After scoring a hit in 2000 with their first single, "Flavor of the Weak," American Hi-Fi were showered with praise and press. The experience of playing stadiums and landing mainstream radio play influenced frontman Stacy Jones to write the title track of the band's new album, The Art of Losing.
"We started out playing these sh--ty little clubs all over the country, and it was f---ing great," explained Jones. "Then when 'Flavor of the Weak' started getting played, we found ourselves on these bills where we were playing between Dream and the 'Moulin Rouge' chicks. I just remember looking at our guitar player Jamie [Arentzen] one night and going, 'What the f--- are we doing here?' "
The band's frustration fueled the single, which features a shuffling beat, surging, stabbing guitars and subversive pop-punk vocals. Lyrically, "The Art of Losing" is self-deprecating, humorous and defiant, climaxing with the chorus "Hey, ho, let's go/ I'm gonna start a riot, you don't wanna fight it/ One, two, f--- you/ Don't tell me what to do, I don't wanna be like you."
"It represents me and how I've always felt," Jones said. "It's about being the underdog and pressing forward even though people are telling you you should be doing things one way or another. It's just about sticking to your guns even though you're not necessarily succeeding. [When you do that], at least you know that what you're doing is coming from your heart."
A video for "The Art of Losing" was shot in Hays, Kansas, last month by the band's friend Chris Applebaum, who crafted "Flavor of the Week" as well as videos by Willa Ford, Third Eye Blind and Britney Spears. Instead of creating a slick, flashy clip, American Hi-Fi opted for something gritty and real. So they filmed a performance video in the house of a fan in the middle of nowhere and invited the locals to join the party. The decision was inspired by an experience the band had in the town a couple of months earlier.
"We did a show out there at a small college, and it was a four-hour drive from any nearby city, and it was f---ing great," Jones said. "From the stage, I said, 'Who's havin' a party tonight? Because we wanna hang out.' And these guys came up and gave me their address. So we showed up at this guy's house and it was the most rockin' party ever. The living room was packed, and kids were crowd-surfing to Green Day records. So when it came time to shoot the video, I said to Chris, 'Wouldn't it be killer to shoot it in that guy's living room?' "
Jones called party host himself to secure the location. "These guys were like, 'Oh, sh--! We're gonna throw the biggest f---in' party you've ever seen.' And they did. It was insane. The living room was packed and there were 500 people in the front yard and people were coming in the windows."
The experience was memorable for Jones not just because he likes killer parties, but because the band was able to capture a vibe far removed from that of the average polished Hollywood rock video.
"You've seen videos before with bands playing at quote-unquote parties, and there are always these models they cast in L.A., and it just looks cheesy and not real. This is the real f---in' deal. These are kids from Kansas that dig rock and roll, and we're right in the mix with them hanging out and rocking. It was great because we don't think of ourselves as these f---in' rock star dudes. I don't like there to be a line drawn between the band and the fans, because then you start looking like Scott Stapp or the guy from Nickelback — these cock-rock hero types. We don't ascribe to that."