Apr 14, 2013

William Beckett and TAI - truly great pop

Ok, don't call me out yet.  Yes, The Academy Is... did get a little radio time back in '06-'07.  But come on...admit it, some of the best tracks, especially from Santi were only known to us fans or those we dragged to shows.  See...I'm right.  Alright, TAI did have some clunkers too..Fast Times At Barrington High was rather self-indulgent and was not the highest note this otherwise truly great pop band should have gone out on.  Let's just remember the good songs that William Beckett and Mike Cardin penned.

My sympathies to anyone who never got to see TAI live.  William is a great frontman and had a fantastic band behind him.  The Butcher killed a kit and Sisky Business on bass was not only a good musician but great comic relief.  Carden took his guitar job seriously but with a wink and a nod.  Even with different rhythms the chemistry always worked.  These guys could bring it whether in the blistering heat of an afternoon Warped Tour set or headlining a show in a 2000 body venue with light show and staging.  They always left us wanting more.

Then it all came to an end.  William went back to Chicago and mulled over his next move.  Try as he might he couldn't stop writing or singing.  But this guy was determined to do whatever "it" was going to be on his terms.  No selling out to labels who would demand he do music handed to him or even doing his own music within their perimeters.  So he started creating, on his own.  He was able to get studio time to engineer recordings that are full, rich with all the necessary instrumentation and effects.  He also had a plan.  Release the project as three EPs, each one a different chapter of a love story.  The sales of each would fund the creation of the next and hopefully generate money for touring.

Touring, that posed another problem.  There was no band.  There was one William Beckett, a MacBook Pro and an acoustic guitar.  This incredibly intelligent and talented artist figured it out.  Some songs are done straight up acoustic and others use backing tracks...and it works.

I had a bit of a wish come true when I actually met Mr. Beckett last year but it was better than my wish because I got to sit down and interview him for over a half hour.  William Beckett is indeed a quiet person off stage.  He watches and listens.  He is a walking encyclopedia of music of the second-half of the 20th Century.  He was the "smart kid" in high school and was determined to head east after graduation.  Beckett still has a number of Jersey artists in his list favorites.  He takes a little bit to warm up to strangers but if you find a topic he's passionate about he'll talk, sharing knowledge, facts and feelings.  The one question I never did get to ask him though, because I didn't notice it till we were wrapping the interview, is the meaning behind his ampersand tattoo.  However, it's easy to see that with William Beckett it's always "and" never an "or" or a "but".

After the interview I got to hear all of the first EP of the trilogy along with a couple of tracks from the second which had not been released at that point.  Especially after hearing it live and even now, my favorite song is still "Girl, You Shoulda Been A Drummer".   He also treated us to some of TAI's greatest hits.  Although a little subdued and matured, he still has very magnetic stage presence...still a great pop artist.  If you are going to Warped Tour this year make a point to catch his set on the Acoustic Basement stage all summer.   It will definitely be worth it.   Add William Beckett to your Spotify, Pandora and LastFM lists and but his EP's on iTunes.

p.s. I think my current Spotify choice will be next week's feature-Cobra Starship!