Saturday, March 13, 2010

AFI News HQ interview with Geoff Kresge: Part 1

Here’s part 1 of my interview with Geoff Kresge. First of all, a public Thank you to Geoff for being so nice, so down to earth and so kind to accept this interview for our site. I was really blown away with this interview. It was way way better than I could ever imagine. Geoff will be reading this entry so say thanks if you enjoyed it! :)

On part 2 and 3, Geoff talks about AFI’s current setlists, his favorite post-Geoff albums, live AFI shows from his era, favorite AFI songs, and more!

Here we go!:

On the second week of March 2010, Pablo had the opportunity to interview former AFI bassist and songwriter Geoff Kresge.

Geoff Kresge was a member of AFI from 1992 until April 1997, appearing on releases such as Dork, Eddie Picnic’s All Wet, Fly in the Ointment, and on AFI albums Answer That and Stay Fashionable and Very Proud of Ya.

After receiving a great response from our readers with questions for Geoff, these are the ones he kindly answered:

Pablo: Nowadays, Davey and Jade are the primary songwriters for AFI. Back in the day, you used to write music and lyrics for many AFI songs. What was the writing process like back then? Was Davey open to singing lyrics he did not write? How were Davey and Mark as co-songwriters?

Geoff Kresge: Before I joined the band they had a lot of songs that I assume they had all written together – probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 songs that they had recorded on their first couple of demo tapes. As I was about to join the band, they had decided to stop playing nearly all of the older songs and they needed new material as soon as possible so we could start playing shows. I started bringing in my own songs right away – probably within the first couple of times we practiced together. The first music I brought in became “Who Said You Could Touch Me?” and “Rizzo in the Box”. The first complete song I brought in, with music and lyrics, was “Your Name Here”.

As far as writing with the guys, Davey was always very quick to come up with lyrics and ideas, but also always willing to try new things out musically, as was Adam. Davey never voiced any negative opinions towards singing my lyrics. I never really wrote with Mark, except when he needed an extra part here or there, or arrangement stuff. Mark and I only have one shared songwriting credit that I can recall, and that was for me adding a bridge section to one of his songs, which ended up on Answer That and Stay Fashionable. There were other times that the four of us worked on arrangements together – usually minor changes, like whether we should cut parts out or move them around within the body of the song, that none if us felt warranted additional writing credits on the albums.

P: On the Nitro Boxset, regarding your comments about Answer That, you say, and I quote: “Around this time there was some talk of changing the group’s lineup due to some discontent within the ranks”. What was wrong with the band at that moment?

GK: Without digging up too much dirt, let’s just say that there were some personality conflicts within the band before the recording of ATASF. I honestly don’t know what the issues were, but Mark had a personal problem with me at that time. I don’t think he ever realized how close we came to asking him to leave the band – which was very close. After some serious consideration, we decided to ask Jade Puget join the band at that time. I met with him and asked if he would be willing to join the band if we did decide to replace Mark. He said he would join if it came to that. He and I had previously been in a different band with Adam (and no singer), so we were fairly close to that lineup already at one point. Who knows what would have happened if we had actually gotten Jade in the band at that point? Maybe the first album would have been closer to what Black Sails in the Sunset ended up as.

P: You and Davey seem to regret recording “Man in a Suitcase”. What’s the story behind this cover, and what’s wrong with it?

GK: Regret is probably too strong a word in this case, although it is certainly appropriate when describing some later events.

For me, and probably for Davey too, it just didn’t fit in with what we were trying to do, musically, at that point in time. Also at that time, there was a whole trend happening within the punk scene where bands were doing ska-influenced songs, which to me was kind of a bad idea. Adam really wanted to do the song, and since he wasn’t able to write his own songs to bring into the band, we all eventually agreed to do it. It’s still one of my least favorite songs from that era. (Sorry Adam.)

P: If I’m not wrong, although there are 24 songs from the VPOY sessions, 10 of them are re-recordings. Out of the other 14 “new” songs, only 7 of them were consistentely played live. How’s that the other 7 new songs like Modern Epic, Shatty Fatmas, Take The Test, Cult Status and Soap Box Derby were not played often, or at all, and you kept playing old songs like Advances in Modern Technology and Aspirin Free?

GK: You’re right, there are 24 songs from those sessions that actually got released, between the cassette/CD and vinyl versions, but there are actually 13 re-recordings! There are some earlier versions from other sessions and other releases. The completely “new” songs for the VPOY sessions were “No Dave Party”, “He Who Laughs Last…” , “Wake-Up Call” , “Cult Status” , “Perfect Fit”, “This Secret Ninja”, “Soap-Box Derby” , “Consult My Lover”, “Take the Test” , “Shatty Fatmas” and “Modern Epic”. To the best of my recollection, the reason behind playing songs such as “Advances in Modern Technology” and “Aspirin Free” is that we had already been playing those songs for a while before VPOY was released. Those two had previously released on the split 7″ we did with Heckle. I don’t think we actually ever learned how to play most of the “new” songs after they were released, although we did do a few of them, as you mentioned.

Some of the re-recordings were done for the VPOY album because the earlier versions were only available as “limited edition” pressings, so we kind of assumed that there weren’t many people that knew those songs.

P: You talk about some “somewhat lifeless songs” that were on Very Proud of Ya that didn’t make it for Answer That and Stay Fashionable. In what way are they lifeless and what songs are these?

GK: I think what you’re referring to is something I may have said about why certain songs weren’t included on the Answer That and Stay Fashionable album. It’s not that the songs themselves were “lifeless”, just that the versions we did for ATASF didn’t seem to have the right “feel” at the time. I’m sure that if I listened to those versions now, I’d say that they are far superior to the versions that ended up on Very Proud of Ya. The songs in question are “Who Said You Could Touch Me” and “Rolling Balls”, which ended up as vinyl bonus tracks on VPOY.

The other way that I’m interpreting the question is in reference to the VPOY album and the overall production and sound of that album, which I may also have described as “lifeless” at some point. That is definitely something that I have spoken out about ever since that album was released, and the reason for that is that what you hear when you listen to that album is not what you’re supposed to hear. There are a lot of things that had to be left off of the final master, from guitar solos to additional songs that should have been included in place of some of the older material that made it onto the album. The recording of that album was a very difficult process for all four of us and I don’t think any of us were happy with the way the record turned out in the end, but there wasn’t anything we could do about it at the time because of budget and scheduling issues.

If we would’ve done the recording with Andy Ernst, who we did nearly every other session with between 1994 and 1997, it would’ve been a far better record in my opinion. There are alternate versions from other sessions that represent those songs (plus the songs we didn’t get to put on the album) much better than the official release. If I had the opportunity to remix that album or compile an “alternate version” of that album, I’d feel a lot better about it – even though so much time has elapsed since the original release. That’s how strongly I feel about it.

P: There are two “unknown” words on two VPOY songs you wrote music for. One of them is on “Shatty Fatmas”, and the word is cajz (“You try to cajz everyday, I wish that you would get away”). Another one is in “Consult My Lover” and it’s “SP” (You’ve got some S.P. Something to show to me. Well, I have seen it before”. What do these words mean?

GK: I actually gave the meanings behind those words in an interview a few years ago. Those words were (and still are) slang words that we and a small group of friends use. The useage is hard to describe in written text. I think it’s better to leave these up to the imagination of the listener after all.

P: Are there any unreleased AFI song from your era? Is there any chance of a release?

GK: With every studio session we ever did, we recorded extra songs. Sometime alternate versions, sometimes songs just didn’t make the final cut for one reason or another or were recorded for later use. There are entire sessions that never got released, which I still have in my archives. Some of them we planned to release as EPs on my label, Key Lime Pie Records. We just never got around to releasing some of that material, even though much of it is just as good as the material that did get released. From what I can recall, there were at least two EPs that were ready to be sent to the record pressing plant (and a Dork reissue) that just ended up not happening.

There were also 14 to 16 songs of mine that we were working on after VPOY that were meant to be on the third album. There are some recordings of those songs, but after I left the band they decided to start over and have Mark write all of the music himself for the next album. So there are approximately 20 original songs and a few covers that were never released in any format, maybe more.

As far as any of that stuff ever getting released, I don’t really know. I think it would be really cool to get those recordings out there. A lot of the sessions would have to be properly mixed, since some of the recordings were really just for our own reference and were never mixed properly. We’d literally be talking about a “lost album” scenario, since the majority of the material that’s unreleased was my version of what the album after VPOY would have been.

No comments:

Post a Comment