Monday, July 19, 2010

Geoff Kresge comments on each Answer That song!

Guys, here is the last installment of Geoff Kresge talking about every song on Answer That and Stay Fashionable. All the previous posts are reposted here in case you missed them.

Once again a big thank you to Geoff Kresge, former AFI bassist, for taking the time to do this for us <3

We hope you enjoyed reading this! :)

All content herein ©2010 Key Lime Pie Records. Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, is forbidden without the express written consent of Key Lime Pie Records.

Wingnut Records Version

"Two of a Kind"

The title was a reference to a guy we knew at the time who had recently started dating a girl who had started adopting his style of dress and mannerisms. She was basically the female version of him. It was just an observation of the situation, put into words as the title of the song. I don't know how much of Davey's lyrics reflect the concept behind the title, although there are certainly lines that could be interpreted in such a way.

"Half-Empty Bottle"

This was a song that I had written between the time that we had split up in late-August 1993 and our reformation in December 1993. It was originally going to be performed by the band I was playing with in the interim. That band recorded it, under the original title "Burn It Down", several years later along with several other songs I co-wrote - without giving me any kind of songwriting credit. The lyrics are just generic punk lyrics. The title "Half-Empty Bottle" was an obscure homage to a lyric on the first album by The Replacements that includes the phrase "half-full bottle".

"Yürf Rendenmein"

The title for this one came from a nickname that Davey and I had for a guy that we used to see at shows in the East Bay. He was a very strange looking guy. ANyway, he seemed to be at every show that Davey and I went to around that time and there was no escaping him. Even though we didn't know him and neither of us ever had a conversation with him, we began referring to him as "your friend and mine", which led us to dub him Yürf Rendenmein. Lyrically, the song is about something else altogether, which was standard practice for us then. Only in a few cases did the song title appear within the lyrics of the song. I don't know if the lyrics were directly influenced by any one person or if it was just a general thing.

"I Wanna Get a Mohawk (But Mom Won't Let Me Get One)"

This is one of the few examples where the song title is found within the lyrics to the song. The song is about Davey's younger brother, who was quite young when the song was written, as evidenced by the line "I may be in fourth grade, but I know what's going on". It was a semi-biographical song.

"Brownie Bottom Sundae"

The title for this one was Adam's idea. We were at a Denny's Restaurant late one night and on the table, there was one of those little cardboard signs advertising one of the restaurant's new desserts. This one was advertising their Brownie Bottom Sundae. Davey's lyrics for this song could be seen as the prototype for the kind of lyrics he would go on to write in later years, with various references to feelings of helplessness and despair. This was one of the first times that Davey's lyrics deviated from the earlier phase of AFI's songs, which were usually meant to be humorous or witty.

"The Checkered Demon"

This is possibly the only co-writing credit that Mark and I shared on an AFI record. The majority of the music was written by Mark, and I added a section or two to it when he was having a hard time finishing the music. Again, as with the lyrics to "Brownie Bottom Sundae", Davey's lyrical content foreshadows the lyrics he would later contribute to subsequent albums. The title was inspired by an underground comic character of the same name, by S. Clay Wilson. The progression or evolution of the title came from the tempo of the song (originally it was much faster than the album version) being so fast that someone should wave a checkered flag at the end of the song (referring to the checkered flag used in auto racing, which signifies the end of a race). So from "checkered flag" we arrived at the title "The Checkered Demon".

"Cereal Wars"

This title is self-explanatory, as it appears in the lyrics. "Cereal Wars" was, at that time, one of the oldest songs in the band's catalog.

"The Mother in Me"

Lyrically, this is an anti-love song. The inspiration behind the title escapes me at the moment, but it could have been as simple as hearing the phrase while writing the lyrics.

"Rizzo in the Box"

In this case, the title has absolutely no relation to the lyrics. This song was one of the first couple of songs I brought into the band when I joined, but only the music. Davey wrote his share of the lyrics around Adam's ideas and the lyrics that he had prepared for the song. We should have credited Davey's grandfather, who was an awesome person and one of our biggest supporters, for inspiring the title somehow. He had found a little tape recorder, like a toy version of a cassette recorder, and we decided to see if it worked by recording one of our rehearsals on it. Davey put batteries in it, along with a blank cassette, and started speaking into the built-in microphone. He decided to speak as a character named Rizzo, saying "My name is Rizzo. This is Rizzo in the box." That's the source of the introduction heard on the original Behind the Times EP version of the song.

"Kung-Fu Devil"

This started out with entirely different lyrics. We decided to change the lyrics when we were recording the album. The title was just something that we thought sounded cool, even though it had nothing to do with the lyrics.

"Your Name Here"

The title comes from the space on various types of documents or forms that you would fill out for whatever reason, where it has a blank space for your name. Usually they say "(YOUR NAME HERE)" underneath the line or the box. In this case, it's directly referencing the lyrical content, since the song is about a specific person, or fictitious person, or any person in general. Everyone has known someone at one point or another that they can apply the lyrics to, so by naming the song "Your Name Here", it can apply to anyone, while granting anonymity to the person that it's truly written about or dedicated to.


This one is fairly self-explanatory, as most people would know that the product NyQuil is a medicine that you take when you have a cold or the flu, to make you sleep while it helps your body fight off whatever your ailment may be. This song, like "Cereal Wars", is one of the earlier tracks that predates my joining the band.

"Don't Make Me Ill"

The story behind "Don't Make Me Ill" is kind of a long one. It actually goes hand-in-hand with the title of the Fly in the Ointment EP, although it wasn't intended to appear on that release. The short version of the story is that there was a label that wanted to sign the band to a recording contract, but they wanted us to radically change our sound to be more "radio friendly", among other things. The lyrics are directly related to that situation. The irony here is that "Don't Make Me Ill" actually ended up getting quite a bit of radio airplay after ATASF was released!

"Highschool Football Hero"

This song was written before we had fully adopted the unwritten rule of disguising the song titles, so it's another case of the song title being lifted directly from the lyrics. The overall theme was inspired by a Fleischer Popeye cartoon from the 1930s, called "You Gotta Be a Football Hero".

"Man In A Suitcase" (The Police Cover) - CD Hidden Track

Obviously we didn't write this song, but Adam really liked it and rallied for its inclusion on the album. We reluctantly agreed. In hindsight, it's fine, but at the time we recorded it, I don't recall any of us being particularly happy with the way it sounded. It really wasn't within our collective ability to do the original version justice.

"Self-Pity" - Vinyl Bonus Track

Another oldie-but-goodie from the earliest days of the band. We had continued playing this song from the time I joined up until the time I left the band, if I recall correctly. I'm not exactly sure, but I believe it was recorded on the band's first two demos, then again for the Dork EP, and yet again for the Behind The Times EP sessions, and finally for the ATASF album. A very self-explanatory title.

"Key Lime Pie" - Vinyl Bonus Track

Another artifact from the beginning stages of the band. This song hadn't really been performed for a few years, as it was scrapped when I joined the band, but I had always loved the song and wanted to include it on the album in some form. I don't remember how the original riff for the verse was played, but when I convinced the guys to start performing the song again, it was with a new riff in the verse that I contributed and that's the version that ended up being released. A love song dedicated to the gloriously delicious dessert of the same name.

Nitro Records Version

"Open Your Eyes" - Nitro Version Bonus Track

This was a cover of a song originally recorded by The Circus Tents, that appeared on their Hard Up EP. It was released on a label called Insurrection Records. Inside the original record, there was an insert that detailed the costs of making the record and where the recording, mastering, pressing, sleeve printing, etc. were done. When the record was first released, I saw how easy it was to do a record like that. It inspired me, musically and from the perspective that I could do this myself. I took the information from that insert, contacted some of the listings on it and used some of my own limited contacts and did the Dork record. I sent a copy of the finished product to the guy that released that Circus Tents EP, along with a thank you letter that was something to the effect of, "Thanks for releasing such a cool record and for including all of the great information. This is a copy of what I did with that information. I hope you like it." I never heard back from Paul, the guy that did the CT EP, but several years later he sold that record, along with the letter, on eBay, and made about $3000 on it! Hahaha! That's a lot more than that Dork record cost to record and manufacture!
Anyway, I fell in love with that CT record and played it for the other guys in the band. I wrote to the CT address inside the record and received a reply from the singer, Matt Wedgley. We started a correspondence that went on for a while, and I got a letter from him that said The Circus Tents broke up. I was bummed. I told the other guys in my band about it and they were bummed too. We soon started playing "Open Your Eyes" at rehearsals and then started playing it live. When we booked our first show at 924 Gilman Street, I sent Matt a letter to let him know we were playing, and that we'd be playing "Open Your Eyes". He came to the show. During a break in our set, someone called out "Open Your Eyes!" and I looked down to see where the voice was coming from, asking "Are you him?" Hahaha! We had never met in person, but it was Matt. We played the song and had Matt sing it with us. We didn't actually meet until after the show. He was really cool and he liked our band.
A while later, I got a letter from Matt saying that he wanted to do a 7" with us. I told the other guys about it and although it took a little convincing on my part, they agreed to do it. I thought it would be a fun thing to include our version of "Open Your Eyes" on the record, and to have Davey and Matt trading vocal lines on it. It was a nightmare getting Matt to the studio. He had missed his train (which turned out to be a trend as time went on and Matt worked for us as our roadie/merch guy), and Mark drove out to pick him up while we were in the middle of cutting some of the tracks during the recording session. When Matt got to the studio, he was still reluctant to lay down his vocal track, because he hadn't really sung in quite a while. We convinced him that it would be cool, and he did it in one take with no overdubs! We mixed the record, which became Fly in the Ointment, and had the vocals on that song trading off, but it was a little weird the way it ended up. Instead of trading every other line, they were doing alternating lines in a little different way. It was cool though.
When we were getting ready to do the reissue of ATASF on Nitro Records, I told the label that I wanted to remix the album. They agreed and I took the session master tapes back to The Art of Ears studios and remixed the entire album with Andy Ernst. I can't remember at which point we decided to include our version of "Open Your Eyes" on the reissue, but I remember remixing it the way I had originally heard it in my head, with the vocals trading off the way they do on that reissue. I guess we just wanted to give fans a little something extra on the reissue besides a different mix. The differences between the Wingnut version and the Nitro version are not extreme in any sense, but there are subtle differences in the two records, including some extra harmonies and backing vocals that I added during the remix sessions. I guess it takes a certain degree of scrutiny on the part of the listener to pick out the differences.


  1. I can't get enough of this! Thank you Geoff and thank you Pablo for this :)

  2. That was an awesome read.Thanks so much

  3. Highly, highly appreciated. Thank you!

  4. Amazing. thats all that needs to be said.
    Thank you so much Pablo and Geoff.

  5. Thanks guys! Geoff is the best. He should write an autobiography.