The Academy Is... have been taking the UK by storm on their current sold out tour, but I managed to get front man William Beckett to take some time out of his busy schedule and steal him for a chat.

R13: You have a new album called 'Santi' coming out tell us about it and how it differs from your previous album.
William: 'Santi' is our new album coming out on April 2nd. The biggest difference between this record and 'Almost Here' which came out four years ago, besides the fact people change in four years, is that on 'Almost Here' Mike and I wrote all the songs for the most part and sort of dictated what everything was going to be. On this record it was very much a true collaboration between all five members, everybody brought something vital to the puzzle and it was important for us to capture everyone's personalities. Also, we wrote it in a rehearsal place where we could play loudly and have actual rehearsals, that's how a lot of songs were spawned; just by experimenting and bouncing ideas off of each other, so if you didn't come in with your game that day, it made the day slow. Overall it was a wonderful way to do it, and that really reflects on the record, it's very live sounding. A lot of records these days don't sound that way because they're very stale and everything is done to perfection on a computer. We just hit record and went with it and did one or two takes. It's a very natural progression and we are madly in love with 'Santi' but we also can't wait to write the new record, we still have the itch to create.

R13: Do you think Michael joining the band has affected the way you sound on 'Santi'?
W: Yes definitely. I mean, we had most of the songs outlined when he came in, we had known him about a year and half, he was playing in Butch Walker our producer's band but he's a lot younger than Butch who's turning 25. We hit it off straight away, he lived in Sydney, Australia growing up and has been in the States for a couple of years now. We really admired his guitar playing but didn't know if it was going to work with our band, but him and Mike have this extremely intense guitar sound between the two of them which I feel is a very unique sound. He helped inspire us to make the best record that we can.

R13: Do you enjoy the recording process?
W: Yeah now we do, before it wasn't the most enjoyable experience because we had so much on our shoulders like personally. There's still a lot of pressure on me because this is the sophomore effort of a pretty successful debut. There was a lot of stress and pressure but when I realised I just have to do what I do and write what I feel it turned into something else and became right. We became it.

R13: Wasn't 'Santi' rehearsed in an old abandoned cheese factory?
W: Yeah, in the south side of Chicago, one of our producer friends is turning it into studios but it still in the construction phase so there was some wacky stuff in hidden rooms and corridors. It was a good environment to do it because it was so isolated with no distractions.
R13: So it wasn't just because you're all huge fans of cheese then?
W: (Laughs) No, but our drummer is a cheese head, he's from Wisconsin which is pretty much the cheese capital of America.

R13: How important is The Academy Is... to you?
W: Well I don't have much else, I have my family, I have my friends; very few friends and I have this band. It's extremely important, it is everything to me.
R13: What about the other way round, how important are you to them?
W: Oh, I don't know, you'd have to ask them. I think we all find each other extremely important to each other, we all inspire each other a great deal, and it's a great feeling to be in that environment constantly.

R13: How does it feel coming halfway across the world and selling out venues at shows you're headlining?
W:It feels great, this is our fourth time here and Britain has always been so amazing to us. We're going to Germany for the first time in like three days which is really, really exciting. It's a great feeling to be branching out and I think this next record is a more global orientated record where as the last was more self involved, and talking about self reliance and going after your dreams, which is very important but I think that this record deals with a lot more domestic and global issues. When you pursue your dreams you either fail and keep trying or you succeed and keep trying to find something else. This record is about my personal experiences but the perspective has been flipped all different angles and then I wrote the songs after exploring different perspectives rather than being self-involved.
R13: So does that mean that this record is a lot more grown up then 'Almost Here'?
W: That's one of those trap questions isn't it? I just think that this record focuses on some of the same themes as 'Almost Here', but also focuses on different themes that we weren't able to write about at that time because we were just unaware of things at that time, and that's due to lack of experience not age, some 13 year old have experienced much more than I have. There are lots of things that are easy to explore, but there are so many domestic issues that people need to escape from in someway and that's what so beautiful about music it can provide that escape, whether it's blaring your music so you can't hear your parents fighting or being in some crap class at school and sticking your headphones in.
R13: We know what you got up to at school then!
W: No, no when I was at school it was different I was very focused in my school, but my story is a whole other story. If you talk to different people in our band alone everyone has different experiences. Those are things I keep in mind lyrically when I write. I'm not always this serious, when we're just hanging out we have fun, and have a couple of drinks, but we do have playful songs on our record because it's important to show that side of us.

R13: You seem time be constantly touring how do you keep the lead in your pencil?
W: (Laughs) A lot of it has to do with the scene that we grew up in. There was a time in music in the States where there was STP, Smashing Pumpkins, the Chilli Peppers, all amazing bands that were putting out amazing records in the early 90s, then all of a sudden all these bands started mimicking that and watering it down. Then you have Nickleback, Creed and Hinder, all these bands that our now selling records that make crap music in my opinion and it's completely uninspiring. For us when that shit started to come out we stopped listening to the radio for new music, so we went into the punk rock scene and watched bands in dingy ass old bowling alleys. This emo/indie scene has been going on for a very, very long time and that was inspiring for us, doing it the hard way, touring and playing small venue and impacting people in a way that you can only do in a small venue. Playing live is a very important thing, you don't need the radio or record labels to have success, we didn't for 'Almost Here'. The one constant throughout everything we do is touring and playing live and having that relationship with your fans, and we wouldn't be able to do a lot of what we do without a label.
R13: Do you see record labels as the necessary evil?
W: Yeah, but the music business is changing so much, CDs are becoming obsolete. With the internet and Myspace anyone can say they have a band and with that a lot of the industry is getting so saturated that it is important to be unique and different but still be yourself amongst a world where everyone is becoming their own star, everyone wants to be the most popular or famous. It's important for people to be themselves and not do things for the wrong reasons.

R13: How does it make you feel knowing that you're inspiring a new generation to play music?
W: It's really exciting. I've made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes but it inspires me to try and live a good a life as I can, if I'm a role model to people especially younger people it's important for me to portray myself in the best way, which I haven't always done. It's a very strange thing, it was never a goal for me, my goal was to write music. I'm a very flawed person and I write about my flaws, it's like my therapy, and if that means people are more honest with each other, if that's the effect I have then I will continue to keep doing what I'm doing, you know, but I'm not going to change the way I write to further people. I wouldn't be writing if I didn't mean it, everything I write is with intentions knowing full well that people will hear it.

R13: You guys are good friends with Fallout Boy, Panic and Gym class heroes, is there any secret rivalry between you?
W: Haha, no!

R13: Who would win in an Anchorman style fight?
W: Panic! would lose by a lot, they're only little guys. With Michael I think we have more manpower. I want to fight Pete one on one, I don't think I'd necessarily beat Pete but it would be a good fight. Panic! would lose for sure, Gym Class would probably win, we'd be second I think, although Andy from Fall Out Boy probably has some moves up his sleeves. I think The Patrick would try to outsmart everybody, but I'd go straight for Pete. (Laughs)

R13: Do you get sick of being labelled as emo?
W: I don't care at all, I got called emo before I was in this band. Compare it to the early 90s and "grunge" there were bands like Smashing Pumpkins, STP, Red Hot Chilli Peppers they were all considered grunge, but if you look at a Nirvana record verses a STP record verses or a Pumpkins record they all have completely different sounds. When you look at their full catalogues of music they are all very different. With that in mind and you look at what's happening now with what's considered Emo music bands like Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is..., Panic! At The Disco, Cobra Starship those five bands are all considered emo, but if you listen to their records, especially the new records there's not one band that sounds a like, it's just new music. So it doesn't bother me at all, it's just something people call it, people have to call something something to group new music together. Your music will ultimately define your band whether you're going to stick around and progress or just make the same record over and over. A lot of mainstream bands, the bands are popular now are making the same record over and over but if you continue to progress then you become something beyond the genre, beyond the tag name. When you think of grunge you think of the early 90s, so in 20 years when people think of emo they will think of early to late 2000s.

R13: What about rumours you hear about yourself, do you get fed up of them?
W: Anyone that knows me knows the rumours are untrue, people that know me know me, rumours are inevitable. It only bothers me when my family are involved or people attack people who aren't involved in this; attack me all you want I'm a strong enough person, I can handle it. In today's age there's little to know privacy to be had which is a scary thing because privacy is important to me. It's important to me to protect my family.

R13: Tell me about The Butcher, he was a vegetarian and working as a butcher before he started the band, how did that work?
W: Well, he needed a job, he was poor living in a bad part of the city in Moweaqua.
R13: I'm veggie but I don't think I could do that.
W: Really? Well, I guess he just had to do something; it was either that or work in McDonalds, so he was working as a butcher and he said that he was finding it hard before the end, so he was pretty excited to join the band.
R13: I guess any normal person would be, I know what I'd rather do if I was offered a job as a butcher or being in a band.
W: Yeah I guess, we always had our eye on Butcher he was in bands growing up and playing in bands on the same scene as us. We always had our eye on him because he's such a great drummer so when the opportunity came to ask him we were really nervous that he wouldn't do it, he was still working on his own material with his own band. Everyone had a job except Siska he's never worked a day in his life, he'll tell you that he worked one day, but he just threw away what he was meant to do and just went to a show instead. We all had our jobs.
R13: Can you ever imagine yourself going back to do a regular day job?
W: Can I imagine it? I'd like not to imagine it, I like to do this I think I was put here to do this with my life, this is the road I was suppose to take. But if all went to hell and no one listened to music anymore and it went to the dark ages then I'd have to do something. If I wasn't doing music as my primary source of life and income I'd probably be doing something similar to you, journalism or writing, something creative.

R13: What crazy antics do you get up to on the road?
W: Some things just have to stay...(laughs)
R13: Is it a case of what happens on tour stays on tour?
W: Sort of, we don't get too crazy we have a couple of drinks, some nights are crazier than others, some nights we just go to bed. Last night a few of us went to a rave party, I didn't go but I guess it was sort of like that bit in Vanilla Sky where he wears the mask and freaks out. We try to stay focus, but we like to have fun, nothing too crazy despite what people have heard. In the UK it's different we like to go out every night.

R13: What have you still got left to achieve?
W: Endless things, I want to travel more, I want to do more good for humanity with our band but we have to be in a position where we're able to, we cant do much for anything right now, but we encourage people to go to to build awareness of the way we're destroying our planet, that's one thing I'd like to get more into in the future if we can, and just continue to be happy, love life, live the most happy and positive life that we can, have fun while we still can.

R13: What can we expect to see from you over the next year?
W: A lot of 'Santi' that's for sure, 'Santi' all over the place, more touring. Hopefully we'll do a club tour, but nothing's in stone right now. This tour was kind of a reminding people that we're still here and have a new record coming out tour, but it's actually turned into the best tour we've ever done here by far. The fans have been so incredible and we've had some memorable shows over the past week, shows that I'll never forgot personally, it's a good feeling.
R13: Will you be playing any festivals?
W: It's in the work, we're still talking about doing it, we really want to it's just a matter of scheduling.

R13: That's great, thank you so much for your time.