“It’s kind of like Hakuna Matata,” Adam Siska says as I begin my interview with him on their chilly tour bus, on a Monday afternoon. It’s the most relaxed interview I’ve ever done, opening with what I’m sure has been the most asked question for the past few months. From what I’ve read, and from Siska’s own mouth, it’s clear that Santi was stressful, and really took it’s toll on the entire band, so by calling the album Santi it’s almost like a joke, keeping them grounded, and not taking everything so seriously.
If you’ve ever ventured to YouTube I’m sure you’ve caught at least on episode of TAITV. Somehow, among all the touring, and photo shoots, interviews, etc. the boys of The Academy Is… manage to put up a webisode every week just to fill the fans in. I guess the best deterrent for rumors is showing quite a bit of yourself to the world, but sometimes “a lot of your personal life is exposed. It comes with the territory though…” The funny thing is, with all of the content you can find on the band, the fans still demand more. Do a photo search on Buzznet & Flikr and the amount of TAI photos & videos is astounding, from press shots, to candid (creepy) shots (“you’re walking around on the phone and someone snaps a picture over the fence and the next day it’s online”) it’s hard to believe that they have any time to themselves, but Siska says “you can’t complain, we’re blessed…”
There’s such a sense of despair in Adam’s voice as he discusses the hardest part of the transition from Almost Here to Santi. “The hardest part is… to come home. When you’re on tour for almost two years, at that point your personal life just seems to get worse until it pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It’s pretty scary because basically all we had to do was worry about playing a show for the past couple of years, and suddenly you have start worrying about family, friends, bandmates. You start to feel like a human again. I think we did what we had to do…”
Playing that part back on my tape recorder is kind of hard to take, it’s something that bands don’t talk about too often, or maybe just not in such a candid way, but it hits hard, to anyone who’s ever missed someone, or was unsure about a decision.
“We’re already writing again,” when I question the gap between the first and second album. “On this record we really went back the basics. Then to come off tour and sit in the suburbs of Chicago , and realize that, it’s just us, ya know? Which is a good feeling. We got back to our grass roots.”
“If the song calls for Travis from Gym Class Heroes to do something then that’ll happen. We’ve got a lot of great friends, we’d never write off experimenting with them.” Although The Academy Is… is the type of band that can definitely hold it’s own, a collaboration with one of their friends would be pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, and something I hope will happen soon.
Just in case you don’t know who The Academy Is… calls friends, look no further than this year’s Honda Civic tour, with fellow Chicagoans, Fall Out Boy, and the eclectic Cobra Starship. “It’s cool that we still get to go on tour with [Fall Out Boy] . It’s crazy to be part of it.” As for Cobra Starship, “we hang out literally everyday. The bus door is always open...They’re making the days much more fun. Usually on our days off we like to decompress. Live a real life for a day.”
“Where do you draw the line between friendship and business?” Adam says as we discuss who they decide to bring on tour. If you ever picked up a copy of Almost Here on the track “Down & Out” you’ll here a shoutout, “We won’t forget Tony or Johnny. No matter how they miss us they still wish us the best on the road.” Tony & Johnny had a record label, called LLR Records, back in Chicago that signed TAI before they signed to the legendary, Fueled By Ramen. “We just find it works the best when someone actually believes in what they’re doing.”
“ I think Chicago is a special place. It just represents the mid-west. It’s typical middle America. Us & Fall Out Boy played a VFW hall with 300 kids, at the time it felt like the biggest deal in the world. It was a big deal when it started, and it’s still a big deal. We want to grow as a band and take the band as far as it can go. As far as fame, we’re just trying to play music, and people who appreciate it, we respect. If it ever becomes more than that, then that’s cool too.”
In comes Mr. Beckett, after picking up a copy of the magazine I left on the couch without saying a word, he chimes in about their EP when they were known as The Academy, “I love it lyrically. I was a bad singer, at that time. I was really proud conceptually on what we were tying to do, but we had no real overall focus.”
“Oh by the way, William,” I say, “the review of Santi is in that issue.” “Oh really? What’d we get?” “3.5” “Did you write it?” “No… I would have given it a 4” “It’s okay, I don’t read reviews anymore.”
This interview is probably the most genuine interview I’ve ever done. The amount of sincerity from Siska is more than I’ve ever gotten from any other band. I got some serious insight into a band that most people only associate with candid pictures, and video clips. Being such a young band, you can hear the angst in Siska’s voice from experiences that you can’t really prepare yourself for, and probably shouldn’t have to for quite a bit longer. They had to grow up fast and it made for some hard times, but I truly believe it has just made them stronger.
Oh & as for the “Is…” like all the great name changes, it was over an almost lawsuit. [CO]