Q&A: WIlliam Beckett of The Academy Is... - Omaha.com
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Q&A: WIlliam Beckett of The Academy Is...
By Kevin Coffey
World-Herald Staff Writer


In 2011, William Beckett disbanded his popular band, The Academy Is...

He wasted no time after killing the pop punk-sounding group and began writing new material for a solo career.

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Who: William Beckett of The Academy Is with Jillette Johnson

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St.

Tickets: $12 in advance or $14 day of show at www.etix.com or Homer’s Music

Information: www.onepercentproductions.com or 402-884-5353

Last year, Beckett released a trilogy of EPs that depicted the rise and fall of a relationship and ditched the pop punk for electro pop. Beckett then took it further by releasing “The Pioneer Sessions,” a stripped-down, acoustic re-recording of the 12 songs from the EPs.

Now, he’s on a tour that runs through August and includes a stop at The Waiting Room Lounge on Sunday.

We talked to Beckett while he drove through California on his way to Portland, Ore.

Question. How has the tour been?

Answer. It’s been great. There have been really cool, intimate crowds. I’ve been playing for about an hour to an hour and a half every night. It’s been everything I wanted it to be.

Q. Are you playing with a band or are you still doing it solo?

A. I have a band in a box. It takes it out of that boring singer-songwriter world. My records aren’t just acoustic folk songs. They’re full-production songs that my producer and I played all the instruments. I’m taking the drums and the bass and the auxiliary instruments — piano and synths — and that’s what I’m playing with.

Q. You played with a full band for so long before. Has it been hard to move on from The Academy Is...?

A. Nope. Not really. When I started touring and playing music, I did it on my own. It’s nothing really new to me. I did a bunch of acoustic tours while I was still in the band. It’s something I’m extremely comfortable with. In most ways, I prefer it. I can be myself and say what I want and tell stories. It’s my stage to command.

It was my decision to end the band, so I was certainly prepared for what happened then.

Q. Are you more comfortable now that you can do what you want?

A. Yeah, definitely. I don’t think of it on the level of ‘do what I want,’ but I’m able to follow my instincts and make records the way that I envision them without having to compromise anything. When you’re in a band, you’re always compromising.

In a writing setting, a lot of ideas can get snuffed out before they get a chance to develop. That was always one of the biggest things that bummed me out when writing in a band. When there’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen, things can get kinda murky. The recipe can get overcomplicated and the ingredients don’t shine. (Laughs)

Q. With “The Pioneer Sessions,” did you enjoy bringing the songs back to their basics?

A. That was the idea of it — to have it completely stripped down. It’s all real live in-studio performance. That’s what we wanted to do with it: embrace the songs in their most truest forms with melody and lyric and a guitar. I wanted to show that they don’t really have to lean on the production for a song to translate.

It was also cool to put all the songs out together on one release. The songs are meant to be listened to chronologically as a group. The whole idea behind the three EPs last year was so that people could collect them and have the full story.

Q. The songs sounded good stripped-down. Is that how you write — with an acoustic guitar?

A. It just depends. Every song is different. For the most part, that’s how I start things. Then I like to deconstruct everything. The melody and lyric and the chord progression are the main things. Then I like to take it out of guitar world and see what I can do with it with other instruments and elements that are maybe a little more interesting.

That’s sort of how it starts. It’s my means to an end, my weapon of choice.

Q. Were any of the songs from the three EPs left over from The Academy Is...?

A. Ninety percent of all of it was new, but I had been writing a bunch for the Academy record. Plus I got a couple months to write for myself after the fact — after the breakup. Everything was new and fresh.

After I ended the band, I hit a huge writing streak where I was just on fire. I feel like I’m still there particularly with the new record that I just recorded. I’m really, really excited about it. When you’re on, in that way, you just gotta keep on going.

Q. I knew you were working on a new record. So, you’re done with it now?

A. Yeah. It’s finished recording. Now it’s in mix. I’m extremely excited. It’s easily my best material yet, and I’m excited to be releasing a record with a label now. I feel like the partnership with Equal Vision will be an excellent one.

They let me make the record that I wanted to make. I talked to a bunch of labels about signing and for them, they loved what I was doing on my own. They just want to build on that.

Q. You have a pretty good relationship with your fans. How did you develop that?

A. I don’t take any of them for granted, and I’m very active on the social networking. I just enjoy being connected with my fans. That’s one of the elements that was really important to me. It’s something that I like to do.

Q. Speaking of your blog, I saw you’re reading the “Game of Thrones” books. Where are you in the series?

A. I’m on the fourth one. It’s slow going, man. Especially compared to “Storm of Swords.” That one was action-packed. But, I hear that it’s worth it.

Q. So, back to the music, when is your new album coming out?

A. My record is coming out at the end of summer after Warped Tour. I’m also touring with Hellogoodbye.

Q. Will you play any of the new songs when you play in Omaha?

A. On this tour, I’m debuting one new song called “Benny & Joon,” like the movie.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1557, kevin.coffey@owh.com, twitter.com/owhmusicguy

Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey

kevin.coffey@owh.com    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

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