CATCH A HOT ONE, and maybe some other Art of Drowning-turns-17 musings

Was just revisiting The Art of Drowning going into its 17th year (99% sure that Sept 19 wikipedia date is a week early) and was thinking about this one.

Is Catch a Hot One the most underrated AFI song? It doesn’t get any of the deep cut credit that non-album tracks and b-sides do and has never been played live (as far as I know), but I’d put every part of it among my favorite AoD-era moments. It’s like its greatness is hidden in plain site or something.


The Nephilim: sXe song thinly veiled as a late Nitro-era AFI vaguely gothy poetic song. I dig it.

Dream of Waking: I always thought this song was really cool and different from anything else they’ve ever done. I wonder if this is what AFI could have sounded like if the Frank Vicario thing had panned out.

6 to 8: Do you think anyone has ever put this back-to-back on a mix with Motorhead’s “(We Are) The Road Crew”? Lars Frederiksen, maybe? Ha.

Hmm…Catch A Hot One is probably (I hate to put it this way) my least favorite song on that album, if there is a such thing as having a least favorite song on that album lol. It’s just that there are so many other songs there that I prefer better. I do love the bass line though, in general Hunter fucking killed it on Drowning, some of my favorite bass work from any band, ever.

I love the guitar in Dream of Waking, especially in the chorus. It’s just so damn good. This one dude has an almost flawless cover of it with no backing, makes me realize how brilliant and in a way, unorthodox, Jade’s guitar work really is.

Catch a Hot One’s standing among AFI fans probably suffers from the fact that it shares real estate with some extremely good songs; coming after Days of the Phoenix and before that train of 4 awesome songs that is Wester/6 to 8/The Despair Factor/Morningstar, it’s very much outshined by its neighbors. It probably would be appreciated better as a track on Black Sails in the Sunset.

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That’s a pretty fair assessment and you’re probably right. The Despair Factor is the only one of those songs I might like more than Catch a Hot One, but I’m definitely in the minority.

Seeing Dream of Waking played without vocals or rhythm definitely highlights what a weirdo song it is. Wonder how much of it was written with Hunter and Adam around to fill it in.

Some of those songs are structurally fairly unusual - verses that show up once and are never revisited (Days of the Phoenix, 6 to 8), songs without a final chorus (The Despair Factor, Dream of Waking), lots of modulations (The Lost Souls, A Story at Three, 6 to 8). Some songs, Davey doesn’t even write a second verse (The Nephilim) or the second verse is just repeated (also Days of the Phoenix, 6 to 8) And then there’s Smile, which doesn’t really have much of a chorus at all. I could list the the tempo shifts in the bridge, but they have, at this point, become normal in AFI’s music.
Yes, in the grand scheme of things, artists have done much, much weirder stuff. But compared to AFI’s repertoire on later albums (and pop music in general), it’s really quite unusual. They don’t really do it that way anymore.

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Totally agreed, really by DU their songwriting had become more formulaic of like:

V1 - Chorus - V2 - Chorus - Bridge - Chorus/Reprise

Not in everything post - Sing the Sorrow, but it’s a lot more commonplace, or close to that structure.

I think my favorite AFI song structurally is Synesthesia. The breakdown is almost like a separate song itself. And I love the vocal melody in the chorus. I love how Dave sings “say you will follow me” and “sing again, follow me”, it’s just so unique.

Sorry, back to Drowning - I still adore that album. I think the lyrics are just fantastic, there’s a lighter side to the songs that really make it fun to just jam to, until The Despair Factor, in a way that’s really so familiar to how they ended Black Sails and Sing the Sorrow. I love how they arranged the songs on all of those albums, there’s always such a huge, powerful feeling and then ends softly. Just wonderful. :slight_smile:

Yeah, although Decemberunderground did have The Interview and certainly, The View From Here (which should have been the hidden track on DU), which are structurally unusual. Beyond that it’s just straight pop formula.
One thing I really like about The Art of Drowning is it’s one of those rare albums where the songs seem to get more and more epic as the album moves along. Even with hiccups like Smile or the aforementioned Catch A Hot One, it’s just a great song followed by an amazing song followed by a song that’s even more powerful than that right up to Morningstar, where you can’t believe that they were capable of doing that. Very few albums pull this off. Yes of course that is opinion, and I couldn’t explain why that is. Maybe it’s something to do with moving away from the old hardcore tendencies. Feels like it’s going somewhere.
Here’s an Art of Drowning related unpopular opinion: Morningstar is better than God Called in Sick Today.

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I love The View From Here. :slight_smile:

I totally agree with you about Drowning feeling more and more epic as it moves along. I really feel like it begins to start getting that way by A Story At Three (that is one of my favorite songs from that album, but then again, most of them are lol), and it really just takes me away right up to Morningstar. I definitely believe that The Despair Factor is the centerpiece of the album, though, the denouement, so to speak.

Morningstar better than God Called in Sick Today? Hmmm…I personally can’t choose one over the other because in my opinion they are quite different. God Called in Sick Today is definitely more of a ballad, it has a huge, crescendo, epic feel to it, while Morningstar is sort of like a whispered post-script, like a secret, but a very important one. They’re both fantastic in their own right.

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I also prefer Morningstar to God Called in Sick Today.

Disagree strongly with Smile being a hiccup though. Ha.

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Agreed. Smile is the shit.


Catch a Hot One is basically my favorite some on that album next to Initiation/Lost Souls.

Plus, I love how Davey sounds throughout the whole song.

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Catch a Hot One and Weathered Tome both get the sad treatment of being slightly less beloved than the rest of their respective albums. Neither have been played live either :broken_heart: Though I suppose if Who Knew is possible, anything is.

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I believe this is for the exact reason that StageGhost mentioned. Weathered Tome comes between The Last Kiss (I mean, fuckin’ seriously) and At A Glance. Both are fucking amazing. Not saying Weathered Tome isn’t also great, but I really think anything that would have been put right after The Last Kiss would have suffered a similar fate. Then you have At A Glance and that fantastic harmonized outro that leads right into God Called in Sick Today.

I would also say Paper Airplanes gets a similar treatment, although I do think they finally did play it live recently… I mean, it comes right before This Celluloid Dream. The two are similar in my opinion, except This Celluloid Dream is totally superior both aurally and lyrically. I sort of wished they would have axed it in place of Synesthesia. Or Now the World. Or even Reivers Music. I honestly prefer the demo of Paper Airplanes to the album version; the demo just sounds heavier and the chorus is quite different. I still think the others I listed are superior. Not that it’s bad by any means, not at all, it’s just unfortunate that they put it right before freaking This Celluloid Dream. I tend to not skip any songs when I listen to Sing the Sorrow, but at times my fingers itch to just skip Paper Airplanes and then listen to This Celluloid Dream like 10 times in a row because it’s just that good. Very rarely do I ever pull up Paper Airplanes on my phone, and if I do it’s almost always the demo.

Over the years I heard more people clamoring for Paper Airplanes live than The Great Disappointment before they both finally got played this year. I would say TGD was the underappreciated Catch a Hot One/Weathered Tome in that sense, despite standing out a bit musically. I enjoy the rawness of the Paper Airplanes demo but it’s clear they were struggling coming up with a chorus. I’ve heard of people preferring the chorus in the demo and I have to imagine that’s purely because it’s more “shouty.” Songwriting wise, the hook in the final version is a lot stronger.

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I love The Great Disappointment. I remember a lot of people writing it off as “boring” when Sing the Sorrow dropped, which is a total shame. I believe most of those people never really understood what Dave was getting at with those lyrics - which are actually some of the easiest for me to discern the meaning of on that album - or they just never gave it a chance. They’re brilliant.

I like the chorus better in the Paper Airplanes demo because of the change of tempo. It’s quite unexpected and adds a nice amount of color in my opinion, and maybe they eventually changed it because they felt it didn’t fit. The demo also has a longer (edit: just went and listened to both again and it’s not longer, just different) instrumental part in the bridge before the final chorus, which always just sounded so intense to me. There’s things to like in both versions (clean backup vox in the studio version were better, in my opinion) and I totally agree about the hook.


I gotta be honest… Paper Airplanes definitely isn’t my favorite STS song. Bottom line: when seeing AFI it doesn’t matter what songs they play, the show is amazing. Dancing Through Sunday is one of my favorites on that album… oh, AND Death of Seasons. :slight_smile:

You know, I’d also have to add that there are songs I liked, but didn’t love, until I heard the live versions, and they sounded so much better, even through a shitty camcorder. Example: when listening to Drowning, Ever And A Day had always been one of my least favorite songs on that album. Not that I hated it or thought it was mediocre, it just didn’t inspire the same intensity of feeling as most of the other songs. That is, until I watched the show from 2003 when they played the London Astoria, and I thought it sounded amazing. The fucking bass line is fantastic and it really complements what Jade is playing, especially the clean parts at the beginning. I’m guessing it wasn’t too impressive to me on the album because of how it was mixed - which is odd, because in general I think the mix is great on that album, most songs I can pick out each of the four parts perfectly and focus on one of them for the entire song if I wish.

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Here’s another musing that I’ve had about Art of Drowning for a while: If you listen to Art of Drowning on headphones, you can actually hear the tape hiss cutting in and out on Davey’s vocal track - thanks to the power of noise gating. This is especially pronounced on quiet songs like the outro of The Despair Factor and Morningstar. According to Hunter, this was the first AFI record he’d recorded to tape - other records like Black Sails and Shut Your Mouth were recorded to DAT! This can be distracting if you let it get to you. Perhaps it’s a good thing they’d recorded all of Sing the Sorrow’s vocals digitally.
Despite this, they are among my favorite songs on that record.


I actually love that. I love hearing little nuances like that on albums, especially with AFI. It just sounds so very organic to me. I’ve noticed a couple of other things, particularly on Black Sails and (I believe) Shut Your Mouth. At the end of At A Glance you can hear Jade (I presume) step on the foot switch to cut off the distortion. (I’m guessing that’s what this is, as it changes the tone of the last chord; I can’t imagine what else it might be.) There are a couple of places too at the ends of songs (can’t remember which ones or from which album) where you can hear the amps buzzing. Of course, you have to be listening with headphones and have the volume up to almost max, but if you pay attention you can hear it. I love that kind of stuff, makes me feel like they’re rehearsing in my living room lol.