"I apologize for the condition of my voice," Hunter says, following my formal introduction. "We have been playing a lot of shows in the south. Right now we are in Austin and the air is doing a number on us."
Touring is definitely nothing new for AFI (A Fire Inside). They have developed a staggering fan base since their debut in 1992, touring on grueling schedules all over the world.
"We are definitely a touring band," Hunter tells me with a certain amount of pride. "We always try to tour as long as we can before we go back into the studio."
AFI is currently touring to promote their latest album, Sing The Sorrow, which is also their major label debut. Dreamworks signed the band after they had outgrown Nitro records (Offspring's Dexter Holland's label), which had previously released most of their albums. The new label gave them the opportunity to hire some high profile producers, Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins) and Jerry Finn (Green Day, Rancid). Their single "Girl's Not Grey" showcases the hard work done to maintain the group's gothic punk sound, while still giving old fans something new.
"We had all of our material written when we went into the studio, so they weren't involved in the writing process at all," Hunter explains. "It was just like having two more members in the band to critique the final product. The label didn't put us under any real pressure and they were very respectful towards our overall vision."
Most fans of small-label bands fear the jump to a major label because of external influences on the band's image and sound. Though there is a noticeable change between their last album and their latest release, most fans would agree it fits their progression over the years and doesn't reek of corporate marketing. The proof is in the concert sales.
"So many shows sold out so quickly on this tour," he says with surprise. "Mostly because of our old fans that are continuing to support us and our new material."
Some of the Canadian shows on the tour had to change venues to accommodate the high demand.
"It's great to be backstage hearing the crowd louder than ever and then to come out and have them sing along with both old and new songs is definitely an amazing feeling," he tells me with excitement in his raspy voice.
AFI is playing to a sold-out crowd in MacEwan Hall Thu., Oct. 16. Based on past performances, it should be another memorable show.
So, if you have your tickets make sure you hold on to them. If you don't, be prepared to sell your soul to get some.