Interview with The Academy Is…: Go On Over, Say Hello

The Academy Is...Really, the only thing technically classifying the following phone conversation between myself and William Becket of The Academy Is… as an interview is the presence of a microphone. He was in my neighborhood, headlining San Francisco’s Warfield Theater on the “Sleeping with Giants Tour.” After corresponding, we both made utterances of “we should hang tonight,” but in spite of our rapport over fellow gypsy ways, we were each later relieved to bypass the rendezvous. The secret about fellows like William and myself is that on tour, nine out of ten times, headphones and an episode of Extras is preferred to rock’s prototypical bottle of Jack, and when home between tours, no matter how talented, inspiring, young, or ambitious a friend’s band may be live, YouTube will always suffice.

How is the ‘Sleeping with Giants Tour’ coming along? About half of the way through?

No, it’s a pretty long tour, it’s only about three weeks in, which is, I think, about a third of the way through.

Does it feel like a third?

No, I mean, it kind of feels like it just started, to be honest. We just got through the Northwest. There were a lot of great shows up there.

What was a highlight?

We played the Showbox in Seattle, and during the last song, I jumped in the crowd and they uh, they ripped my shirt off. First they ripped it down the middle. It was one of my favorite shirts too, so that was a big bum out. Seriously, I tried to fight it off a little, but there were just too many of them.

Did you have to perform shirtless after that?

No. It was the last song—like right at the end, so thankfully, no.

Would you ever perform shirtless?

No, I wouldn’t.

How do you feel about shirtless performers?

I don’t have a body like Scott Weiland. I’m working on it, but I mean, the whole idea of it. I’m not sure if I’m that blatantly overconfident.

Are you working out?

Yeah, I mean, everyone’s doing their own thing: some pushups, sit-ups. The Butcher’s the most fit out of our clan, so we’re all taking pointers from him.

I hear The Butcher may be doing a completely nude show in body paint?

He’s probably gonna wait till Halloween for that one…

Where are you for Halloween?

Shit… I think we’re in Rhode Island. (confers with the Butcher) Hartford, Connecticut.

Are you guys dressing up together?

We’re throwing some ideas around. We thought it’d be funny to go as the Police Academy.

Where does body paint fit into Police Academy?

It doesn’t, that’s the thing. We could maybe go as our favorite super villains. You know, like, I would definitely want to go as the Joker, or maybe go as Carnage, but anything with a mask would definitely not work for me, ’cause I never sang with a mask on. Have you ever done that?

We’ve talked about this year going as the V for Vendetta faceless masked people. I think pretty quickly though that the masks are gonna move to the back of our heads.

Right—like in Vanilla Sky where he (Tom Cruise) is wearing that mask backwards and dancing all crazy…

Exactly! So other than Halloween plans, what’s special about this tour you’re on right now?

Well, this is our first headlining tour on this record, in America at least, so it’s pretty much the first time we’re playing songs from the new record… and seeing how people are responding… it’s exciting for us, and I think since we’re playing such a long set, like 19 songs every night, it’s good for our fans to get a good mix of our first record and our new record and some b- sides here and there. Overall, I think it’s a diverse and dynamic show.

I’m sure you guys have some pretty intense super- fans coming out to this tour. Any noteworthy gifts or experiences?

Yeah, there’s this one girl, or young woman… who pretty much came to every show up until Seattle. She made us these little dog tags that are all personalized and engraved, and they all have our own little message… and the date of the tour. So that was really nice, and she wrote a really really nice letter to us as well… I mean, those letters are always really uplifting, ’cause it’s a reminder that there are people who are, you know, moved and effected by music in a positive way, rather than just… going to a show to go to some show. We got a big box full of goodies last night… they included a bunch of hats. There’s a pimp hat in there. There’s one of those… you know, kinda like a bellboy hat, with the tassel on the top… I was wearing that last night on the bus… Some Pizza Hut gift certificates for 20 bucks a piece…

I love it when they have some taste, like they give you practical gifts.

Mike got a Zoolander DVD, which is extremely practical on tour. I mean, there’s always the ‘#1 guy’ ribbons, which are useless, but they’re cute, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hang them in my bunk as a nice little reminder.

Have you ever been a super-fan to anybody?

No, I mean, I was always too afraid to talk to anybody in bands. I’d go to their shows, and I’d worship their music. I was a huge Slapstick fan, they’re from Chicago, and I was a big fan of Tuesday, and The Broadways, and when Alkaline Trio came out I just fell in love with them. I used to go see them at The Fireside in Chicago. This one day I was at Woodfield Mall in the suburbs of Chicago that we all used to go to, and Matt Skiba, their singer, was there eating at this little Chinese restaurant alone with his skateboard. I thought that was really cool. I saw him and I was like, ‘Holy shit! It’s him.’ But I couldn’t go talk to him… more out of respect, ’cause he was eating, and I didn’t want to bother him.

So when you’re sitting at the mall with your skateboard, do you think that kid who loves The Academy Is… should come say hi to you?

Well, they can and they should, and I think that’s one thing—on this tour, we’re staying outside until everyone’s gone, taking pictures and doing whatever they want to do. That’s important for us—plus, it kinda kills boredom. We get to meet these people who are coming to our show, who have maybe seen us opening on bigger tours, and maybe haven’t gotten to meet us before. That’s the idea. I’d like to keep our fans close, and anybody who wants to come on along the way, they’re more than welcome.

Cool. Well, I’m not gonna finish by asking you if there’s anything interesting you want to end the interview with, because I always hate that question. Thanks for chattin’ man!

Right on.

The Academy Is… play NYC’s Nokia Theatre on Oct. 25 and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, on Oct. 26 and The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, on Oct. 30.