Features > On the Horizon > The Academy Is...
The Academy Is...


Official Site



   “We want to move people… to impact in them the same way we’ve been affected through music.”

   The Academy Is…almost never was. Frontman William Beckett and guitarist Mike Carden grew up as rivals, in separate bands on the Chicago local music scene. William eventually left his band, wanting to take music more seriously and looking for someone who shared his passion. Mike’s band broke up also and the two gradually found themselves talking more and more; engulfed in amazing conversations about music. After realizing they were very much alike, they decided to try their hand at writing songs together and The Academy Is…was born.

   William and Mike share a love of the classics - Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, U2. These elements, along with eclectic alternative influences like Weezer and Death Cab For Cutie provide the foundation for Almost Here, the debut release from The Academy Is… Produced by James Paul Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever, Underoath), Almost Here is a love letter to music itself; a smart, honest record about growing up, having dreams and making them come true.

   On Almost Here, The Academy Is…shoots from the hip and aims for the heart. “It’s an extreme, magnified reflection of who we are as individuals.” William explains, “Lyrically, I try to capture experiences we all have, and genuinely try to portray the ways we respond to them.” From the first notes of the naturally perfect opening track, “Attention” to the raw, explosive “Checkmarks” the album bursts with infectious energy. Each song is a perfect pop picture that is both self-portrait and mirror.

   Since William and Mike first came together in 2002, The Academy Is…have paved their way with lightening speed. After adding Adam Siska on bass and a second guitarist and drummer, the full band headed into the studio and recorded an EP for Chicago label LLR Records. Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy heard it and was so impressed that he convinced his label, Fueled By Ramen, to fly out and see them. Fueled By Ramen immediately signed the young band and put them to work recording their full-length debut.

   Mike and William holed up in a remote apartment in a suburb of Chicago, writing, collaborating and discovering who they were as musicians. They wrote the record essentially about the record; about being isolated, broke and exhausted but utterly exhilarated at the same time. “I’ll sing you something you won’t forget” William challenges on “Season,” a song about having one chance to make it and really wanting to move people with music. These themes run throughout the ten tracks on Almost Here, as does the desire to break down stereotypes and be heard as themselves. “Almost Here is a great snapshot of where our lives are right now,” William says, “We really wanted to speak to people and tell our story the right way.”

   After six months Mike and William headed to Florida to record the appropriately titled Almost Here. “We aren’t quite ‘here’ yet,” William explains, “We are too young to be content and to have everything figured out. It’s all about pushing each other and each other’s boundaries. There is always more to accomplish.”

   In 2004 the band underwent a lineup change, finally securing Tom Conrad as second guitar/backing vocalist and Andy Mrotek on drums. They hit the road hard, touring with Fall Out Boy, Something Corporate, Midtown, Matchbook Romance, Motion City Soundtrack and Armor For Sleep. They perfected their live shows, with William coming into his own as a confident and charismatic frontman.