When AFI (A Fire Inside) hit the road in support of its DreamWorks release, Sing The Sorrow, it was pretty much business as usual.

When the album debuted at No. 5 on SoundScan’s Top 200 album chart in March, frontman Davey Havok, drummer Adam Carson, guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter had already logged enough tour miles to make a frequent flier jealous with seven years on the road.

The fact that the mainstream world had “discovered” the underground stars was just icing on an already awesome cake.

“We basically grew up on the road. We weren’t going to be disappointed if we didn’t get this far, but we were always working toward it,” Carson told POLLSTAR. “We subscribe to the concept that if you play to a town with 10 people, the next time you go back, there’ll be 15 or 20 people. At least, that’s been true for us.”

Indeed, AFI continues to sell out venues across the nation on this tour, which includes co- headlining the Vans Warped Tour with Rancid, and treks overseas.

Since the band was co-founded by Havok and Carson around 1991 while living in Ukiah, Calif., Havok and Puget’s collaborations guided the band’s evolution from playing mostly punk and hardcore to weaving those sounds with a mix of influences that has been compared to Pink Floyd and Dead Can Dance.

Havok said signing with DreamWorks came at a time the band was ready to leave the “independent world” and find a major label that was compatible with their vision.

“We really felt … that [DreamWorks] truly would be there for us whether or not we recorded an album that sold 300,000 or 3 million copies as opposed to 30,000,” Havok said.” We feel this label is very supportive of our views and what we want to do artistically.”

The band members applied the same criteria in their search for a manager, who turned out to be John Silva of SAM Entertainment.

“While we were meeting with about five or six different labels, we were also meeting with five or six management companies. John happened to be one of the them who was interested in us. And, like all the rest of management, we grilled him, asked him a million questions.

“We really feel that he understands us, and he has a great history of the acts that he’s chosen to work with, The Mars Volta, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and Jimmy Eat World,” Havok said.

As the band continued to mature on the road and onstage, AFI learned the ins and outs, and pitfalls, of booking a tour before signing with agent Stormy Shepherd in the early ’90s.


Shepherd met Havok at a club in Berkeley, Calif., where her client, Rancid, was playing. She initially turned Havok down when he asked her to book a tour.

“What was important to me was that they had a little more appreciation and understanding of what went on with booking a tour,” Shepherd told POLLSTAR. “They’re on top of their game now because they did put out their own records and book their own tours.”

Carson said that first tour was memorable in more ways than one.

“[Shepherd] was real helpful in giving Dave certain numbers and contacts. From those, he basically booked our first tour,” he said. “It was not the easiest tour in the world. Every second show or third show was canceled. We’d show up and there’d be one flyer pinned to the wall. [It was] very under-promoted and just kind of a catastrophe, but it was also one of the best times of my life.”

The loyal underground following that AFI has enjoyed in its 12-plus years of existence continues, with new fans coming to shows at each stop, further energizing what has already been described as a primal experience.

“First and foremost, [playing live] is absolutely something that we love. It’s just who we are as people, and we really define ourselves with the band,” Carson said. “We’ve worked at this for a long time. It doesn’t really feel like work because everything is going so smoothly and the shows are so amazing.”

Shepherd said plans are also in the works to book tours in Australia, South Africa and South America as well as return trips to Canada and Japan.

“There’s a lot of territory out there that they want to cover, but they want to be careful and build a foundation,” she said. “They really want to make sure they have a long career in each of these places.”

Havok and Carson both agreed that while the crowds may be bigger and the production a bit grander, they’re at home on the road and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“We’re coming into this … where we know exactly what we want to do and are comfortable sounding exactly like we want to,” Carson said. “We’re not concerned about whether or not people are going to accept it or reject it. We’ve been accepted and rejected a million times by a ton of people.

“It’s really rewarding, especially after all this time. I think we’re a band who’s definitely earned our place.”