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Interview : William Control
Whilst probably best known for his time in Post-Hardcore outfit AIDEN, Will Francis’ project WILLIAM CONTROL may be a surprise to the ears of many.
There’s very clearly influences from successful 80s alt bands, some Joy Division, early New Order, early Depeche Mode and the new album, ‘Silentium Amoris’, is a good way to expose younger alt-rock-fans to darkwave.
It’s Tuesday night in Newcastle, 48 hours previously William Control played their debut performance at Download and they are slap bang in the middle of a European tour. Not bad for a band with no record deal…
Kevin Morris spoke to Will on behalf of Dominion Magazine.
William Control: It’s been a long week
Dominion: Yeah, yeah it’s been a long few days, especially for you! Did you survive the floods at Download?
WC: I wasn’t actually at Download during the flood; I got there on Sunday afternoon so I missed it all, which is pretty fucking sweet for me!
D: You were headlining the second or third stage?
WC: Yeah, third stage I think, Red Bull, whatever the Red Bull stage is.
Even though it’s a metal festival more than a rock thing it was pretty fucking good, I was surprised by how many people were there given that we played during Black Sabbath and Rise Against.
D: Oooh Christ that is a bit of stiff competition!
WC: It was a difficult time slot, but a lot of people came to see us, which is cool.
D: The music of William Control is very different to what you’re known for, you’re obviously quite well known in the rock and metal scene how does your audience adapt to the change of music, given that your style with WC is one they wouldn’t normally be exposed to regularly?
WC: Well I mean there’s a slight cross over from the people who listen to Aiden to the people who listen to William Control. Some fans like my song writing, but you know generally the kids who like Aiden are rock kids. They like Punk rock or Metal and Hardcore, so there’s really not a lot of cross over with William Control, but it’s quite difficult to get sort of a new audience on a project such as this without a record label, without getting any support tours so it’s been pretty difficult.
D: There’s that as well, with Aiden you probably play the main room here to quite a lot of people and now you’re in the upstairs room, is this kind of like a new challenge?
WC: Yes definitely, it’s very humbling too, it’s like starting over again but at the end of the day I’m just a prolific writer, I do a lot of, I not only write music but I write essays and short stories, poems.
D: It’s pretty well known that William Control came from things you were writing that didn’t really fit in with Aiden, have you written anything that doesn’t fit in with either?
WC: Yeah, totally, it’s weird, and I bet no-one with ever hear it.
D: As long as you don’t do any crazy dubsteppy stuff…
WC: Oh man, I’m not going to jump on that train…Which is a funny trend you know? But trends come and go I guess, so that’s what kids are into these days …Dubstep, but it isn’t even really dubstep.
D: It’s just strange the way the music world rotates.
WC: It’s a weird, weird business.
D: What do you think has been the biggest change in the music scene in the past few years?
WC: Ummm probably the shift from rock music, going from rock music to electronic stuff and pop shit, you know X Factor bullshit who’s that band right now?
D: One Direction?
WC: Yeah, they’re selling something like five nights at the O2 or something or Wembley or some shit. I dunno I mean people are fed a line of bullshit and they eat it up, it happens really every ten years . It happened when I was a kid with New Kids on the Block, it happened again about ten years later with The Backstreet Boys, now Justin Bieber and One Direction… so it seems as if every ten years people are fooled again into buying this fucking silly bullshit.
D: And in the five years in the middle is usually when everybody is buying rock records.
WC: People go right there like “fuck this, I won’t take your bullshit, let’s go out and buy a real record.”
D: A lot of your solo music seems to be influence by a lot of 80′s post punk and darkwave, there’s clearly Joy Division influences there – and not just in the JD cover – there’s a little bit of Bauhaus in there a hint of New Order and early Depeche Mode, is this kind of the stuff that you grew up with?
WC: I have a brother who’s twelve years older than me, so in the 80′s, you know I was born in ’82, so his adolescence was the mid to late 80′s and so his musical range was Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, New Order and 80′s Darkwave that he played all the time. It wasn’t until I discovered music on my own, bands like Nirvana and NOFX and Bad Religion, that was when I started playing music but as a child I can remember listening to stuff and when I turned around and started picking up these records again I realised how much I liked it you know? So all those influences are just because I love those bands.
D: The style you’re doing is quite a difficult style to sell, especially as you say you’re going completely out with no record label
WC: Yes, very difficult. We don’t expect to pick up many new fans!
D: Was this a conscious decision to go out without a record deal or was it just that there was no interest?
WC: It was absolutely my own decision, I’ve been on Victory records for the last, shit, almost ten years now and they’ve really fucking killed my spirit for comradery with the record label and I wanted to do something on my own and prove that I had the fans to be able to do a tour to be able to put out a record, and it was really successful on a scale that I was able to you know fund the album, go on tour and give people what they want, you know give people the creative package that they ordered. I’m not gaining new fans, I’m not being advertised anywhere it’s really just word of mouth, Twitter and Facebook.
D: It seems to be the way it’s all going.
WC: But it’s been pretty good I feel like it’s been pretty successful, it’s been a lot of hard work.
D: These days anybody can have a myspace, and a twitter and a website and have a presence and a portfolio, whereas ten years ago if somebody in a suit didn’t think that you were marketable you didn’t get the magazine coverage or the TV coverage or the website. Is this something that you would particularly agree with?
WC: Yeah, absolutely, I mean the internet is either a great thing and also a terrible thing, I mean there used to be humongous bands and then bar bands, there was nobody in between and then the internet came around and you had like a million bands that would try and stand on this middle ground where you didn’t need that much of a record label, you didn’t need you were able to have a career and tour and make a little bit of money but you weren’t on the radio and you weren’t on TV, so I think what the internet has done is make everything to accessible, there’s no more mystery involved in musicians and actors and people are just so fucking close, they follow you on twitter so like they’re your best friend and it’s weird!
D: It is a very strange modern industry
WC: It is and it’s evolving so fast that everyone’s trying to keep up it really is like record labels are fucking done, I mean what’s the label that just closed the big one?
WC: Yeah Roadrunner, fuck that was like the biggest metal label of our era.
D: There’s something weird when you’ve got KoRn and Soulfly and Shinedown and all these other perceived big sellers and it’s like yeah, Warner Brothers say we’re not selling enough, bye.
WC: These days bands are signed to 360 deals, everyone has one of those, if you signed to a label in the last five years you’re on a 360 deal, it sucks.
D : Of course, 360-deals make it harder for acts to make money as the labels have hands in their merch, rights, etc.
WC: It really is, it’s hard enough to make a living in this business as it is but then to give a record label your merch rights and to give them money when you tour? It’s just robbery, just full on robbery, it just sucks.
D: Do bands really need record labels these days?
WC: It’s kind of a tricky situation, I mean some bands do need a record label, some bands don’t at all, I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that people want to listen to music.
D: What do you see yourself doing next musically? At the minute you’re obviously touring for the new album , where can you see yourself going after this?
WC: Ummmmm I don’t know man, who knows, next year I might make a fucking Big Band album! I’ve got no fucking idea, I don’t wanna say this is exactly where I’m going because then I’m kinda setting myself up for disappointment, I dunno, we’ll see what happens.
D: What’s been the best surprises you’ve had making music?
WC: Well I define success by not having to work a regular job, you know by not having to work at McDonalds because that’s really all I’m qualified for either making records or making burgers, so for the last ten years I haven’t had to fill out a W9 for McDonalds Corporation. I don’t have any money but I’m able to eat, you know I’m not starving, so it’s been good, happy days!
D: Would you be interested in musical collaborations?
WC: Yes, totally
D : Who would you most like to work with and why?
WC: Oh man! I dunno, maybe Brian Molko from Placebo, I’d like to do a song with him.
D: He’s very talented.
WC: Yeah he’s awesome. There’s a million people I’d like to do a song with…
D: It would work, you should so call Brian up and be like “I’m coming with you on your big festival tour of Germany, and we’re going to do a song!”
WC: If I had his number I would! *pause* I’ll just write it on Twitter!
D: Apparent from music, what other influences are going into your music at the moment?
WC: A lot of literature, a lot of uh James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe, um Homer’s Odyssey, I’ve been reading that lately, a lot of literature. I read more books than I listen to records, I read more than I have music on.
D: You’re on tour with Fearless Vampire Killers, what have those guys been like?
WC: They’re awesome, great kids. I met them a while back before they had their band going, and they had you know the name of the band and an idea for what they wanted to do and you know they worked really hard to get where they wanted to be and now it’s sort of paying off , they’re getting press and tours and stuff, it’s good, they’re good I am really glad to see a band like that rather than you know some fucking dubstep…I don’t know what’s happening really, I listen to Frank Sinatra and I read books, I don’t go on myspace, I have no idea what’s fucking happening. I love your British wit though.
D: It happens the further north that you get
WC: I like England, I like how the accent changes every 50 miles,
D: It’s all down to invasions, we were invaded by the Norse, the south had the Normans, there’s a bit Danes going on as well and Hadrian’s wall is just up from here – which they reckon one of the purposes of being built was to stop the Scots invading.
WC: Man, Boredom, let’s go invade Newcastle!
D : And with that in mind…. That’s what you need to do shortly!