William Beckett, ‘I guess it’s my emo boy nature’

Courtesy of Ryan Russell
Courtesy of Ryan Russell

William Beckett – the former frontman of The Academy Is… – has been a near constant source of new music since the band parted ways in 2011. His debut EP Walk The Talk was released in April 2012, followed closely by an album, Genuine & Counterfeit, in August 2013. Beckett has also embarked on tours across Europe, Japan, and the US, and had only just arrived in the UK to support Hidden In Plain View when he spoke to FDRMX in London. 

The Life In Dreaming anniversary tour marks Beckett’s third solo visit to the UK, having been in the country last year with The Summer Set and performing at Slam Dunk in 2013. “I would honestly like to come back even more often,” Beckett spoke about the UK. “With the band we have some amazing memories here, and definitely have some amazing fans that frankly I missed playing for. A big part of that [touring] was making it a priority to come back and tour but not just in the States and not just in Japan. I want to create something unique here in Britain.”

Alongside touring, Beckett also offers much more intimate house shows. “I don’t really feel the pressure anymore,” Beckett expressed about his shows. “It’s a different show in someone’s living room than it is in a club, but at the same time it’s still me. I want it to be a genuine experience either way because that’s why I do the small shows too: I’m not tethered to the forty minutes on stage where I can go off on tangents, play some songs that I haven’t played in a long time, and just have fun with it!”

It’s clear from both shows and social media that Beckett has a very close relationship with his fans. He hosts a weekly online film viewing event, Films on Friday, and offers fans the chance to purchase personalised songs through Downwrite. These tracks are written specifically for the fan who requested it, and often concern difficult, sensitive topics. “The most challenging ones for me are the ones that aren’t serious,” Beckett explains. “I’ve done a couple of songs that are supposed to be like fun party songs, for friends that are singing along in the car. But I guess writing sad songs always has come easier to me. I guess it’s my emo boy nature.”

“In some ways it’s almost a bit easier,” Beckett explained about Downwrite, “because there are experiences to pull from that are right there. When it’s completely personal, it’s a little bit more of a challenge to capture it. But at the same time, for all the Downwrite songs I’ve done, I try and put myself into it, because let’s be honest, most problems people face – even the very specific ones – we all face those on some level. I can relate to a lot of the stories and a lot of the experiences.”

Since beginning his solo career, Beckett has performed mostly acoustically, often using pre-recorded tracks on his laptop as backing. “I did a solo tour in Japan with a live band that was so fun, it was amazing,” he explained. “I do them in Chicago from time to time, but a lot of times when there’s a request to have me on tour, or a band calls me to go on tour with them, it makes more sense logistically to just jump along with it. Even in this case with Hidden In Plain View when we’re all travelling together.”

Going solo following a successful career is a momental task, but it comes with one huge perk: complete creative control. “I have been able to explore some of the influences that maybe I couldn’t have if it was with my band. If it was with the band, stuff that’s more eighties-driven or even a song like ‘Girl, You Shoulda Been A Drummer’ probably would never have happened.”

We also asked the musician about his future plans: “Just know that I’m working on my next chapter. At this point it’s just a lot of writing, and writing, and trying to find the right thing that I feel is going to make an impact.”

Finally, we asked Beckett about something he clearly feels passionately for: Game Of Thrones. So, which of the houses does he most relate to? “This is a very interesting question because I think that the houses themselves are made up of characters that are very different from each other. I can’t relate to the Lannisters because I’m not for a filthy rich family so I can’t really relate to that. I would say Stark or Tyrell. Stark because of family and loyalty; I’m very close with my family, and I’m from the North! Tyrell, I think, is based more on the cunning aspect of planning and preparation, and just being prepared for anything to happen!”

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