With The Academy Is...  comfortably in his rearview mirror, William Beckett is ready for his solo career.
The Chicago group's former frontman has just released "Walk the Talk," the first of three planned EPs for 2012, and will be hitting the road for a headlining tour on May 4 in Minneapolis. "I feel like this has been a long time coming," Beckett tells Billboard.com. "But having been in a band for seven years and being on tour constantly and releasing three records and a few EPs...You tend to have some loyalty to that."
Beckett says The Academy Is... came to a stop in October, after losing two members -- drummer Andy Mrotek and guitarist Guy Chislett -- and briefly starting work on a fourth studio album. "We were really struggling," Beckett explains. "It wasn't fun, and it wasn't as natural as it should be, as it was in the beginning. I could've kept the band together and it could've seemed all nice and cozy, but the reality is I would've been miserable. I felt a responsibility not only to myself but to the fans of the band...to stick true to my vision without compromising and not force a record out just to keep the band together."
Beckett already had some songs together, but he also headed to Nashville to work with some other writers. The three EP idea, he explains, "spawned just from the way the industry has gone in the rock world. Do I want to release a full-length record right away with this new vision? I felt like it may have been too big a dose of something new...and I didn't want to wait eight months or something to put a record out. Right now the importance for me was to put music out immediately, and this seemed like the best way to do it. Every three months or so I'll release another selection of songs, and at the end of the year you can take all 12 songs from the three releases and you've got your record."
Beckett is planning a July or August release for his second EP and a fall release for the third. The tour, meanwhile, will take him around North America through May, then to Japan and southeast Asia in June, with Beckett playing a selection of his solo songs, The Academy Is... favorites and covers. "We're going to a bunch of places my band was never able to play," he says. "I'm excited about that, to play for some fans that have been following us since the beginning who have never seen it."
As for any apprehensions about going solo, Beckett acknowledges that, "I don't know what to expect. But I've done this before. My band started from the ground up. I'm not afraid of being independent, of any of it. When it comes down to it, win, lose or draw, at least it's me. It's genuine. It's my vision completely and it's not compromised. And if people love it, that's great. If they don't, that's great, too. The people who do connect with it are who I do it for."
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