AFI Singer Davey Havok On Twitter And A Generation Raised On Social Media (Interview)
In the 20-plus years that Davey Havok has been performing, it seems that he has seen and done it all. Most people know him as the lead singer of AFI, a genre-defining punk rock band that broke into the mainstream in 2003. Havok has also acted on Broadway in the musical American Idiot, appeared in several feature films and fronted the electronic group Blaqk Audio. Now, Havok has added author to his long resumé. In the recently released Pop Kids, Havok composes a narrative about a generation raised on social media; people he believes "shine an arc light on modern nihilism."
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iTech Post: After being involved with music, theater, cinema etc., was writing a book the natural progression of your art or was it something that you have been toiling at for a while?
Davey Havok: Writing is something that has appealed to me since I was young. Even in high school I had hopes of writing a novel. It wasn't until the general concept for Pop Kids hit me that I decided to give it a try.
iTP: In Pop Kids you write about a generation weaned on social media. Are these kids at an advantage or a disadvantage because they have always had as much music, information etc. at their hands whenever they want it? Is there a lack of authenticity in the modern consumer because everything is so easy to find?
DH: I do believe that the unlimited amount of information has had both a positive and negative impact on culture. However, the negative impact has struck me most. It seems that generations raised on modern media have access to all and understanding of little.
iTP: You have used Twitter to both actively promote the book and give some of your personal thoughts. What were your initial thoughts on the medium and how do you feel it has benefited you personally and professionally?
DH: I feel that Twitter can be a beneficial tool to spread art and information. Yet, much like the rest of the forms of social networking, the medium seems to be more widely used as a vehicle for acquiring empty fame or vacuous attention — whether it be on micro or macro level.
iTP: There are both gratifying and horror stories about some things artists are sent on Twitter. At this point does pointed criticism or praise have an effect on you?
DH: I use Twitter almost exclusively as a means to send information. I don't pay much attention to what comes in. However, since releasing the book I've paid closer attention to find an overwhelming amount of extremely positive responses to Pop Kids. It's very nice to know that the people who've taken the time to buy and read my novel have enjoyed it.
iTP: Having been in the public eye for years, how have you seen the youth of America change/progress?
DH: The cultural divide caused by the advent of the Internet, social media, reality TV and YouTube has caused the most striking change to me. Generations raised with access to all media, and a new a cult of celebrity instilled by this media, hold vastly different values and ambitions to those who did not have the same access since birth.
iTP: Do you feel that an artist needs to be on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr etc. to expand their brand?
DH: Today, if you want your art to be found, there is no other way. Even most professional marketing teams will start all campaigns online. That's not to say an artist must use these mediums but it's virtually impossible to spread information without them. To eschew them entirely is to embrace obscurity.
iTP: What do you hope people think about after reading your book?
DH: I'd hoped different people would react to my book in different ways: some by relating to the characters, others by being haunted by the sentiment.
iTP: Has the same social commentary evident in Pop Kids also seen its way into your writing? Will a new AFI or Blaqk Audio record have similar themes?
DH: It has. I didn't realize it until both were finished but the AFI album Crash Love shares many themes with Pop Kids.