Davey Havok has expressed himself through many avenues, from hardcore to the darkly melodic platinum and gold heights of AFI’s albums Sing The Sorrow and Decemberunderground to the electro-tinged harmonies of Blaqk Audio, who issued their second album last year. He’s topped the charts and starred on Broadway. And now he’s taking aim at the Barnes & Noble: Spring 2013 saw Havok in a swanky Hollywood hotel reading aloud from his debut novel, Pop Kids, about a fame seeking 17-year-old named Score. Havok spoke to altpress.com about the book, celebrity culture, Zac Efron, David Lynch, Spider-Man and the possibility of new AFI music arriving before 2014.
What was it like getting up and reading in front of people?
DAVEY HAVOK: It was an entirely different experience to read in front of people. I was so much more exposed than I ever have been onstage—whether I had been performing rock or electro-pop before, on Broadway, in any circumstance. It was really a fragile experience. But it was so gratifying. So cool. First of all, it was really touching to see how many people came out to the signing and how many of those people were not only fans, but dear friends. It was wild to get that sort of support from everyone. I was told when I read from Pop Kids that multiple people in the audience had opened up the book and were reading along, which is something I never even considered as a possibility. I didn't see it because I was reading and emoting. That experience—the talk and the reading—was very unique. The whole event was so touching, so gratifying and really unlike anything. It was nice.
People talk about the exchange of energy between audience and performer. What sort of energy was coming back from people who were reading along?
It was so calm and silent during the moments I was reading the short story I had written for the evening and reading from Pop Kids. There was almost a tangible sense of—it sounds extreme to say thrall—but a sense of focus on what I was saying. Which, really kind of pressurized the circumstance, which worked well for the content I was reading. The location we did it in was so perfect and beautiful. The Standard let us have it outside by the pool. It was a beautiful night. The poolside was filled, there were lanterns everywhere, and there were pink balloons floating in the pool they had put there in honor of the book release.
When I was speaking, I didn't notice something that's very modern: I didn't notice any flashes, any cameras up; I didn't notice any recording. Certainly I feel it was unlikely that it wasn't happening, but it wasn't as intrusive as it is in a live music environment. Usually, at least in playing live music, it's something you cannot help but notice because it's literally in your face.
You mentioned a new short story. Have you become more prolific?
Certainly at the time I was writing Pop Kids, I was reaching points where the end was near and I was fearing not having that outlet because I was enjoying writing the book so much and enjoying the characters: I was very inspired as it continued. This started to happen somewhere in the middle of a draft that I thought was going to be the last draft and was probably five out of 50. At that point, I didn't know what I was going to write about. I had a few ideas, and it wasn't until months and months later when I still wasn't done but I was getting closer to completing it that I was realized what the next novel was going to be. Almost the entire storyline hit me at once.
Once I finished Pop Kids and was working on getting it published I immediately began writing the second novel. But as life turned and shifted and collapsed, I wasn't able to continue with that until recently. As a matter of fact, I had written just a little over 100 pages of the beginning of the second story. In the past few weeks, I have gone back to it. I haven't had time to focus on it every day, but I really make an effort not to let two days go by with out getting into it, editing it and trying to move forward. One of the things I learned in writing Pop Kids is it's virtually impossible to write an even semi-cohesive narrative unless you're immersed in it.
You’ve said you aren’t into writing non-fiction or anything autobiographical. Yet the main character in Pop Kids is trapped in a rural California town, he’s into vegetarianism, no interest in religion. There’s no Davey Havok in there?
I think most fiction writers will admit to writing what they know or what they're familiar with or from some sort of personal perspective. I certainly wouldn't deny that there are some ties [between myself and the main character] when looking at the protagonist as you are, what Score professes to be about or the facade he creates for himself. There are some parallels between his personality and my persona, if you will. We do not have a lot in common but environments and experiences. A lot of what comes from the book, whether it be the character himself or the actions, are of course from my own experiences—personal or with my friends or environments I’ve been in or experienced by proximity. As with everything I do, there is an honesty to Pop Kids; it's just a matter of whether or not people can sift through what is fiction, what is narrative and what is character to the root of my personal sentiment. I do hope different people take different things from the book depending on who they are or what culture they come from.