It was late one night in 2006 while watching Rage that the video for AFI’s Love Like Winter came on. I couldn’t pinpoint was intriguing about the song itself at first – the sound of footsteps that meld with guitars at the start of the song or the wintry abyss of the landscape dotted with snowflakes – but it was the lead singer with flamboyant false eyelashes and striking features that caught my attention.
So I bought the album Decemberunderground (AFI’s 7th studio album, I had a lot of catching up to do). I spent hours poring through the lyrics of the record, mesmerised by the use of language and the poetic movement of the words. I wanted to see them live when they toured the album soon after. But I never got the chance.
Fast forward to September 2009, I had just started writing for Rolling Stone, and I asked my editor if I could review Soundwave festival for the magazine. The festival was taking place in February 2010, and AFI, Placebo, Faith No More, Anthrax and Jane’s Addiction were on the bill.
It was one of my first real assignments for the magazine and I was so nervous. I felt like William, the protagonist from the film Almost Famous. I think Will could have held it together a lot better than I did on that day. I saw Dave Navarro walking past me and I nearly fainted. I saw Brian Molko with his shirt off (not that good) and witnessed Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal playing indoor cricket backstage with the Rolling Stone photographer. When I walked in to the media tent and saw AFI sitting down their backs facing me, I instantly recognised Davey’s tattoos as his arm was resting along the back of the sofa they were sitting on, I nearly choked. (Please don’t ask me what happened when Jade – AFI’s guitarist – came up to speak to me, I stood there grinning like I’d just swallowed about five ecstasy tablets.)
I befriended Placebo roadies and they gave me guitar picks and a Sharpie with “PLACEBO” written on it after they caught me taking happy snaps of Placebo’s gear. They let me pat the touring guitarist’s black Fender.
Here are Placebo’s guitars…
When Placebo took to the stage, Davey Havok came to watch them. We were side of stage, and I actually didn’t notice him, because at the time, I was completely besotted with Brian Molko (and would have probably had those horse blinders on). Later, I discovered (thank you YouTube!) Davey had been watching me dancing and singing along to Placebo – I had my notebook in hand – for a good minute or so before he came up to speak to me during the Placebo song Soulmates. He lent over and he surprised me as he spoke: “You’re from the media, and you know all the words to Placebo? I’m impressed.” I turned to face him, and yes, I did my stupid cheesy grin. I said, “Yes, I’m a huge Placebo fan. I even bought Battle of the Sun on vinyl!” I pointed to it in my bag and started to turn fangirl. (Oh, and when my bag fell over and all my stuff tipped out all over the stage, Davey actually bent down and picked it all up and put it back in my bag for me. I just stood there, saying “Thank you, oh god, thank you!” profusely. I will never wash that bag ever again. Ha!)
One thing you notice about Davey is that – apart from the colourful ink of his tattoos and the two black love hearts near his ear lobes, one perfect, the other a broken heart – is his beautiful, expansive energy. It’s this that impressed me most about him. I think he is just a very kind soul. And didn’t mind me tagging along as he moved undercover near the audio mixing desks because he was getting sunburnt. (Later on, I did get the chance to see part of AFI’s set live, I actually fell up the stairs – yes, it’s possible to fall UP stairs– while running to the main stage to see their song, Too Shy To Scream.)
So after I “carried a watermelon” (it’s a Dirty Dancing reference, look it up), and I completely turned fangirl in front of Davey.
But good news, not all is lost! After years of resisting Twitter, Davey joined a few weeks before Christmas last year. So I tweeted him last week saying, “If you haven’t been seduced by @XDaveyXHavokX’s tweets yet, follow him. His tweets read like poetry or song lyrics. I’m in awe!” Of course, I didn’t expect anything in return.
And he responded. And I fell off my chair. And cried while in the foetal position. (Who says I’m melodramatic?) Here it is:
Three days later, he asked someone to remind him about Foreshadow February (no idea what it is, but it sounds cool) and I tweeted him: “I will remind you on February 1.” And he responded again:
I was elated about two responses in three days!
So Davey, if you ever read this, thank you for your words, your music, your energy.
This is fangirl signing out, grinning, and possibly going to listen to AFI. And apologising for any stalker-like behaviour displayed in this blog post. Whoops.