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The Academy Is

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Breaking the Fever: The Academy Is… looks to redefine sound after national tour

By Danny Lauridsen

BOSTON - "It's a marriage of all things tangible and intangible," The Academy Is… lead singer William Beckett said of life in a touring band. "We have so much left. We have so much more to say. If this was baseball, this would be the bottom of the second inning," he said.

The score?

"I think it's a close one. I'd say like 3-2."

The Fueled By Ramen indie sensation brought it all to a sold-out crowd last Saturday, February 4 at the Avalon, the fourth show on their nationwide "Truckstops and Satellites Tour," which features label mates Panic! At the Disco, Sony alternative outfit Acceptance, and Drive Thru pop project Hellogoodbye.

"That show toinight - that was incredible," Beckett said after giving an energetic crowd more than its money's worth Saturday night. "It's yet another example of how we've built our band up to this point. To move that many people on that level is spectacular."

He added, "This is the best lineup of the year. I'll lay it down and say that."

From the first note it was clear the audience knew who the academy is… and they definitely had the fever. But Beckett said the band is nowhere near where they'd like to be musically.

"We need to keep on improving. We have so much left. We have so much more to give and so much more to say and so much more to expand," he said.

And a little expansion might be just what they need. Beckett said the band hasn't defined itself musically, but it has already fallen into an overcrowded pop/emo genre, overshadowed by the outplayed sounds of bands like fellow Chicagoans Fall Out Boy, among others.

Beckett said he's always looking to open his mind and his musical horizons. He described life in a dark room with a chain connecting to an overhead light.

"Every morning that I wake up I try to remember to pull the chain, and turn on the light," he said.

In a congested scene, a little variety goes a long way, and Beckett stressed the band's desire to put out a new record with a new sound to follow up their debut 2005 release, "Almost Here" and "From the Carpet," their new acoustic six-song EP set to hit the iTunes store on Feb. 21.

"You can really transcend a lot of the boundaries that are set up for you by your fist record. It pretty much opens us up to do anything we want on this next record," he said.

Beckett wants to expose every side of The Academy Is… on a single quintessential album. The band's influences are as varied as they come, Beckett said.

"We're really influenced by classic rock, but at the same time we love bands like Thrird Eye Blind and the Foo Fighters," he said, adding Queens of the Stone Age and the Strokes among others.

"We want a lot," he said. "We want a very diverse record. A record like 'Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness.'"

Beckett said he wants everything from metal to dance to straight rock to ballads all wrapped into one album, because unexpected musical diversity is what the greatest records all have in common.

"They take you on a journey," he said. "It's an emotional and dynamic journey."

Journey does not mean concept album, though.

"Every great record is conceptual in its focus," Beckett said. "And if it seems unfocused, that's the focus. We're not doing Frances the Mute. We're going to do something that's our own concept. Writing songs that we love… if that's conceptual."

The Academy Is… showed their willingness to experiment on stage as well, winning over a crowd that was theirs from the start with a few acoustic sets and a song featuring Panic! At the Disco lead singer and guitar player Ryan Ross.

Beckett said he's never had as much fun on tour with a band as he has with this tour and Panic! At the Disco.

"They're great. They're great guys and they've got their heads on straight."

As for The Academy Is…, Beckett said they just have to keep focusing on making better music, because writing good songs is all that really matters.

"We're not the best musicians, but we all believe in each other," he said. "We believe in each other so much, that these songs can become the best songs ever written."

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