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Thursday, May 13th
The Hot Sweat
Hana Pestle
It's been an eventful couple of months for The Academy Is. The Chicago natives released their third debut album, Fast Times At Barrington High, this summerand are now concluding a national headlining tour with We The Kings. During the New Jersey date of Bill & Trav's Bogus Tour, we sat with bassist Adam Siska to chat about the new album.

Cristina: Fast Times At Barrington High came out this Summer
Adam: Yeah, Fast times is out. It feels pretty good. It’s definitely exciting for us. The fast couple of months have gone by pretty fast. It’s been a blast. The new songs, I think, have gone over really well with the crowd. We’re having a ton of fun playing them live.

CC: There was a lot of criticism surrounding it at the time of the release...
AS: Well, they’re going to do that every time. Anytime that we’re going to put out a new record there are going to be people that think it’s the worst. And then there’s people who love it right away. I think our goal is to make the best record possible. I think that in the end, some people will move on to their next flavor of the week band or whatever they think is “in.” But we’ll still be here, and we’ll continue to make records. Also we do it for ourselves mainly, not for anyone else.  The only other people besides ourselves, are the people who get excited about our songs.

CC: Some of your fans were being kind of skeptical about it, saying their favorite band “went all mainstream”
AS: Is it even mainstream? People get mad giving it the mainstream label before they even get a chance to love it. I think every record we’ve made has been as mainstream as this one. We’re not some chart topping band; I’m not flying out to hang out with Lil’ Wayne this weekend. We’re happy to be where we are now. People can call it whatever they want to call it, but we don’t care. The songs will be the same. What was in Almost Here, was probably our most mainstream record. It was our most famous record. Does that make it mainstream? I don’t know.

CC: How do you feel The Academy Is… has changed musically since Almost Here?
AS: I just think we’ve come a long way. In one way, we’ve become better musicians. I also think we’ve become a lot more production savvy. Now we know what we’re looking for when we go into the studio. We know what we want the record to sound like. We know all the little things that make recording fun. That gives us a lot of creative control, because we don’t have a producer behind us telling us what to do. During Almost Here, we had no idea what we wanted. I mean, we were kids. Now, we’re at the point where we’re calling all the shots – which is fun. I think we’ve been a band long enough now that we became the captain of our own ship.

CC: Do you feel Fast Times represents the type of sound you’ve been trying to achieve all along?
AS: Absolutely. The second record is always hard, because you have to top what you did on the first one. And that one was your first one, so you how no idea how you even did it. We’re really proud of everything we’ve made. Each one stands for a moment in time for our band. Each record represents where we were at the time. We have more many records to come, hopefully, and we’ll keep making them this way – so we’ll see. I read some interview with Bob Dylan where he says “whatever record you just put out will be the least favorite by the fans, and the record before that suddenly becomes the favorite.” When Santi came out, some people were going on about how much we changed, about how different it was and about how it wasn’t anything like Almost Here.  Now, all of the sudden, Santi has been getting all this praise  - which is still exciting for us. It’s funny, if anything. Now it turns out that Santi was just the same as Almost Here  and Fast Times is the odd one out. We’re just doing what we want to do. I think we’ve gotten to the point where we have a relationship with our diehard fans, that they’ll either like whatever we put out or they’ll just wait for the next record. You look at artists like Neil Young, or Bowie, or any longstanding career artist, and they have down points. Bowie had a streak of three records that sold nothing. But that’s the beauty of it, some records will catch on and others won’t – that’s just how it works. For instance, I was a huge fan of Smashing Pumpkins growing up, and when Adore, one of their latest records came out, everyone hated it. That will always go down as a bad time for the Pumpkins, but for me, I became a bigger fan because of it. So everyone sees what they want in each record.

CC: For me personally, I’ve been a fan of Almost Here and when Fast Times came out, I was a little skeptical. But after listening to the live versions of the songs, it just made me realize that you’re still the same band I know and love…
AS: We worked hard on the record, we didn’t sell our selves short in anyway, so I don’t know what else to say about it. Anytime we release something, it’ll be strange to your ears. But like you said, touring and playing these live help people get used to them.

CC: So let’s talk about Bill & Trav’s Bogus Tour.
AS: It’s been a blast. Everyone is really cool. We’ve really enjoyed it.

CC: Sadly, it’s almost over.
AS: Yeah, it’s weird to think about it ending and having time off. I think touring for us is like therapy. No matter what goes on, that night you’ll go onstage and play music. Nothing else matters at that point. So when you don’t do it, it feels weird. But we’re happy to focus on our personal lives for a change.

CC: Yeah, you guys have been busy. You did Warped, and the dove straight to this…
AS: Yeah, we’ve basically been straight on the road since 2003? I don’t really remember a time since then we’re I’ve been home for a  long period of time.

CC: Well, I think you’re a touring band. Live shows is where it’s at, for you, not just the CDs
AS: Exactly, that’s why the fans shouldn’t hate on us. We work pretty damn hard to come back and keep it fun. Even when we’re off the road, I’m walking down the street with Jack (The Camera Guy) filming episodes of TAI TV. That’s part of the fun, the band never really goes off.

CC: So what’s The Academy Is… doing after this tour?
AS: We’re going out with Fall Out Boy for like 10 days – December 4th to 14th. It’s just a bunch of Christmas shows. We’re really looking forward to it; we love those guys. We grew up with them – or they were already grown up by the time they met me. But I grew up with them. So it’s fun to watch them play and reminisce on the good ol’ days. Then after that, we just have some tours in the works that we’re trying to figure out.

Kim KaminskeCristina Carrazza is the assistant regional head for the Midwest for Musiqtone.com. You can reach her at cristinacarrazza@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Jack's Mannequin and Musiqtone.
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