Davey Havok is a tease. When a mysterious video clip was released last week with the words “September 2013” at the end, fans speculated that it was about his band AFI releasing a new album. But when the multi-faceted vegan straight-edge frontman sat down with Kevin and Bean this morning, he remained elusive about the meaning of that video saying that he hasn’t “slept in two days” and he has no idea what’s going on.
“Who can say really?” said Havok coyly. “I didn’t even know it was there. I didn’t even know there was a camera on. I thought I was going shopping. What a disappointment. I thought it was one of those cool new boutiques.”
Havok, who has dabbled to put it mildly in fashion design and Broadway acting in Green Day’s American Idiot, may not want to talk about the future of AFI’s music but he had no problem talking about his new book Pop Kids.
Centered around “a pop-culture obsessed, pseudo-vegetarian, atheist, pyromaniac, trapped within a rural northern Californian town” who “longs for escape to a city life of fame and fortune,” Havok said the 320-page novel (which includes a book soundtrack in the back) took him three years to write and went through many edits and incarnations, including its first manifestation as a single-spaced 600-something paged pop culture manifesto composed on TextEdit.
Touring stifled the flow of the creative process (he started writing it around the same time AFI was working on Crash Love), but eventually the hard-working Havok got a year of downtime where he spent hours working on the book every day for a year.
The entire time Havok was working on Pop Kids, he only confided this fact to people in his innermost circle, but when it was finally ready to be published Havok decided to put it out himself with the help of “his partner Danny” and Richard Gastman who co-founded the magazine Swindle with artist Shepard Fairey.
“It was a surreal moment when I first got the physical copy,” admitted Havok to Kevin & Bean. “I’ve been well into the second [book] for a while.”
He’s also been having casual talks with people about turning the book into a movie or television show. Pop Kids would perfectly appeal to the technologically-savvy, instant gratification-centric youth of today.
Many have speculated that Havok’s books is semi-autobiographical, but the artist says that given the content of the novel that is impossible. Havok never lived in the same computer-oriented circumstances as his protagonist Score Massi; when 37-year-old Havok was 16-years-old his life was “markedly different.”
“The shift of culture that occurred upon the inception of the internet and then later the proliferation of social networking and reality television really impacted me,” explained Havok. “The divide is so stark that eventually I was hit with this narrative about this story to kind of illustrate culturally that disparity that you see as a result of that media.”
Havok said it was interesting to write in the first person about a protagonist who is both youthful but was forced into adulthood as a result of having “access to all information.”
“There isn’t a time in your life that you don’t have access to all media,” Havok explained, asserting that teenagers today live with a sense of “entitlement and narcissism” that isn’t their fault but the result of a post-modern culture that has given us celebrity that can be “achieved without actually having to create something or work at something, or worse can be achieved by doing something negative.”
Havok continued, saying “the strength [of media] has grown, but the substance has weakened,” but he was careful to not make Pop Kids a personalized commentary. Havok asserted that if anyone were to read a book about him “it would destroy a lot of fantasies about how interesting” his life is.
Fans would probably debate that, but it seems Havok didn’t start his career to make money or to be “interesting.” He makes art for the love of it.
Havok explained that when AFI first started “there was no chance that what they were doing artistically could result in any sort of monetary compensation.” AFI made a conscious decision in the beginning to be emotionally prepared for living off rice, not having a house, and not having a family. But artistic tastes eventually shifted in their favor and they could finally afford to “eat more than rice.”
“It was such a big deal to us and we were traveling on the road and our per diems went from $5 and $7. Being vegan at the time was hard,” admitted Havok. “I don’t even want to say what I ate.”
The same lack of care about monetary gain goes for Havok’s expectations for book sales. Although he is “wildly thrilled with the response” that he got, he stipulated that “by no means did he write it to make money.”
Just like music, sales in books have decreased exponentially and a lot of people don’t read for fun anymore.
In that case, is there a potential for an audiobook? Havok did offer to read the book to Kevin & Bean. “You don’t have to read it. I can come read it to you.”
Pop Kids is now available in paperback and digital download. Get more info at popkidsbook.com.
—Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles