A rock star with a sense of responsibility

An interview with The Academy Is… frontman William Beckett

Part one of a two-part interview

William Beckett, at age 20, is already stepping forward as one of the most important musical voices to come out of Chicago in decades.

The charismatic The Academy Is… frontman is easily one of the most level-headed rock stars one could ever meet. The same long locks and boyish grin that make his female fans swoon are a deceptive cover for a man who has a concise plan and distinct vision for reaching his numerous goals.

As he and his bandmates continue on a winding and potentially distracting path to stardom, Beckett made it very clear during a recent tour stop in Freeport that his focus is straight ahead.

The Rock River Times (TRRT): Since the record came out, obviously the crowds have been getting bigger, and people have been getting more into your band. In the last issue of AP (Alternative Press Magazine) you were ranked No. 2 in the reader’s poll. How do you react to that?

William Beckett (WB): It’s kind of surreal because it’s intangibly tangible—you see it, but at the same time you don’t. It hasn’t really registered yet that we’re not just a support band anymore. It was all part of our goals, and we knew this was going to happen, but it’s happening right now, and we’re trying to remain level headed and grounded and remind ourselves that this is nowhere near where our ultimate goal is.

TRRT: What is the ultimate goal?

WB: Well, the bands that motivate us and the bands that influence us are international bands like U2, The Police, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and Radiohead (to be) more contemporary. And something so appealing about those bands, beyond the longevity of their careers, is the way they could transcend so many different boundaries and barriers like race, social class, age, culture, language, and especially time. It really transcends decades and trends. There’s something about integrity, there’s something about style, and there’s something about art and substance—you just come back to that, and it seems like a lot of popular music is missing that. Fall Out Boy: right now they’re storming the nation, but they worked their asses off. That’s what we’re doing. If you’ve heard of our band it’s not because of some marketing scheme or some sweet commercial. My goal is just to keep it natural, to keep it real, and to keep it genuine.

Read part two of this interview with William Beckett in next week’s issue.

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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