Interview with The Academy Is…’s Adam Siska

26 08 2010

I have actually interviewed the guy before, but as The Academy Is… rolled through Washington, DC, with KISS of all bands, I had the chance to talk to Adam Siska, bassist of the group, for a while. Like before he was extremely cool and gave some real insight into this crazy tour The Academy Is… is currently on. Full interview after the jump.

Adam? How are you doing today?

I’m good just up here in Syracuse.

So I’ll jump to the big topic, which is, obviously, you’ll be coming through [Jiffy Lube Live] on the 21st with KISS. Now I have to ask, as part of the AP.net fanbase, how did this get set up?

We get asked that a lot and I wish I had some sort of cool answer because I really don’t know. We weren’t planning on going on tour, and we got a phone call that said ‘Do you guys want to go on a tour with KISS for two months?’ We didn’t really have to think too long about that one. It just kind of sounded like quite the experience. As far as I know, Gene [Simmons] has been exposed to bands by his son or daughter, and liked what he heard, and wanted to bring on a younger band, and bring some crossover between generations.
And it’s been a long time since we’ve toured with a band, well, I don’t think we’ve ever been on a tour with a band where 99% of the crowd has never heard our band’s name before. And we just thought this is something we’ve always wanted to do, which is go out and play in front of a big crowd full of people who have no idea who we are, where we’re from, what we’ve done in the past, anything like that. It’s kind of like a clean slate. Just showing people what we do, and I’ve really been surprised by the amount of people we’ve been able to win over that you normally wouldn’t see at our shows, you know? You know, people always say our band is only teenage girls listening to us, but there are now these men who look like Stone Cold Steve Austen rocking out in the crowd on this tour, and I’ve felt really good about that.

So the reaction has been pretty good from the people dressed up like Gene Simmons? They’re getting into it, you’re getting some compliments?

It’s one of the craziest experiences to be onstage playing and seeing someone rocking out to your songs who is completely dressed up like, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Role Models but like the little kid when he’s dressed like Gene Simmons – but people dressed up as KISS rocking out to your music is one of the most gratifying experiences we’ve ever had as a band.

We’ll move away from KISS, and on to you guys. You scheduled some shows in between the KISS shows at very small venues, is that something you did deliberately?

Definitely. We just thought that in the off-shows we’d go into places we normally don’t. Just last week we played in Vermont for the first time, we played in Portland, Maine, we played in Northampton, Massachusetts the other night, then Syracuse tonight. We’re playing in Arkansas for the first time, Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s the kind of off the cusp places, you know, it’s not like we’re playing New York City on the off-shows, we trying to go to places that really don’t get that many shows, and it feels really intimate. I mean, I don’t think we can sell more than a few hundred tickets in Little Rock, Arkansas, so we don’t want to try to. We just want to make sure that whoever wants to come can get in, and after spending some time with us, hopefully becomes a fan for life.

Now about the new album. I saw [vocalist] William [Beckett] had tweeted around July that he was writing, so how far along are you guys?

We’re either 95% done, or 5% done, if that makes any sense to you. We’ve got a lot of songs, a lot of material under our belts right now. We’ve been writing for a while, and we want to have a lot of options, we want to have a lot of different vibes. We really want this [record] to be the one we’re remembered for. You should feel that way going into making every record, you should want it to be your best. But we’re taking time to generate the best songs possible, and so it could come out at the end of this year or it could come out at the end of next year, we’re really in no hurry. We just want this album’s process to take its natural course, and we’ll make the best record we possibly can, and we know our real fans will stick around and wait it out.

Now I am a bit intrigued by this 95 or 5% thing. Does that mean you have a lot of songs that are pretty much formulated and you just want to write more? Or do you want to tune those ones up, or a little bit of both?

Yea, I’m just hanging right now. I feel like we could almost come out and release these demos we have as a record and they sound really good; they feel done. That being said, we know that if we write for another year, it’s just going to get better, so we feel like we might as well keep going, and by the end of that time we’ll have an excellent record.

And are you getting time on this tour to play around with things and work on this record, even though there’s so much going on?

There’s a lot of down time. It’s really nice because, well on most tours, I’m sure you know it works, bands sound check every day; you know you have that 30 or 40 minutes of sound check every day and you have all these things to do. But on this tour we sound-checked on the first day, and there’s a digital board that saved all of our settings, so we don’t soundcheck. Our day literally starts at 7:50 when we walk on stage. So everything up until then is very relaxed, watching movies, eat the very nice catering that they provide us with on the tour, which definitely makes us happy, things like that. The rest of the time a couple of us will be in the back working on a song, couple of us will be outside, or watching a movie or reading a book. There’s a lot of downtime on this tour, which is really nice for creativity. You can pile it on if you have too much happening at once.

Is that practice of only soundchecking once something they do on big tours?

I think it would be in this day and age with the way these consoles work out you can just store the settings. You can just work with that. That being said, our crew goes out and does mic check and stuff to make sure that it’s still functioning by showtime, so they have a little bit of time to make sure everything works. So far it been good. I mean, one day we’ll probably walk out there and my bass will be completely fried out or something [laughs], but with the efficient crew and some hardworking people, they help our operation run smoothly.
Like I said, there’s more downtime to enjoy yourself during the day. You don’t have to worry about wandering off, or going off on little hikes because some of these venues are near the woods. It’s good to have piece of mind on this tour considering that around 9 o’clock KISS comes on there’s explosions and fireworks and rock ‘n’ roll madness [laughs].

Well back to the upcoming record, are you still going to be putting it out through Decaydence or Fueled By Ramen? Or will it just be an Atlantic thing or do you know at all yet?

We don’t really know yet. It looks like things will stay like its always been, but obviously there could be complications along the way. We know what we want to accomplish with our sound, and we hope that wouldn’t change. But we do know that we’re not going to sacrifice what we want to do musically for what everyone else outside the defined line of the band has envisioned for us. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be on Fueled By Ramen, Atlantic, Decaydance, all of those… five different labels [laughs]. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be because they’ve been in support of us the entire time we’ve been a band. Things do change, bands change labels, but I don’t think it’s in the cards for us right now. We’re our own band, we don’t need anyone to tell us what to do. We’ve played that game before, where you listen to the label and have mixed feelings about the results, so we just want to make it about the way we feel towards our music, and exactly what we want the record to be, and I feel like people will come around and support that.

Do you feel any extra pressure, be it from the label or internally, after cracking the top 20 on Billboard? Is there any extra pressure now or more of an incentive, or is it just icing on the cake?

It’s easy to point to that stuff and turn it into pressure. It’s easy to say ‘Oh we did this last time, so we need to top that, or we need to make the label happy,’ all those kind of things. Or, you know, Rolling Stone put our last record in the best 50 of the year or whatever. It’s easy to point to those things and stress yourself out, but at the end of the day we know that with everything you can stress about the music, but we feel like if we work hard at the music, anything could happen. We’ve never written off the idea of winning a Grammy, you know? I don’t know if that will ever happen, but we’re going to work hard and try to write the best music possible. I always think the music speaks for itself, and you never really know when something is going to impact the world in a certain way. I think we feel as a band that we have something special between us, and it’s only a matter of time until the world will figure that out, and see the band for what we think it is.

That’s about it, but I do have to ask: Have there been any crazy rock star moments just hanging out backstage yet? Like is Gene Simmons demanding only brown M&M’s or anything like that? Basically, has there been a ‘holy crap did that just happen in front of me?’ moment yet?

The whole thing is kind of like that [laughs].
I think that the KISS guys seem pretty humble and pretty professional at this point, for how long they’ve been doing it. I don’t think they’re picky or asking for the M&M’s or the caged tiger or some of these stories you’ve heard about other bands. Yeah, I haven’t really encountered any of that, but to me the whole thing is just crazy looking at twenty semi’s with pictures of their faces on it. The craziest thing I’ve seen is them walking around with no makeup on in the back. Just seeing what the guys really look like is mind-blowing, and just encountering Gene Simmons walking down the hall is enough to make you sweat, you know? We’ve found him to be not very intimidating, a very nice, kind-hearted person, so that’s pretty cool. And I’m actually really surprised with how laid-back the tour is. I figured that being KISS, they would have pretty tight security, but it’s been laid back. They let us bring out families and friends back, and throw them a towel. They’ve been laid back and let them have some of the food. The whole crew and just everyone has been super nice to us.

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