Less = More

Brittany Moseley

The Academy Is.. takes a simple approach with latest tour, album

Photo courtesy of Fueled by Ramen

Credit: DKS Editors

The Academy Is. isn’t OK with playing it safe.

Their innovative debut album “Almost Here” made this Chicago group a band to watch. Then, they changed directions and released “Santi,” which forced the band out of its indie confines, allowing the members – lead singer William Beckett, bassist Adam Siska, guitarist Michael Guy Chislett, drummer Andrew “The Butcher” Mrotek and guitarist Mike Carden – to channel their inner rock stars. It was a risky move for a band that could have taken the easy road and continued to release catchy indie rock songs.

Real Quick:

What: The Academy Is… with Empires & Evan Taubenfold

Where: Musica, 51 E. Market St., Akron

When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 3


The Academy Is.’s latest album “Fast Times at Barrington High” is another example of the band’s penchant for risk-taking. While most bands like to throw around words like “mature” and “grown up,” whenever they release a new album, The Academy Is. did the opposite and made an album that’s young at its core.

“Fast Times at Barrington High” is a nostalgic record full of stripped-down, energetic pop songs. It’s the kind of record that would be the perfect soundtrack for an intimate acoustic tour, which is exactly what The Academy Is. decided to do.

The Snakes and Suits Tour started March 30 and will stop in nine cities. It’s the band’s first acoustic tour.

“We’ve been touring pretty hard for a long time, and we didn’t want to in any way get redundant. We didn’t want anyone to have to come back and see the same show that they’ve already seen,” Siska said. “This tour is a way to do something different and to show that we’re a versatile band, and we can try different things.”

Although the band’s toured the world and played sold-out shows, Siska said he loves acoustic, grassroots shows.

“To me it’s the most romantic way of playing a show, where you’re passing the hat around, people are giving donations and you’re playing songs that you wrote, that other people wrote,” he said. “It’s very laid back and we wanted to try to recreate that with a tour where it’s bands playing acoustic, and there’s a different cover song every night, and the set list is never the same.”

Subdued and simplistic seems to be The Academy Is.’s current mantra, and it’s reflected in “Fast Times at Barrington High.” Gone are the overwhelming guitar parts and the stretched vocals that flooded “Santi.” The Academy Is. has gone back to basics.

“I think what makes good musicians and great songwriters is knowing when to be tasteful and knowing that sometimes less is more,” Siska said.

“Fast Times at Barrington High” may be a youthful record, but the musicianship is anything but childish. The record plays like a yearbook and is full of glossy anthems that flow together.

The opener, “About A Girl,” channels high school puppy love, but sounds defiant instead of trite. “Summer Hair = Forever Young” is a wistful seasonal song that makes you yearn for the summer vacations you wasted away as a kid. Each song is tweaked enough to stand out.

“I think on this record we made a conscious decision to let the music be very complimentary thing to the melody as opposed to having the music clutter up everything,” Siska said. “I think that’s just something we’re getting better at with age. I think our taste has grown a little bit. I think our judgment has grown in a sense that we’re definitely not playing for our personal ego anymore. I think we’re playing for the betterment of the song.”

Whatever The Academy Is. decides to do next, it’s safe to say the band won’t shy away from challenges. But don’t expect the guys to force the creativity. If this album has taught the band anything, it’s to let things happen naturally.

“We’re just trying to do the best we can and trying to work on the best songs and be the best band we can be,” Siska said. “We definitely don’t sit around making a conscious effort saying, ‘We really need to progress.’ We just play whatever comes out. I think we know in our hearts whether it feels right or not.”

Contact all correspondent Brittany Moseley at [email protected].