Audio File Format (or AFF as they’re more commonly known today) didn’t start off as purveyors of the pop-punk frat party anthems they’re most famous for. Long before “Pink or Stink” became the summer of 2003’s go-to jam for the Mustang-driving, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing set, they were wallowing in dream-pop obscurity.
Being late to a party already abandoned by the hosts, All The Way Through (1998, Cloud Crop Records) is probably the best American shoegaze album you’ve never heard—think a more garage-rock Black Tambourine meeting a heavy metal version of Starflyer 59 but run through a vacuum cleaner hose once owned by Kevin Shields. Limited to 1000 pressings (most of which reportedly never left the basement of Cloud Crop president Josh Hemming‘s mom), not very many people outside of a few reviewers and friends of the band ever knew the album existed.
Singer Colin Whyte has gone on record (in a Spin interview) saying of the apocryphal album, “We like to think that album never happened. I guess it actually didn’t. Luckily, our label were a bunch of fuck-ups.”
In a separate interview, when asked if he held ill-feelings towards Hemming, Whyte said, “Josh? Naw. I still buy coffee from him when I go home. He always jokes about putting those CDs on Ebay. But, you know, that’d involve him getting them out of that basement. I guess Starbucks keeps him pretty busy.”
In the end things worked out for AFF, though it would have been interesting to hear how the band might have developed if All The Way Through had been the album to capture the public’s attention instead of 2001’s Snot-T As Yr Face.