AFI’s Davey Havok: The 10 songs that changed my life

AFI frontman Davey Havok dives into his rather gothic record collection…

AFI’s Davey Havok: The 10 songs that changed my life
Mischa Pearlman
Grizzlee Martin

A deep dive into the fierce and fascinating darkness of AFI frontman Davey Havok's world. Warning: contains gratuitous gothicness…

The first song that I remember hearing...

Unknown – Mister Moon (Unknown)

“It was a song my grandfather used to sing to me as a child. I believe it’s a World War II song. I don’t know who wrote it and I’m not sure that anyone knows. It’s an American standard, of sorts. He used to sing it to me about what I perceived to be the moon at the time, but I think it has a much deeper meaning as a World War II campfire-type song.”

The song that reminds me of childhood...

Devo – Peek-A-Boo! (1982)

“When I was young I was gifted a single speaker boombox for a birthday and three cassette albums by Men At Work, Devo and Duran Duran. I remember Peek-A-Boo! from visiting my family’s friends and seeing a live performance where a Jack-in-the-box clown popped out and made the scary laughter noise. I have a really vivid recollection of that to this day.”

The song that soundtracked my first love...

Bauhaus – Hollow Hills (1981)

“We used to park in this construction site on a hill where they were building these prefab houses in the town that we lived in. We’d go up into the hills where it was elevated and empty and we would listen to the Bauhaus album, Mask. Our youth really does inform who we are, doesn’t it?”

The song that first inspired me to want to be in a band...

AC/DC – Hells Bells (1980)

“I asked for an AC/DC record for my fifth birthday, and that’s when Back In Black came out. I also remember jumping up and down on my mother’s bed to Hells Bells. I’m pretty sure that drove me towards the path I would eventually take.”

The song that picks me up when I've been down...

The Cure – One Hundred Years (1982)

“I always seem to turn to darker music when I’m at my lowest. And this is the perfect soundtrack for those sad times. I return to [The Cure’s 1982 record] Pornography often in my life – it’s one of my favourite albums. The opening line, ‘It doesn’t matter if we all die,’ really puts things into perspective. This was the first album I’d ever heard that had that bleak and beautiful tone, and the impact on me at an impressionable age was so strong that it’s stayed with me. I loved hearing those haunting depths coming through music, and the post-punk element really imbued an edge, a darkness and a romance too. It’s always held a special place in my heart and I’m sure that it always will.”

The AFI song that was hardest to write...

AFI – Miss Murder (2006)

“We beat this song down. We reworked the chorus over and over again, and in some abyss I sang the melody of the chorus with a scratched lyric that went, ‘Hey, Miss Murder, can I?’ The label were like, ‘That’s it!’ And I was like, ‘Really?! Are you serious?’ I wanted to write a proper chorus and they were like, ‘Please keep it like that.’”

The first song that I performed onstage...

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)

“This is the first song I remember performing in front of anybody. It was at my friend Ben’s birthday party in junior high. He had it in his garage and there were drums set up, which someone played, and I vividly recall Ben’s father Jim playing guitar while I sang. It wasn’t on a stage, but in a garage, and that set the standard for most of my performances for the next 15 years.”

The first AFI song I heard on the radio...

AFI – Don't Make Me Ill (1995)

“It’s pretty shocking that this was even played on the radio. I was in my 1983 Honda Accord when it happened. Only one of the speakers worked and I had a toothpick jammed into it to keep it stuck on FM. At the time there wasn’t much on the radio that appealed to us because it was the onset of rap metal, but suddenly through the fuzz this came on, and I turned to my friend and I was like, ‘This doesn’t sound like it sucks – what is it?’ I turned it up and I was really shocked that it was us, because it was so unlikely.”

The song that I wish I had written...

Elliott Smith – Between The Bars (1997)

“This song is simply astounding to me. Elliott was an unparalleled songwriter and his albums have moved me ever since I first discovered him many years ago. This song is so moving. He was unquestionably one of the best songwriters of my generation and, boy, I wish I’d written this song.”

The song I'd like played at my funeral...

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)

“I think this is pretty self-explanatory, don’t you?”

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