by Jeff Niesel
Before they took a hiatus in 2011, AFI were hugely popular. The punk band played a sold out show at the Agora Theatre in 2006 and album sales even reached platinum levels during its heyday in the mid-2000s. So why did the band take a break?
"As soon as we get off the road, we immediately start writing another album and immediately start recording it," says bassist Hunter Burgan. "That cycle has been going as long as I’ve been in the band. After 14 years of doing that, it was time to take a breath. I think it’s a slightly self-indulgent thing to have a moment to ourselves and establish what we’re doing in our lives, but AFI is a huge part of our lives and it wasn’t long before there was a pull back into that."
The group reconvened earlier this year and start recording its new album, Burials, at the same California studio where the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds. The band performs tonight at House of Blues.
The new album's first single, "I Hope You Suffer," is a moody number that sounds a bit like the Cure. Burgan says it's not necessarily indicative of what the rest of the album, due out next month, will sound like.
"The album has a whole lot of different stuff on it in terms of sound and moods," he says. "There are certain emotions in “Suffer” that are carried throughout most of the album. I don’t know that any one track gives you an idea of what the whole album will be. That’s a good thing. There’s a good range within the album."
While group members battle the usual assortment of demons — depression, anxiety, etc. — during their time off, Burgan says he's happy to be back on the road even if it's gotten much tougher to sell records now that the music industry is in a terrible slump.
"Something that is enduring is that people love music and we love to play music," he says. "As long as that’s the case, we’ll figure out a way to overcome the challenges. Ten or 20 years ago, it was easy for bands to sell records. Now, nobody sells any records at all. That was used as a benchmark for success in the past. I feel like that’s not the case anymore. As long as we stay connected to the audience in some way, I feel like that’s the most important thing whether that’s through selling records or performances or whatever it is. We played a warm-up show at the Troubadour the other night and it was first show we played together in three years. I’m still a little sore. There were a few muscles I haven’t used in the past three years, but it’s made me so excited to get out and play these songs on the road again."