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"AFI is not a straight-edge band"

10 August 2017 | 9:39 am | Mark Hebblewhite

"Most people check out of music as they get older - but there are some lifers out there - I've met people who are actually bringing their grandchildren to our shows."



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"For a long time, we wanted to come to Australia but promoters just didn't want us," chuckles Havok. "Then we had a big record in America and we finally got to tour around 2003 - we've been lucky enough to be able to tour with every album ever since."

Having just released their tenth album in a career that stretches all the way back to 1991, AFI don't even pretend that they can represent every aspect of the band's past. But according to Havok the trick to appeasing the most people as possible is to stay away from an over-regimented approach. "We change the setlist up a little bit every night to keep it interesting for us - it's a matter of whim really. But we're also careful not to double up too much on songs we played the last time in that city - so people who are seeing us again get something different. We also don't like to play for too long. Some bands play for like two hours - but that's too much (laughs) - we keep it at a short and sweet 80 minutes."

Despite the fan expectations that come from having a long career Havok doesn't feel any weight of responsibility. "We like to touch on aspects of who we were - and who we are in each show - but really we don't feel we have to play certain songs unless it's a place we've never been to. We're lucky - our fans are really passionate and know our back catalogue well - it means we have a great range to choose from each show."

So, what does your average AFI fan look like in 2017? Has the band kept fans from their '90s beginnings or even those who jumped on board with Decemberunderground? "Not sure there's many left from the 'Gilman' days," laughs Havok. "Most people check out of music as they get older - but there are some lifers out there - I've met people who are actually bringing their grandchildren to our shows. Otherwise, we've kept fans from all periods of the band's history. I think for the most part it's a testament to what we do and the commitment we have to our music."

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AFI hasn't just managed to keep their fans - they've somehow kept the same line-up since the late '90s - no mean feat when even close-knit peers like Pennywise have seen members go. "I think the most important thing is that we are all still doing it for the same reason we started the band: we are all driven to create good music. We all love what we do and want to make songs we are proud of. I know that sounds cliched - but for us, it's the truth. Aside from that, there's also the fact that the majority of us are drug-free - which allows for a consistency in our behaviour and in the way we interact with each other."

In fact, Havok is so even-keeled he doesn't even feel the need to proselytize his own straight edge beliefs. "I've never shied away from being public about my veganism and straight edge views," he says. "But AFI is not a straight-edge band so we will never use our music to preach to other people. But that said - for me living a compassionate and helpful lifestyle is very important and something I try to do every day."