UTG INTERVIEW: William Control


There are a select few in this alternative music community who truly spend every waking second trying to develop fresh ideas to share with curious ears. Sometimes their efforts fail, sure, but in our book a disastrous experiment is better than a monotonous retread of familiar sonic territory any day of the week.

Of those who consistently work to find new ways to express their creativity, William Francis stands out as someone who, for better or worse, has experienced it all. From teen years plagued with crime and drug abuse, to rising through the underground ranks and signing his first record deal as the eccentric frontman of Aiden, to now touring the world opening for Black Veil Brides with his electronic project William Control, there are fews areas of the alternative community Francis has yet to dabble in. If he has an idea, he develops it as far as he possibly can, and that work ethic has allowed him to develop a career as an independent artist in a time when thousands of bands are starting to fall apart. I had the opportunity to speak with Will earlier this month about his career, the future of his various projects, and what (if any) advice he had for those hoping to make it in music. You can enjoy our conversation below.

William Control will be opening for Black Veil Brides on the “Church Of The Wild Ones” tour throughout the Spring. Click here for dates and ticket information.

UTG: Hello, everyone. Today is January 26 and we are in Worcester, MA covering the “Church Of The Wild Ones” where we are fortunately speaking with William Francis, otherwise known as William Control. How are you today?

WC: Cold as fuck. It’s too cold to live here and I don’t know why anyone would choose to settle.

UTG: It’s true. For the record, it’s twenty-six degrees outside and there are at least thirty kids in line with four hours to go before doors…So let’s start with the obvious question: How is the “Church Of The Wild Things” tour treating you thus far?

WC:It’s probably the greatest thing we’ve ever done. It’s just us and them, you know. We have our own dressing room. They are nice to us.

UTG: And this is the biggest outing you’ve done with William Control so far, correct?

WC: Yeah.

UTG: So how did you go about preparing and presenting yourself for this run in comparison to what people may have seen in the past?

WC: There’s no difference. We do exactly the same show. It’s kind of funny though, because most the kids coming to these shows don’t know I was the frontman of Aiden. They’ve never even heard of Aiden. They were in first grade when I was releasing Nightmare Anatomy, or maybe even kindergarten.

UTG: How does that makes you feel?

WC: Old.

UTG: Do you feel you’re becoming a part of what some may call a “previous generation”?

WC: I am! I’m literally a generation behind. It’s fucking strange how quickly it went. Here we are, a decade later, and it’s like, What? It’s been 10 years? Already?! I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

UTG: That it does. Speaking of fun, you recently released a “Live In London” DVD. What made you decide to film a show overseas for release?

WC: London is my favorite place. The connection I feel with my art and the history I’m intrigued with, London just seems the most fitting.

UTG: Could you see yourself moving there one day?

WC: You know, I don’t think so. I like my freedom too much and I definitely don’t want to spend $17 on every pack of cigarettes. Fuck. That.

UTG: It has been a few months since your last album hit shelves, but those watching the DVD will likely notice an unreleased song playing during the end credits. Is this a sign of new material to come? Are you working on another release?

WC: Yea man, we’re going to work on a new album over the Summertime, probably shooting for a Fall release.

UTG: Full length?

WC: We were sort of talking about doing a series of EPs leading up to an album that all intertwines. It would all be sung from different perspectives, creating a kind of double album.

UTG: Sounds like a large-scale project. Any chance you care to share the inspiration or concept behind the story you plan to present?

WC: It’s going to be… We just started talking about this too, but the concept is going to be the without William Control. The songs will be written and sung from a different perspectives. We’ll go back and touch on old songs as well, and I’ll write from the perspective of the masochist, or the perspective of whoever was on the receiving end of that particular story.

UTG: When looking at your previous work, the writing in Aiden has been a lot more straightforward. Are you getting to a point now in your career that you prefer the larger, concept/story-driven releases?

WC: Yea, I mean I’ve always been a fan of film and storytelling. With art and music… I mean, I can’t write a script. I’ve been working on some books, but it’s slow going because writing is a process. I like the idea of themes in albums though, and I like it to be a journey.

UTG: Fair enough. You mentioned working on some books.

WC: Yea, I’m working on two. One is fiction..[pause].. and I don’t really want to talk too much about that one just yet. The other one is the story of my drug using career as an adolescent.

UTG: Interesting. You’ve touched on that part of your life throughout various releases, correct?

WC: Yea, I’ve told bits and pieces, but I’m putting it together now. I mean, I have put it together. I have about 100 pages right now.

UTG: Is it strange to tap back into the part of your life having been so removed from it all these years?

WC: Not really. At this point it feels as if it was a movie I watched, like it wasn’t me. I know it was me. I remember those experiences and can tell you the smallest details of what went down, but it doesn’t feel as if that was me because it isn’t me. I’m a 31-year-old man now. I’m not even the same kid that started Aiden all those years ago. I’m not angry at the world. I’m not pissed. I’ve got no angst. I’m having a great time in life. Like Fat Mike, I’m all out of angst.

UTG: So what age would you say you woke up happy?

WC: [laughs] I don’t know that I would say I’m happy. I don’t even want to go to the rainbow end of the spectrum. I’m not the happiest guy, I mean, I’m still pretty morose. I’m just not as pissed at things I cannot control, even though there are still plenty of things that piss me off like religion, suicide bombings… the things everyone is concerned about.

UTG: Maybe that frame of mind is something that comes with time.

WC: Yeah, I give less of a fuck now. When I was in my early 20s I cared so much, and now I just don’t care. It makes you feel better about a lot of the shitty things in life.

UTG: I know we’ve spoken a lot about William Control, but fans would be upset if we didn’t at least touch on Aiden. What is going on with that project? Will there be another album?

WC: Yes. There will be one more Aiden album, mainly because I feel I left things on such a cliff in the midst of finishing our contract with Victory (Records). And like I said, I’m not the same kid that started Aiden anymore, but I do love Aiden and jumping around on stage. It’s a young man’s game though, and I’m not a young man anymore, you know? Warped Tour is a young man’s game. I want to appease the audience that has been with me and followed us for so long, but at the same time I feel sort of like a liar singing those songs on stage that I wrote and sung when I was teenager fresh out of jail. Those are songs I wrote because I was so angry at everything and wanted to change the world, but now I don’t give a fuck. [laughs] Now I want to tell fictional stories about whips and chains. You know, things that matter.

UTG: Looking ahead, what else does 2013 hold for you? The “Church Of The Wild Ones” continues for awhile…

WC: This goes on for awhile. We go to England, come back, finish the tour. Then I have about a month at home to build my studio. Then I go back to England for a couple more show, and then I’ll be back at home make the new Fearless Vampire Killers album.

UTG: We’ve been hearing a lot about them.

WC: They’re the true definition of punk rock. They all live in the same little flat in London. The two singers even sleep in the same bed because they just don’t have any money. They are fully committed to doing this band. It’s not about anything else in life except Fearless Vampire Killers, and that’s really rare, you know, to find people who care that much about their craft. You have people who are like “I’m in a band, but my girlfriend’s rich so I live with her, and I just do this for fun,” which is really the norm now. It’s easier to be in a band and make a record on Garageband than it is to work a job a Best Buy. There are so many kids who can figure out a laptop and get on stage with funny hair, you know?

UTG: So you have the album in the Fall, and tours around it. Then there’s the Aiden album and it will happen…sometime?

WC: Yea, sometime. When we get around to it. We’re not on a label anymore, and I’m not under duress to hurry and make it so everyone can pay bills, you know? There’s no schedule. Who cares? I’ll make it when I want to.

UTG: Sounds good to me. Before we let you go, any final thoughts for fans and readers?

WC: You know, I get asked all the time what I would tell a kid who dreams of being in a band, and you know what I would tell them? I would tell them them [to] give that dream up. Go to school. Become something more profitable, or at least something that will make a difference in the world because really, at the end of the day, what are musicians? We’re just a bunch of fucking assholes that don’t do anything except travel around and play in shitty venues. We don’t really do anything. Be a doctor. Be a lawyer. Make the world a better place.

UTG: How about being a writer?

WC: You could be a writer, but you gotta be careful there too because there are so many fucking people who are writers that shouldn’t be. Fuckin’ pricks. At this point, with the way the music industry is, we’ve returned to the point where there are no middle ground bands. It’s either Lady Gaga, or you are, you know, William Control. There is no middle ground where bands like Aiden can exist, that is gone. It’s going to weed out the people who are making music who are doing it because they love from the people who make it because they can get more chicks at this than by working at Best Buy. I will remain however. I am here.

Fuck everything. You know? Do what makes you happy.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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