What is your favorite part of being on FBR? Other than being labelmates with those hunks The Swellers... (That's us... Answer this VERY carefully)
It was a truly clairvoyant experience. Seven years ago I made a premeditated decision to sign to FBR for the sole reason that one day, years from that point in time a band called The Swellers would be sharing a roster spot. That is my favorite part of being on FBR. My SECOND favorite part is that while this label, like all successful labels, is a business, it feels and functions more like a family. A family business, like Papa Johns… or The Kardashians.
Are you a dog or cat guy? Are you both? If so, you're lying. Pick a side. Explain why.
I used to say dogs all the way. I don't have many friends so its only natural that I gravitate towards man's true BFF. However recently we got a family kitten and I am smitten.
What was your history before signing to Fueled By Ramen and with Johnny Minardi? Some people aren't familiar with the early stories and previous name of the band. What were you called before? Metallica 2 or something?
Johnny Minardi is one of a kind. He was one of the only people that believed in me as a songwriter and performer from the very beginning. In high school I started writing and playing songs on my acoustic. I had recorded a few songs and was playing a few shows in friends' basements when Johnny caught wind of me (Not that kind of wind). I was performing under the name Remember Maine back then, and I had about an album's worth of material that I played for Johnny. Back then Johnny, Tony and our old friend Sean Van Vleet (currently the singer of the band Empires) had a little indie label called Little League Records. It was a dream to get signed to LLR for me then, and when Johnny called me up to have a meeting I jumped for joy; which is saying a lot, being a sad emo kid and all. A week later I was making a record for Little League Records and the rest is another story altogether….
Are there any artists who influenced you to get started and has your taste changed over time?
While my taste has changed quite a bit over the years, there are a handful of bands and artists that remain an inspiration for me today. The Cure, Led Zeppelin, and Elliott Smith are mainstays in my daily music dosage. I was also deeply influenced by the underground pop-punk/indie-rock/emo-call-it-what-you-will movement that was alive and well 8 years ago. Dashboard Confessional, Alkaline Trio, The Promise Ring, The Get-Up Kids… Mostly anything that was on Vagrant Records, Drive-Thru, Asian Man Records or FBR I was a fan of. I learned a lot about self-sufficiency and the importance of DIY promotion and touring from these roots 'o mine.
Does growing up in the Chicago area effect your musical taste? Where were your favorite places to play growing up?
Growing up in the midwest has its artistic advantages if you allow the environment to shape your perspective. There is something about the creation process and having seasons that yields something unique and dynamic. The spectrum of emotion and the environment you live is synonymous. I appreciate the hell out of our summers here mostly because I know how frigidly miserable our winters are. "You have to embrace the dark before you see the light!" (said in cheesy, nasally Shakespearian voice).
So you've been on a lot of tours, starting with you and a guitar to... touring with KISS?! How did that happen? How was it? Did you get to touch Gene Simmons or his tongue?
When I received the email with the KISS tour offer I thought I was getting Punk'd. Then I remembered I'm not big enough to get Punk'd, so then I simply thought, "double-you-tee-eff?" Turns out Gene's kids are fans of the band and tipped him off on TAI. We were set to start writing for the 4th record and get going on the studio side of things at that point, but honestly, how do you turn down KISS? Answer: You don't. The tour was OUTRAGEOUS in every sense of the word. The band and crew were all really nice and professional which was great to see. One day in catering Adam and I were eating lunch and Gene walks in. No makeup, but still pretty intimidating. He was patrolling the scene, clearly in search of something he wasn't finding, then he says "Where are my cookies? Where are my sweets? You know I need my sweets." Adam and I couldn't believe it. Later that day, Adam was in the hallway backstage and felt something cold on his shoulder and sensed a large, looming presence behind him. He turns around and low and behold, there stood a 7 foot tall Demon in full costume holding a Dr. Pepper. "Hello Mr. Simmons," said Sisky. "I was testin' ya… Ya didn't jump. That means you're not a pansy," was Gene's brilliant reply. Then he simply walked away.
We played together on one date of the AP Tour the week our last record Ups and Downsizing came out and it was a blast. We had some good talks about music after the show. Is there any music you dig that would shock your fans? Anything you would want to turn your fans on to?
Yes that was great show, I only wish we played more shows together on that tour (love the new record, bee tee dubbya). I think our fans pretty much know my guilty pleasures at this point in our careers, but I can divulge a few more. First of all, I usually don't like musicals, but I do, I prefer Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd and Grease. Seriously, I know all 3 by heart. Its a secret wish of mine to play Danny Zuko in a production of Grease one day.
What's your stance on social networking? Do you think it's more beneficial in the growth of a band or harmful? I'm on Twitter, Tumblr and pretty much anything you can get. What's your favorite outlet to reach your fans?
I love social media as a tool to connect to fans. I think any form of communication and expression can be abused, or it can be used in a positive way. Its all in the way you choose to use it. I am on Twitter but I really enjoy posting on my Tumblr blog more than any other form of social media. It lets people see what interests me and offers another look into my life and loves. I commonly respond to all comments left on my blog and its usually a good time conversing. Every Friday night I feature a film that is on Netflix instant stream that I love and have a movie party with fans that want to participate or are fortunate enough to have Netflix. God bless Mr. and Mrs. Netflix for creating such a wonderful place for me to hang out. I also feature a song I've been digging every Saturday night followed by similar comment sessions. The rest of the week is up for grabs and random as hell, but then again, so is most of what's going on in my brain.
With the separation of the band, do you see a change in music for William Beckett and do you feel you have anything to prove with the debut album?
I'll always cherish the time spent, paths cleared and music made with TAI. I am proud of what we accomplished and look back on it with a warm heart. That considered, I've never felt for liberated and limitless as I do now on my own. Based on the songs alone I know moving forward in my music was the best decision I could make. I can make any kind of record I want, no strings or anchors attached. From a lyrical standpoint, the songs are more dynamic and cover the full arc of relationships. That being said, next to, say, a gushing love song you'll hear a lyric teeming with pain, deceit, fear, etc. The debut is bold and empowered, and boy oh boy, I can't wait for the world to hear it.