There’s a lot of history at Q101. We’ve grown up watching a lot of incredible musicians come out of Chicago. But what we find truly flattering is finding out that some of those musicians grew up with us, too.
My first memory of William Beckett involves a snowy January, 2005 night and a club in my hometown of St. Louis. He was fronting a then little known band from Chicago called The Academy Is…
The Academy Is… went on to make three great albums and tour the world, all the while repping their Chicago roots. The band members announced last fall that they were breaking up. Lucky for us though, Mr. Beckett isn’t done with music. The singer took time out of his busy touring schedule to answer some of Local 101’s questions via email about his new solo career, recent EP and memories of Q101.
Local 101 - William, you put out Walk the Talk in April but it’s been awhile since we’ve heard from you, even before The Academy Is… announced their breakup last October. What else have you been up to?
WB - First of all, its great to be talking with you. I’ve listened to Q101 all my life and I’m very excited to see its soul living on the web. Anyways, to the questions.
Since I announced the end of TAI I’ve literally spent ninety percent of my time in the studio working on new songs, experimenting with my sound and honing in on my artistic direction. Thankfully it came very naturally and I continue to be in a writing groove. It feels incredible.
Local 101 - Now that you’re recording as a solo artist, is there less pressure to produce a certain sound when writing music?
WB - I wouldn’t say that there’s less pressure as much as there are less cooks in the kitchen. There can only be one executive chef in a successful kitchen, you know what I mean? Haha. Its been an extremely liberating experience being able to fully commit to my vision and my instincts without having to second and third guess myself.
Local 101 - The lyrics in your new single “Compromising Me” definitely read like you’ve changed your perspective on things lately. At what point in your life did you feel like you were compromising yourself? Did you feel like you were being compromised when it came to The Academy Is…? Did that have anything to do with the band’s decision to part ways?
WB - That song is absolutely a mantra for me and my perspective in my life and my music. I think that compromise is essential in a marriage or a relationship; business or personal. However, when it comes to art, unless everyone involved on your team shares the exact same defined vision, things can get muddled and the intentions clouded. I think there is a fine line between creative collaboration (which I excel with), and blind, forced compromise to appease the parties involved. That ended up playing a large part in my decision to part ways with my band.
Local 101 - You’ve seen a lot of Chicago bands that were in their hey day at the same time The Academy Is… was in its prime break up. Some of the guys from those groups, like Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy and Mark Rose from Spitalfield, even chose to go the solo route like you did, so, obviously, the love for making music is still there. Do you think pop punk bands have an expiration date and/or that the musicians in them have a tendency to outgrow the genre?
WB - I think it comes down to individual artists doing what feels right for them. Over time people change. Tastes change. Influences change. For me, music is the fabric of my soul, and to stop making it would be a giant disservice to myself and my fans.
Local 101 - Speaking of Chicago bands, the goal of Local 101 is to get the word out about awesome bands here in the city. Who are some of your favorite Chicago bands and musicians that are around right now?
WB - I love Local 101. Grew up listening to it. I just saw Gemini Club at Lincoln Hall a few weeks ago for the first time and they were really good. I actually went to high school with one of the guys and haven’t seen him since until that show. There is also an extremely talented singer named Jennifer Hall whose voice I adore. She is a diamond in the rough and it’s only a matter of time before she gets the exposure she deserves.
Local 101 - What’s the future looking like for you? More solo material? Maybe a new band? Either way, we’re looking forward to it.
WB - After the release of Walk The Talk I will be releasing a new EP every 3 months for the rest of the year. Each EP picks up where the last left off and, once you collect them all, reveals the full story. I just finished recording the second EP, and I am currently on tour as we speak. The tour ends in Chicago, where it all started, on May 29th at Schubas. Then the next morning I fly to Japan to perform on the Beyond the Blue Tour, then I drop by the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia on the way home. The second EP drops soon after that and I’ll be heading back out on tour to support that release as well. More on that soon…
Local 101 wants to thank William again for the kind words and taking the time to chat with us. Check out his new EP Walk the Talk out now and catch him performing Tuesday, May 29 at Schubas.