How Fuse and ‘Girl’s Not Grey’ Sparked A Fire Inside Me


Remember Fuse Network? Before the channel was nothing but reruns of Sister, Sister and The Parkers, it was a haven for alternative kids. Dedicated to playing the newest and best in rock music, it was rose above other so-called music networks. It was true 24/7 music programming during a time when MTV and VH1 switched to reality TV. And back in the mid-2000s, I was obsessed with it. I’d watch Fuse every day just to see what bands they played. Programs like Comp’d and Steven’s Untitled Rock Show introduced me to My Chemical Romance, Dir En Grey, The Academy Is…, and Every Time I Die. But only one Fuse memory sticks out vividly in my head: watching AFI’s “Girl’s Not Grey” for the first time.

I had no idea who or what AFI was. My friends didn’t listen to them. I didn’t hear them on the radio. But when I saw that video, it grabbed me. It was strange, yet mesmerizing. The band performing under a red sky surrounded by cherry blossoms, the uncanny girl guided by a strange bunny creature, Davey Havok screaming while covered in black tar. It was like walking through a surreal dream. Unlike anything I’d seen before. And the song was catchy too. From that moment on AFI was my band.

I couldn’t get the video out of my head. I waited hours for it to download so I could watch it every day until I knew every scene by heart. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to know everything about AFI. I spent hours online learning about them, listening to their music, memorizing their lyrics, playing Sing the Sorrow daily, and even downloading their catalog from Limewire. (Hey, I was a broke high school student). Soon, printed pictures of Davey filled my locker. My notebooks were covered with poorly drawn versions of their logo. I told anyone who would listen about this amazing new band. I was obsessed.

That one video started a lifelong relationship with AFI. As I was thrown out of my teens and stumbled into adulthood, they were always there. Decemberunderground soundtracked my senior year of high school. Crash Love was a comfort during college exams. Burials helped me through heartache and loss. The Blood Album played on repeat as I struggled with being an adult. And there’s little doubt that Bodies will be the soundtrack to my summer.

As I grew and changed over the years, AFI changed as well. They never played by the rules. They may have been a group of punks, but they weren’t afraid of change. They could be Gothic and melancholy on one album and intense and heavy on the next. They did things punk rockers weren’t supposed to do. Even 30 years into their career they remain fearless and ambitious. AFI could play it safe, stick to their winning formula. They could release another Sing the Sorrow knowing a good chunk of the fanbase would be happy. Instead, they challenge both themselves and listeners with new sounds, ideas, and stories. Their sound is not dictated by record sales and streaming numbers. They listen to themselves and do what they want. Even if it doesn’t turn out as expected, they at least took a shot. And it’s this drive I admire so much.

After being a fan for nearly 20 years, I finally saw AFI live for the first time in 2017. Three songs in and sweat was already dripping down my back. My feet ached. My heart was pounding. But I couldn’t stop smiling. AFI was on stage. There were no television screens between us. They were performing right before my eyes. As if the moment couldn’t get any better, the opening chords to “Girl’s Not Grey” rang out of Jade’s guitar.

Everything stopped. Here was the song that mesmerized me, that turned me into a fan, live. Hearing the roars of the crowd, it’s clear the song impacted them too. Some have been fans since the beginning, others were new. And some discovered AFI when I did. But the one thing that connected us was that song. As I screamed along with Davey, I was transported back to my bedroom, watching Fuse, and seeing “Girl’s Not Grey” for the first time not knowing I was about to discover a band I would cherish for a lifetime.