William Beckett Live In Studio

 

Before The Academy Is… and Warped Tour fame, William Beckett played local shows in his hometown of Chicago under the name Remember Maine. It was just him and his guitar, back in the day, until The Academy Is… released their debut, “Almost Here,” one of the best pop-punk albums in a decade full of them. I remember seeing The Academy Is… about five years ago. Beckett had long hair and very tight jeans, and a sort of manic electro-shock energy as he screamed lines like “So suck your so-called pity down,” twitching his way across the stage and leaning into the crowd.

Two more The Academy Is… albums, a child, and a band breakup later, it was a very different William Beckett who showed up at the WERS studio: polite and quiet, with just an acoustic guitar as backup. He recently released his solo debut Walk The Talk and it was a surprise for anyone familiar with his previous work, full of synth beats and pop hooks. The lead single, “Compromising Me”, is a confident and catchy kiss-off to his previous life.

But the all-acoustic tour, he says, is “like a full-circle thing for me,” a return to the days of Remember Maine and the very beginning of his career. When asked about the decision to tour completely solo, he said, “It’s the connection, the human interaction that I love about performing and showing a side of myself that perhaps some people haven’t seen… An acoustic show– that’s intimate and more of a conversational environment– it kind of gives people a glimpse of who I am beyond the Moves Like Jagger guy that I was with the band.”

He started his set with “Girl, You Shoulda Been A Drummer,” a slinky number about a girl with “perfect rhythm,” with lyrics like “You played me so hard, so fast, just like heavy metal thunder.” The recorded version is upbeat with a lot of bass and heavily produced, but the live acoustic version makes it clear that his preferred style has changed very little since Remember Maine. The focus stayed on his strong vocals and simple strummed melody. He said that this is how he begins all recordings: “Usually I’ll start on acoustic and have a demo for months just acoustic. Sometimes I just fall in love with the stripped-down version of it.” But the process for this album was very different in that it took less time to focus. “I was able to realize where I wanted to take it in just one or two sessions. I was following my instincts a lot.”

He followed with “Oh Love” and “You Never Give Up,” both more traditional ballads (at least in their acoustic form) that demonstrate his signature lyrical style, straightforward and confessional with a tendency toward the melodramatic (like “When my words fail, you are poetry”).

Walk The Talk is the first of four EPs planned to come out within the next year, with the next slated to release in July. He described it as “the beginning of the story” about the fun and care-free start of a relationship and “about being myself and being self-confident for the first time in a while.” The next releases will chronicle the rest of the story and what happens when the work of a relationship sets in and things get tough. Keep an eye out; based on everything we’ve seen from William Beckett so far, this will be an interesting story.

By Ella Zander

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