For four years, AFI isn't the only fire Davey Havok and Jade Puget have had inside — they've also been trying to flesh out the debut album by their long-pending side project, Blaqk Audio. Now, finally, the LP is good to go.
"It's very different from AFI," Havok warned us at last weekend's Live Earth concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey (see "Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Alicia Keys Are Out Of This World At Live Earth").
The album, CexCells, has been in the works since 2003 — around the time Havok and Puget told Rolling Stone that they were hoping to release the project in early 2004. When AFI broke into the mainstream with 2003's Sing the Sorrow, Blaqk Audio took a back seat to the constant touring in support of the release. The project stayed on hold while the band recorded 2006's Decemberunderground, which debuted atop the Billboard albums chart.
It wasn't until early 2007 when Havok and Puget finally found time to resume recording. With Havok taking control of the lyrics and vocals, Puget wrote all the music and synthesizer programming. "We worked with each other," Havok said. After that, they handed the reins to producer and engineer David Bascombe (Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears), who mixed the album.
Described on their MySpace page as "two boys in love with synthesizers and software," Blaqk Audio cite electronic-heavy influences including Erasure and Echo & the Bunnymen. "It's all electronic, dancey, dark," Puget explained.
The sound won't be totally unfamiliar to AFI fans, but without the instrumentation of the full band, the side project allows Puget to delve into diverse electronic beats, keyboards and synthesizing, layered with Havok's predictably dark lyrics and vocals.
CexCells finally arrives August 14, and the first single, "Stiff Kittens," has already surfaced at radio and on iTunes.
In the meantime, AFI are already writing again. The guys are known for creating a plethora of material — they began the Decemberunderground recording sessions with upward of 80 songs already written.
"We have enough unreleased songs for an EP," Puget said, "so we're hoping to maybe do an EP [by the end of the year]."
An EP is unlikely to win over many new ears, but AFI don't hide the fact that they're hoping to expand their fanbase and spread their message. They also brush aside criticism that they've "sold out."
"Decemberunderground has brought us to many new people," Havok said. "It's really fantastic for us, because as far as we're concerned, the more the merrier. Anybody that we can reach with our music, anybody that is inspired by our music or appreciates it in any way, we appreciate it and it's fantastic.
"We have very wonderful, accepting, open fans," he continued. "I think they feel that their very, very strong community can only grow stronger with more people who understand and want to be part of what we do."
"We've been doing this for a while," Puget added, "so anyone who's that bitter [about AFI going mainstream] probably doesn't listen to us anymore."