Like many kids of my age, I spent a lot of my formative years playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I mean a lot. It came to the point where even close to two decades after some of the games come out, I still find myself able to hum the majority of the songs featured on the soundtrack, note for note. Hell, I once even managed to guide myself around New York based upon the game’s description of the city (which, if anything, is a testament to the games designers). Basically, what I’m saying is, I played these games an awful lot.
While playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, I was introduced to a number of brilliant songs, such as Motörhead’s ‘Ace Of Spades‘, Alien Ant Farm’s ‘Wish‘, and Zebrahead’s ‘Check‘, just to name a few. Along the way though, I began to hear AFI’s ‘The Boy Who Destroyed The World’ quite a bit too. From their 1999 All Hallow’s E.P., the track showcased AFI at the end of their truly ‘punk’ years, going into their more mainstream territory.
With the game released in 2001, it was just after AFI’s influential The Art Of Drowning, but just a little bit before their breakthrough record, Sing The Sorrow, so there wasn’t much information about the band available for a young kid from Adelaide.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and I’m still playing the game frequently, but I’ve since entered high school. One of my first days there, I’m catching the bus, when out of the corner of my eye, I spot a girl’s backpack. On the back of it, written in white-out, is the words ‘A Fire Inside’. Now, I had done enough research to know that’s what AFI stood for, but at no point had I gotten any proof that the band were that big, let alone famous in Australia. (Somewhere along the line I seemed to neglect the fact that the band were on a goddamn video game, they were obviously pretty well-known.)
I was in awe, I had to know more about this band that were suddenly more famous than I realised. Did they pop up overnight? What the hell happened here? Soon enough, I found myself listening to more and more of their music, trying to catch up with their work. This was prime time for me to be listening to the group, because not long after, they received global fame with their record Decemberunderground, and the singles ‘Miss Murder‘, and ‘Love Like Winter‘.
I look back at this period of time with a sense of confusion, because somehow, my own ideas of popularity within music managed to help me not only miss out on a band that I enjoyed, but also miss out on their rise to fame as well.