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Interview by Mike Mason.
Photograpy by Rob Kern.
FOON: So how's the tour been so far? We caught you early on in Columbus.
William: Great, yeah, the tour has been spectacular so far. We're about half way through and unfortunately Midtown only has one show left on the tour. We've grown close to all the bands on the tour, Midtown in particular. It's gonna be rough saying good-bye, you know but then we haven't met Silverstein before so we hope they are gonna be nice guys. It's been incredible, it's the first tour since our record (Almost Here) has been out and it's kind of our first glimpse of how the record is going over. It's been spectacular so far.
FOON: How does it feel to go on tour for as long as you have?
William: Well, for me, it's, when we first started touring a lot I had a sense of like, missing home. Now we are so used to being on the road and sitting in hotel rooms and different beds every night and driving and doing what we love every day. For me, I always feel a little strange when I'm home. To me now, this is home; there's always people back home that I miss, I'm always gonna miss my family, friends, girlfriend. It's part of making a sacrifice; it's part of going for what you believe in and what your dreams are.
FOON: A lot of the songs on your new cd Almost Here seem like they might be written about a specific girl/girls?
William: Well, not really, no. “Slow Down” is about a girl but it's more about peoples' identity. It's more about people being true to themselves and others and not taking people for granted, not taking advantage of people. I used an instance of a girl to portray that; for me it's like everything you can relate to in life, from the smallest thing; something that happened with a girl or a friend. Regardless, I think you can relate that to other things, because I'm not thinking of things with tunnel vision. I'm thinking of things in a broad scope and if something happened with a girl that prompted me to write a song, I'm not necessarily thinking about it that "pigeon-holed". I'm just thinking about things in a more grand scheme, how someone else could relate to it.
FOON: So you basically write songs so everybody can interpret or imply themselves?
William: That's what I think good art is, you can interpret it in many different ways, regardless of what my intentions were. That's what is beautiful about it.
FOON: So are you the main songwriter?
William: Yeah, on this past record, Mike (Carden) and I wrote all the songs. I wrote "Down and Out" on my own; the way we wrote the record, we would start on acoustic. Mike would have an idea for a song or I would have an idea for a song and then we would build up from there, incorporate drums, I would write the drums for the parts and then we would arrange the song together. I wrote "Down and Out" on my own, like half the song and then I played for Mike one day in the apartment and he was like, "Dude, just do that on your own. You have a good vibe going and I don't want to ruin it, it's a really personal song." Mike had input for the bridge and the rest of the song, the main scope, the message of the song. It was a great collaboration; the whole writing process was a beautiful thing. Though, I wish it was with all the members but we have revamped, we have a new drummer (Andy “the butcher” Mrotek) and guitarist (Tom Conrad) and they seem to be more eager to work and we have the same goals.
FOON: Where do you get your inspiration for the songs?
William: For me, it's the world around me. This is a really good question; every morning when I wake up I try to think of things in this manner. I think there are so many artists and so many writers, so many people, particularly lyricists that write with this sort of (dark) mindset. Imagine that your creative mind is like a dark room and most of these artists or lyricists they have a candle in front of them. They are in this dark room and don't know the depths, they don't care. All that they can see and relate to is this, like, 3 inches right in front of them. That's all they are exposed to, all they are concerned with and it's a very selfish way of thinking about art and expression. So, I think that their songs reflect that, the sort of self-loathing, hopeless, very dark songs. That's not what touches me, that's not the type of art, the type of music or the type of people that move me and motivate me. They are so wrapped up in themselves that they don't notice there might be a wall right behind them with a light switch. Flip that switch and there's a whole world around you that you didn't know existed and the room is the world, is everybody else. Then you can truly relate to everything from the trees outside to your Mom and sister, your family, friends, your enemies. You can really relate to the world and really soak it all in and reflect and express that in a more genuine, more well rounded, more global way. For me every morning when I wake up, I try to remember to flip the switch, to make sure the room is lit.
FOON: The new cd came out in February, what's next?
William: We've already written 12 or 13 songs for the new record and we are not stopping there. I have like 13 songs myself; Mike has 8 or 12 songs in his head. The Butcher (Andy Mrotek) is working on some stuff and it's a really exciting time. By the time we get into the studio, whenever that may be, probably early next year, we'll probably have over 70 or 80 songs so it'll be a fun time.
FOON: Now that the Almost Here is out, does it live up to your expectations?
William: Oh fuck yeah! Hell yeah, man! That thing is everything we wanted to say at that time; it's everything that we going through. Like we fucking installed ourselves into the real world. Mike and I moved into an apartment and wrote a record; that was the plan, to move in and get away, for us our thinking was, how can you write a record that can touch people of all ages, people of all colors, people of all classes. How can you touch people on a big scale if you live at home with your parents and you are not self-sufficient, you don't have your own responsibilities? So we moved into an apartment together and had shitty retail jobs in the mornings and then wrote songs and drank and hung out until like three in the morning and then get up and do it all over again. Really installed ourselves into the real world, responsibilities and just went for it. The record bleeds that; you can smell it on the record. We had two and a half weeks to record it, budget constraints and stuff. We knew we were gonna write a great record, we did and it worked out, we love it.
FOON: Is there anything that didn't make the cd that you wish would have made it?
William: Well, sure but at the end of the day it's like, no, we had two and a half weeks to do it, we didn't have enough time to do anymore songs. We had a few songs that didn't make the record, we had 18 songs before we went in and we had to cut it down; we had enough songs, that's the beauty of it. It's an exciting time and those songs might emerge on the next record.
FOON: What's your favorite song off the new release?
William: That's hard to say. There's no fillers on the record, in my opinion. For me it's hard because without one of the songs, the record wouldn't be what it is. But there are some songs that are closer to me personally, struck a chord with me like "Down and Out" for instance, "The Phrase That Pays" says a lot of things that I was really proud of saying, that I needed to say, things that I was thinking about a lot. Songs like "Black Mamba", "Almost Here", most of what I'm saying on the record and the message of what we're saying, in its entirety, I'm extremely proud of and it's everything that I needed to say at that point.
FOON: What's your favorite band, all time?
William: Oh man, that's so hard; I'll just tell you a few of the bands I love. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are probably the two stables of why I even started listening to music. I was really into Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam but now I still find myself listening to the bands that I've always loved and the bands that have always had such a big impact on me and at the same time had a big impact on the world. Bands like U2, Simon and Garfunkel; I'm also a sucker for pop, I love Don Henley, Third Eye Blind. I also enjoy bands like Radiohead, Muse, that's a really cool contemporary band that I like a lot. Sort of more in that classic rock thing.
FOON: Do you have any side projects going on?
William: All of my efforts are going into this band, we always have fun, we write fun songs. I'll let you listen to a song that me and The Butcher (Butcher walks in) hey, this is the Butcher...
William: Butcher, myself and Travis from Gym Class Heroes we wrote a song in the hotel in Seattle, it was hilarious. In all seriousness, everyone’s efforts are for The Academy Is...
FOON: Do you have a favorite show that sticks out in your memory?
William: That's really tough man, as we continue playing shows in places that we've been before, without a record out and now the record is out, we go there again and it's just monumental. Those are my favorite shows, where you can see the difference. Some cities that we absolutely love playing are, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis is wonderful, Milwaukee, New York, New Jersey, Cleveland, Chicago but we did a record release show back home at a small place called Knights Of Columbus. It's where we got our start, we played our first few shows there and we played the whole record and a few songs off the ep and it was such and incredible feeling to see our friends from high school and people who we knew growing up and our first fans ever. It was a wonderful thing, not only for Mike and myself and Adam (Siska) but for the Butcher and Tom - being new to the band; they felt like it was, it just made sense, like they were there the whole time. Butcher just nodded, he's eating.
FOON: So you guys are on the Warped tour this year?
William: Yeah, we're doing three weeks on the east and southern-east coast as well. We did Chicago Warped tour previously but this our first consecutive Warped tour.
FOON: You and Mike founded The Academy Is...?
William: Yeah, Mike and I started it. Adam our bass player was in there too from the beginning. It started off as a four piece with Mike, our old drummer, Adam and myself. Then we added a guitarist and recorded an ep and then we started writing the new record; that's when everything sort of shifted and our minds shifted away from the other guys. We had different... I guess our goals were too high and too ambitious for what they were capable of doing at that time. They are great musicians.
FOON: Stupid question time...
William: Bring it, man!
FOON: If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
William: Probably, this is a really good question... What would my favorite superhero power be? Damn, probably flying.
FOON: What would your superhero name be?
William: I haven't thought about this ever... Hey, Ryan, what would my superhero name be?
Ryan: Captain Spectacular.
FOON: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
William: That's where we are playing tomorrow (laughs). I want to go overseas so bad, I want to play overseas and soak in Europe, soak in Japan and Asia, Africa would be awesome to see. I want to see the world, pretty generic answer but it's genuine, I do want to see everywhere.
FOON: What's the weirdest thing you've ever signed?
William: Foreheads and stuff are kind of weird, that creeps me out when they ask for that. I don't sign boobs, I just, I'll paint boobs though (laughs). A high school bathroom pass, drivers license, a ten dollar bill; I'm like, just buy one of our cds or shirts instead.