“Behind the Fans” is a new series on Backstage Pass where we chat with the organizers of all your favorite fan-run sites and clubs. This week we chatted with Mary, Dan, and Josh of AFI Headquarters (formerly AFI News HQ) about 11 years of running AFI HQ, their favorite tours and memories, and what the future may hold.
Tell us a bit about AFI HQ for those who aren’t familiar with you?
AFI News HQ formed in 2009 as a website to compile news about the band AFI. We would post daily to the site, with content ranging from nightly setlists to upcoming news and other AFI-related information. In 2017, we migrated to AFI’s website and as of 2019 are now simply known as AFI Headquarters, focusing primarily on engagement with the fan community.
Introduce yourselves: Who does what? What do you do when not running AFI HQ?
The HQ is run by three people. We all contribute a lot of different things to the team, but we also specialise in certain areas; Dan manages our graphic design, Mary takes care of much of the community management, social media and administration work, and Josh writes and develops features for the platform on top of being the resident comedian of the team. Outside of the HQ, we all have jobs and, pre-COVID, loved to travel and see shows together. We live in the UK, US and Canada respectively, but we stay in touch daily.
How did AFI News HQ get started?
The HQ was actually not started by us. A fan named Jason created the site and over the years we inherited the work, initially starting as writers on the site way back when to now managing the entire production. Mary has been with the team the longest and their dedication over the years has helped get us to where we are now. The current three person team has been in place since around 2016.
When did you first see AFI in concert?
- Dan – 2010 during the Crash Love Tour in Birmingham, UK
- Mary – First saw them in 2007 at Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI
- Josh – November 9th, 2009 at the Fillmore Detroit
When did the band become aware of your page?
Adam, AFI’s drummer, mentioned us in an interview right when we started in 2009, saying that we kept him up to date on news he didn’t even know about. From there our readership grew and now the band members follow us and interact with our content regularly.
How has the work vs. reward changed over 11 years of managing the site?
When we started it was very news-focused, which meant lots of late nights and very little sleep, since news doesn’t slow down for anyone. Since we started this in high school, our priorities inevitably shifted when we all went to college, settled down, and became adults. A lot of fantastic people have come and gone from the News HQ team, but their contributions were all instrumental in getting us to where we are today. We’ve been able to keep our ever-growing community and help the band with promotion of their work while adjusting to be able to maintain a work-life balance. In terms of reward, we’re really just thankful to work in tandem with our favorite band and their management as the official fan news outlet. There are some really great perks associated with it, so we’re just grateful for what we get to do.
A few years ago, you migrated the site to the band’s official website. How did that opportunity come about?
We’ve always been risk takers, trying to push boundaries of what we can do, so we decided to bring up the idea to the band themselves. We pitched the idea in a meeting with AFI’s team and they loved it, so here we are! The band really championed us with their management, and continue to do so, for which we’re eternally grateful. Shoutout to Adam for always having our backs.
How many times have you seen the band live?
- Mary – 18 times
- Josh – 20 times
- Dan – 9 times (I live in the UK)
- Mary – Rabbits are Roadkill on Route 37
- Dan – The Days of The Phoenix
- Josh – On record, Paper Airplanes. Live, Totalimmortal.
Favorite tour lineup?
- Mary – Mourning in Amerika tour (with Rise Against and Anti-Flag)
- Dan – Deftones and AFI UK tour in 2017.
- Josh – Mourning in Amerika.
- Mary – The entire HQ staff (past and present) traveling to San Diego to see the band’s three-night residency in 2017.
- Josh – It’s a toss up between interviewing Davey Havok in a casino on the Mourning in Amerika Tour and talking guitars with Jade Puget in the middle of the street in Portland, Maine.
- Dan – Watching the band side stage during the Mourning in Amerika Tour.
What does the future hold for AFI HQ?
That’s a great question. We’re always evolving and striving to challenge ourselves to create new content and engage new people, so we’re going to keep trying to make this thing the best that it can be. We’re always looking forward to the next album cycle and the associated excitement and craziness, so keep your eyes out for that!
Do you have any advice for other people who are running fan sites/clubs or that are wanting to start one?
Do it primarily for yourself, and the rest will fall into place. If you don’t love what you do and if you aren’t passionate about it, people will see right through it, so make sure that you are invested in the work you’re putting in. At the same time, have fun — we’re all fans of something, and there’s definitely a market for whatever it is you want to write about. Just stay true to yourself and don’t compromise your integrity in exchange for views or likes.
Thanks Mary, Dan, and Josh for taking the time to chat with us!
Do you or someone you know run a fan site? Visit the Contact Us page and let us know!