Although they didn't reach platinum status until 2003, hardcore punk revivalists AFI originally formed in 1991, when the band's four founding members -- vocalist Davey Havok, guitarist Markus Stopholese, bassist Vic Chalker, and drummer Adam Carson -- were attending high school in Ukiah, CA. Chalker was replaced by Geoff Kresge after eight months, and the band played several local gigs and released a split 7", Dork, with fellow Ukiah natives Loose Change (a band that incidentally included future AFI member Jade Puget). An EP titled Behind the Times was released as well. The bandmembers then split up to attend different colleges, with Kresge temporarily moving to New Jersey to join Blanks 77. However, AFI reconvened during a holiday break to play a one-off reunion show, and audience response was so positive that the bandmembers decided to quit school and concentrate on music full-time.
AFI (whose abbreviation has been said to stand for "A Fire Inside," "Asking for It," and "Anthems for Insubordinates") issued several singles before securing a record deal with the Nitro label, which issued the band's second album, Very Proud of Ya, in 1996. Two LPs followed in 1997 -- a re-release of their 1995 debut, Answer That & Stay Fashionable, and Shut Your Mouth & Open Your Eyes -- and personnel shifts ensued. Kresge was the first to leave, being replaced by bassist Hunter Burgan, and Stopholese departed in favor of ex-Redemption 87 guitarist Jade Puget, who then shared songwriting duties with Havok. The new lineup recorded an EP titled A Fire Inside in 1998, and issued a noticeably more mature full-length in 1999, Black Sails in the Sunset; 1999 also saw the release of the All Hallow's EP before The Art of Drowning followed a year later. Though already owning a fiercely loyal core base of fans, the latter album saw the band's music attracting an even larger audience, due in part to the moderate success of the single "Days of the Phoenix." Accordingly, it was the first album to chart in the Billboard 200.
At the onset of the new millennium, AFI hooked up with producers Jerry Finn and Garbage's Butch Vig for a new set of recording sessions. The end result was the ambitious Sing the Sorrow, AFI's major-label debut for DreamWorks, which showcased the band's significant growth from its early hardcore days. Released in 2003, the record also marked AFI's crossover into the mainstream, and Sing the Sorrow eventually went platinum as several singles found airplay on MTV. Working again with Jerry Finn (who had also produced records for blink-182 and Green Day), the band's follow-up release was its most labor-intensive to date, resulting from two years of detailed songwriting. Decemberunderground, AFI's seventh album, surfaced in 2006 on the Interscope label. The album was an instant success, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts and launching a summer-long tour, followed by a string of overseas performances in October.
While on tour, Havok and Puget dedicated their spare time to a side project that would eventually become Blaqk Audio, which they debuted in early 2007. AFI released the concert album I Heard a Voice: Live from Long Beach Arena later that same year, but the bandmates continued pursuing their own projects, with Hunter Burgan playing bass for several other bands while Jade Puget did remix work for the likes of the Cure. AFI properly reconvened in 2008 to begin writing new material; by November, they had announced their intention to begin recording with producer David Bottrill. Two months later, they traded Bottrill for a pair of new producers -- Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee -- and continued working on the album, focusing on songs that were harder than those found on Decemberunderground. The result, Crash Love, was released in September 2009. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi