavy airplay being garnered by the single “Girl’s Not Grey,” which is No. 8 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks airplay tally. Having cultivated a strong fan base nationwide based on nothing more than the merits of its music, AFI is now dealing with the increased spotlight.
“We’ve been a band for a really long time, and for the majority of the lifetime of the band, we’ve been largely ignored by mainstream press,” says Carson. “We’ve always existed just below the mainstream and we’ve cultivated this pretty large fan base without anyone really noticing. So, it is nice with the new record to capture people’s attention at a time when the band feels like it has matured, and is in a good place to present itself for the world.”