Chicago's the Academy Is... are in an L.A. studio working on the follow-up to 2005's breakthrough Almost Here with producer Butch Walker, and singer William Beckett -- most recently heard on the Snakes on a Plane theme song with Cobra Starship -- gave SPIN.com the scoop on the recording process.
The album, called Chop Chop, is due in March. "It's going more quickly than we expected," Beckett said. And quickly is exactly how the band likes to tackle things. The album title comes from, as Beckett put it, "our busy schedules. There's no time for any self-reflection because everything is so chop chop. We're not frustrated by this, we're trying to urge people to take a minute from their lives and breathe and analyze and take it all in."
While Almost Here was written mostly by Beckett and guitarist Mike Carden, Chop Chop has been a more collaborative effort. "Now I feel like we're real musicians," Beckett declared. And though the singer refused to divulge too many details about the new album, he did reveal he's been listening to the Replacements, the Kooks, the Raconteurs, and Phoenix for inspiration. "These bands are doing something off-kilter, a little different," Beckett gushed. "And we've grown, as have our musical tastes."
Beckett also disclosed two of the album's song titles: "LAX to O'Hare" and "Bulls in Brooklyn." The geographical specificity of these tunes' titles may come from the band's relentless touring schedule from the past two years, which culminated in a national headlining tour, Warped Tour dates, and playing with the likes of Panic! at the Disco, All-American Rejects, and Fall Out Boy.
These experiences provided much of the inspiration behind Chop Chop. "A lot has happened to us. Having a minute to reflect on us and our families has opened up my eyes that not much has changed about what I really need and truly care about," Beckett said. "It all comes back down to the basics of what I started with. Family, friends, and love. This record is about real things, not about struggling with stardom. And it's not about weblogs."
Despite the hard work in the studio, which began on Halloween, TAI have been able to get out and experience L.A. like only rock stars can: on roller skates. "It was Butch Walker's birthday and he rented out this roller rink," Beckett recalled. "None of us had skated in years and I'm far too tall and lanky for that kind of stuff. Butch is pretty good at it, but with the combination of excitement, lights, and music, he fell and sprained his knee. Now he's limping around the studio."
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