It’s not the usual boast: “There are no real instruments on this record,” says Blaqk Audio programmer/keyboardist Jade Puget. “That was a goal of ours from the start.”
Puget, better known as the guitarist for platinum-selling goth-punks AFI, conceived the idea of an electronic/industrial side project over five years ago, but only recently found the time (along with AFI frontman Davey Havok) to finish up BA’s debut album, “CexCells.” It’s a stunning record, sonically running the gamut from trance to old-school industrial. Here, Puget discusses his love of keyboards, his mild “feud” with Trent Reznor and why kids feel the need to wear black when they listen to his music.
You guys have never played live before as Blaqk Audio. Are you nervous about doing this?
Not really. It’s just going to be the two of us, me and Davey. He can move around a bit, but I’m the keyboardist for this tour, and I’m pretty much just stuck in one spot. When I’m playing guitar in AFI, I can move around a lot. But that’s how it is with electronic acts: one guy is stationary, and sometimes both.
How long did it take to put together "CexCells"? And what was the process?
Davey and I have been listening to electronic music since the '80s. I learned to program about 5-6 years ago and started to write songs in that vein. Davey heard some of it [and] said, “Let’s start a project!” But with AFI, we had just released “Sing the Sorrow,” then we did “Decemberunderground,” so it had to wait. Some of the tracks here are really old, but a vast majority of them we wrote recently.
Was it easier just to program the tracks instead of working with a band?
It’s liberating in some ways, but in other ways it’s more painstaking than putting together a rock song, as I’m doing pretty much everything. Luckily, I like to geek out on my laptop. I can edit a track for 18 hours in a row and not realize it.
What were your influences here? I hear a lot of different styles.
We’re pretty eclectic. The thing with electronic music is everybody is a real stickler about genre—you’re IDM or trance, and that’s what you are. But we took a lot of elements from different bands, from Nitzer Ebb and Ministry and Front 242 to more current stuff like VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk, Covenant, Paul Oakenfold and Underworld.
Why do you think electronic music, whether it was industrial or big beat or whatever, never took off here like it did in Europe?
It is strange. There was moment with the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim about 10 years ago, but I guess people decided they didn’t like that. I think a lot of people decided that without really hearing any of it, though. If they gave it a chance, it could come around again.
What’s the origin of the album title “CexCells”?
The lyrical content, it’s about the sexual dynamic between people, but not in a sleazy way, more of an academic way. It’s a double entendre. Or I’m spelling challenged.
On your blog, you tweak Trent Reznor for the viral campaign he used for the new Nine Inch Nails album. Why is that?
Oh, we’re friends with Trent , and it’s no big deal. But we had done this whole online tie-in with our last AFI record, “Decemberunderground,” back in 2005. We did sort of an Internet scavenger hunt with these different web sites and little videos. Then Trent’s new album came out... and there are all these mysterious web sites and clues and it was the really similar. I mean, it was great, but it’s like, hey, we did this six months ago!
How are AFI fans taking to Blaqk Audio?
They’ve been really supportive, and there’s a lot of non-AFI fans and electronic music fans who seem open to it.
Anything new on the AFI front?
I’m always writing. But we just got done touring, and there’s going to be some downtime before we work on a new record. But it’ll happen.
Why do you think all kids into goth and industrial wear black?
It’s kind of being a disaffected person. I guess it sets you apart. I still wear a lot of black. It’s a very surface way of setting you apart—it’s kind of like a uniform, in a way.