It was “A Winter’s Tale” that got me, fifteen going on sixteen in a tiny, culturally impoverished town in southeast Idaho.
Back then, the best way to discover new music was to pick up a couple cheap compilation discs at the local record store. The Warped Tour: 2001 Compilation had just come out and my brother and I were giving it a spin as we cruised the desolate nighttime streets. Track 6 hit. I was instantly and—it seems in retrospect—eternally enamored.
Finding out more was a matter of some work. It took a trip to Salt Lake City—about a three hour drive south—to find copies of Black Sails in the Sunset and the Art of Drowning. These albums spun ceaselessly in my portable CD player on the drive home—and for months afterward.
Not long thereafter, I discovered my new aural paramours were signing to Dreamworks and would soon set about writing and recording their sixth LP. I devoured every scrap of information I could find, gobbling up studio updates like manna from heaven. “Now the World” and “Reiver’s Music” offered tantalizing hints at what was to come.
Then, in March 2003, Sing the Sorrow dropped. It presented a suite of music vastly different from what I’d fallen in love with on Black Sails and Art of Drowning. For a strange, aimless kid on the cusp of 18 in a small town, this was perfect music—a case study in the transformative power of rock ‘n’ roll.
To say AFI has occupied a special place in my life is to partially understate and trivialize the case. These guys gave me anchorage when I was otherwise adrift. Their music has enriched, enlightened, and, quite frankly, changed my life.