Exclusive Interview: William Beckett opens up about the Academy Is… split and the future

October 12, 2011 by Annie Zaleski

Exclusive Interview: William Beckett opens up about the Academy Is… split and the future

You even said in your farewell blog, “The skill in attending a party is knowing when to leave.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement. You’d rather split now before having that awful farewell tour where everyone’s yelling at each other or you release a record where not everyone’s heart is into it. You’d rather go out on a positive note.
And I love this band; I love the Academy Is…. I love everyone in it, and I love all of our fans. It would be a disservice to them to put on a show that we don’t believe in, that’s not everything we want, everything we’re capable of. My goal is to push myself and expand as a performer and as a writer. Now I feel like I’ve got total liberation in that way. I never cared about being cool, ever. Not in high school—that’s why I was called “faggot,” because I dressed way differently than everyone and I didn’t care. I never cared about fitting in or being cool. I feel like when you’re part of a group, a band, and people have different influences upon you, and someone may say, “Hey, that’s a bad idea, you shouldn’t wear that” or whatever. “You shouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t say that.” At this point in my life, I don’t want someone to tell me what I can and can’t say, what I can and can’t do, what I can and can’t sing. As much as there are personal aspects of this decision, it’s moreso just the point in time in my life where I need to be independent.

I know you have been writing. So what have you amassed so far?
Mike and I wrote a bunch of songs together; I wrote a bunch of songs on my own. Some stuff is going to go away. It’s unfortunate, but there are those songs I feel fit into what my vision is, and those will likely stick around. We have over 60 songs that were written over the past two years—last week, I wrote four more songs. I plan on continuing to flex that muscle until we get into the studio and even while we’re in the studio. It’s going to be a matter of what’s right for the vision, what’s right for the record. A lot of that’s going to reveal itself in the next month or two.

Are you going to go in the studio solo? Are you going to go in with musicians around you?
I’ve got some friends and I’ve got some people that are going to be included in the process. This is still a fresh wound, so I’m still trying to conceptualize exactly what it’s going to be. I know it’s going to be me, completely, as far as the identity of it. I’m really excited about it.

How would you describe the stuff you’ve been writing?
People are probably expecting a folky solo album, an acoustic solo album. That’s really the opposite of what I’m going to be doing. That’s all I’ll say [about] that now.

When someone goes solo, for some reason the immediate connotation is that it’s going to be someone with an acoustic guitar.
I don’t want to be trapped behind the guitar onstage. So we’ll see how it develops. That’s definitely not my intention, a sleepy record.

Do you know when you’re going into the studio?
It’s not completely confirmed, but [I’m going nto the studio] definitely before the first snowfall.

I’ve been speaking with Adam with a lot, and I’ve been in touch with Mike since. And we’re good. Everyone is on the same page and understands that this had to happen. You can’t really ignore the elephant in the room for five years; at some point, you’re going to get a tusk in the ass. I feel like, before that happens, we just had to address it and confront it. And now we can focus on our friendships—particularly Adam and I. That’s a big priority for us, that we remain friends.

Was it a difficult conversation when you brought it up with them that the band should break up?
Yes. It was very difficult. It’s not the easiest thing. You can kind of equate it to a divorce or something. But instead of one person, you’ve divorcing multiple people. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re all adults now. And I think we handled it that way. We took responsibility for the band and what was best for it—and this case, what was best was to let go.

What will you miss most about being in the band?
Probably hanging out with Adam, and maybe playing a lot of those songs. It’s almost too soon to know exactly, but I’m very comfortable moving forward. Doing it this way is a way that we can—or personally, I can look at what we did and what we accomplished and be proud of it, and be happy that we did what we did, and we made the choices that we did. We got to see the world together time and time again which was amazing. And I hope to do that again with my new project.

You do sound very at peace. You seem excited to have this blank slate in front of you.
Like I said, it’s very liberating. I’m more inspired than I’ve been since I picked up a guitar. It’s a good time in my life. I know that might be hard to hear for some people who are really upset about this, but they have to understand this wasn’t an impulse thing. This was a cumulative decision that led to this after a long period of time. You’re going to get a better product, a better result out of it, from all of us. Everyone’s going to be able to focus on whatever it is they want to pursue—whether it’s music or not—to their fullest. I really hope that we can stay close. alt

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william beckett interview exclusive the academy is... break-up

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