First things first. American Hi-Fi is a terrible name for a band. An absolute toilet name for a band. In the UK (in point of fact, anywhere other than America) calling your band that is almost a guarantee that most people will dismiss you before the needle has hit the groove. Or as it was in 2001, before the CD-R has gone into the carousel… Or if you’re a rich kid with a computer, before the Mp3 has finished downloading.
There was a time where all 3 of these formats were still eyeing each other suspiciously. Those of us with battery powered mini-disc players could watch the format wars from afar. Safe in the knowledge we’d made the right choice… American Hi-Fi had a drawing of a cassette on their CD cover. Perhaps the first hipsters to embrace the dying format all the way back before it was even looking peaky.
What can I tell you about American Hi-Fi? A pop punk outfit who rode the Blink-Sum-Yellowcard train onto the radio with a song so Avril it was no surprise to learn that front man Stacey Jones (close but no cigar Grateful Deadheads) had actually written it to be performed by a girl band. Not an imaginary girl band like Josie & The Pussycats or Crucial Taunt but Stacey had previous. He was once the drummer in Veruca Salt and was in Letters To Cleo. This song would sound amazing by either of those bands. Amazing.
Jones went in for forming his own band (like some pop punk Dave Grohl) instead and formed AHF. He took this cassette covered CD and Flavor Of The Weak to the top 40 and with his ironic reenactment of cult classic fan movie Heavy Metal Parking Lot for a video treatment. The real talking point for the single though is how three words rode into the top 10 with the barely rhyming couplet for the ages as a chorus:
“Too stoned, Nintendo!”
In the rock clubs we were all too enthralled to The Datsuns, American Idiot, Cake and Fountains Of Wayne and we were powerless to stop this going all the way. It was so very hooky. So Bohemian Like You but so self aware it was a Loser Baby (so why don’t you kill me?). Alongside Sonne, Hash Pipe and Chop Suey but with a clean cut image, a smattering of wordplay and hooks like one of those fish you don’t want to step on at the beach, Flavor Of The Weak got the better of us.