INTERVIEW: William Control

Electronic music and rock have always made for interesting results when fused together, but perhaps one of the best acts at combining the two styles over the last decade has been WILLIAM CONTROL. The project of former AIDEN frontman William Francis had up until recently put out four albums and a variety of EPs, but are now tackling their most ambitious effort yet – an elaborate multi-part record entitled Revelations. We caught up with William himself to find out more about the band’s history and about the recently-released second part of Revelations, an EP known as The Black.

You’re on tour in the US and Canada at the moment (playing Calgary tonight) with ANDY BLACK and PALAYE ROYALE – how’s everything been going so far on the road?

William: Uh, it’s been alright, we’ve only had to cancel one show because of the snow in Portland, Maine. But it’s been alright, yeah, the shows have been packed, people have been receptive, it’s a lot of fun.

Have there been any particular highlights from the shows so far for you?

William: You know what, Cincinnati was really good – I think that’s where Andy is from, like his hometown or something so that was a great show. Toronto was a great show too. Yeah, there’s been a couple of great shows.

Obviously, being on tour in a support capacity at the moment, have you had much chance to be airing tracks from The Black and The Pale, or has it mostly been older material?

William: Yeah, no, it’s been a good mix actually, kinda half and half.

Revelations – The Black EP dropped just over a week ago at this point, have you had much chance to gauge the reactions from the public and from critics yet?

William: Yeah, it’s been really, really receptive. You know, 90% of these people we’ve been playing to are young kids who’ve never heard of WILLIAM CONTROL, so I mean, it’s pretty much a new audience every single day that we’re playing for. And it’s been really receptive, especially the songs off of The Black.

Is that an exciting prospect to you really, playing to crowds who might not necessarily be familiar with your work?

William: Yeah, absolutely. You know, with any project, you can build a fanbase yourself by going out and working hard and getting people to talk about it. But in the music business it’s really hard to be able to reach a new audience, so to go out and be able to play shows in front of like really young kids that’ve never really heard any of this kind of music is pretty fucking awesome.

Do you see yourselves as being almost a gateway act into this kind of music for those people in a way then?

William: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s my hope that these kids might see us perform and y’know, start looking up our stuff online or start looking up this kind of music online I suppose. I mean, these kids, they’re really young ANDY BLACK fans who love BLACK VEIL BRIDES and love Andy Biersack and so they’ve probably never heard of NEW ORDER or DEPECHE MODE or JOY DIVISION or any bands that we’re influenced by.

Moving on slightly, the closing track on The Black, Velvet Rose, really stands out in particular to me as something very different to the other three tracks on the EP, and almost harks back to London Town from Hate Culture in a way – what was the inspiration behind that song in particular?

William: Well, I mean, the whole Revelations record with the four EPs, we kinda wanted to view it as one entire album with sixteen songs, and so putting that song at the end of EP two kind-of bookends that record, so it’s sort of like the end of the first part before Side B in a way, which is going to be The Red and The White. And those will be coming out in the summer and the fall. And yeah, y’know it was inspired by that last track we did on Hate Culture all those years ago.

As you mentioned, the Revelations project is coming out across four separate EPs with The Pale and The Black already out, and The Red and The White still to come. Was the intention to always release the album in these separate parts, and if not, at what point in the process did you make that choice?

William: We didn’t really know what we were going to do honestly. We just wrote songs, kept writing songs and then recording them. And then once we had a whole record done we decided “Well this is probably best if we split it up four-ways”.

I suppose that affords you the chance to be able to tour each individual part separately as well if you wanted, rather than say just touring the whole thing and only getting to play a couple of songs from it?

William: Yeah exactly. I mean it’s like, 2017’s a lot different from how it was in, say 1997, where you bought a record and you listened to the fucking whole record because there was no iPods, no fucking Apple Music. You bought an album and you got the lyrics and listened to the whole thing, and really focused on that for however long until the next band put out another album that you really liked. So in today’s society, you know, this hyper-technological world we live in, I feel like if you release an album you could focus on maybe one or two songs but then it just disappears into peoples’ Facebook feeds and that’s the end of it. So I guess it’s for people with ADD y’know? Haha. We’ve all got ADD. People won’t even buy records anymore y’know? They don’t sit and read the lyrics and look at the artwork, they just listen to the record and do whatever the fuck they do

What led you to the whole Horsemen of the Apocalypse theming for the titles?

William: Well I mean it’s like, the Four Horsemen are War, Famine, Conquest and Death and I think that kind-of relates to our own career where we’re like fighting for what we want to do as a band. And it seems fitting for this album that since we’re splitting it up into these parts to name it after those four.

What can fans expect to hear from those two upcoming parts and will it be a continuation of the stylistic themes of what we’ve heard so far?

William: Uh, I can’t actually remember which is which off the top of my head, y’know, I don’t have the song lists in front of me. But one of them is real kind-of dancey and the other one is more song-driven – band songs-driven. But they’re all written and recorded with this new equipment that we got, so they sound better sonically – they’re just far superior to all the other albums we’ve ever put out. So, a good time, that’s what you can expect.

That sort-of leads in to my next question in a way – how much of a strong progression from a musical standpoint do you feel there’s been between these Revelations releases and the project’s last full release, The Neuromancer?

William: I mean, there’s been a huge change really. When we started making this music, when we started writing and recording this music you know, Kenneth (Fletcher, guitars) and I are fucking punk-rock kids. I mean, we don’t know how to make electronic music. With Hate Culture, we just wrote songs that were punk rock songs, but with synths instead of guitars. So we’ve never really fit inside this whole kind-of industrial-electro scene where all these bands have been thriving for years. We never really set out to be like “Well, now we’re gonna be in this scene”, we just wrote a record where we liked the songs and we just happened to write it with electronic instruments. And the technology we used in 2007 to write that album, we used all the way up to The Neuromancer. So with regards to the synths and the sounds and sonically, everything we used was exactly the same – we used the same computer, same synthesiser and same drums, all that shit. And so this new album Revelations, I went out and sold all my old shit and went and bought all new stuff which is obviously gonna sound so much better y’know? It’s almost ten years worth of technology, a lot’s changed. So yeah, I mean, it’s far superior to all of our other albums.

You’re back over here in the UK in April for four shows, and then a wider European run, supporting AESTHETIC PERFECTION on what’s billed as the Industrial Pop Tour – do you feel like that’s a good moniker for the bands on that tour and what sort of music they represent?

William: I mean, really we’re just supporting so I’d say that’s more their thing honestly. Like, I wouldn’t consider us to be industrial pop at all really, in any way shape or form. We’re kinda just…fuck I don’t know? We call it neuromantic and that’s just what we are. We just decided we’d start our own genre I suppose. Because fuck it.

You’ve obviously been touring a lot over here these past few years, with both the first Revelations EP and also with the Skeleton Strings acoustic run. Is it always exciting for you to be able to come back and tour in the UK?

William: I love coming to the UK, the UK’s like one of my favourite places. I always have a good time there and the shows are always really good, and the drives are short so it’s really convenient. It’s such a small place and you can play a bunch of shows there, it’s a lot of fun.

With the last UK run, Synths & Sinners, for the first EP you played all of the tracks from The Pale – will you be doing the same for The Black on this run, or will you focus slightly more on older songs?

William: Uh, I don’t think we’ll play all of it, no. We might play three songs though, probably won’t do the piano one.

And then obviously off to mainland Europe for more shows with those guys.

William: Yep, correct.

Have you got many other projects in the pipeline for the immediate future, or is it mostly just  focusing on WILLIAM CONTROL stuff for you at the moment?

William: Yeah man, I mean, this year is really gonna be all about putting out these EPs and getting the videos done. We’re doing a tour this summer and then we’re working on something for the Fall. And I’m also working on this Revelator movie, and so right now we’re in the casting process of doing this movie that’s based off of the books I wrote.

Is there much you can say about that at this point?

William: There’s not really much to say right now, it’s like, we’ve got some money for about half of the budget and we’re casting, but it’s a really slow process and there’s so many different people it’s got to go through. So many different conversations you’ve got to have before someone’s like “I’ll do it!”, but we’re just gonna keep on trucking with it for now.

Have you got anything you’d like to say to the readers of Distorted Sound Magazine?

WC: Just a huge thank you to everyone who listens to this type of music and buys the merchandise and continues to support this art so we can continue to go and dance around like dummies on stage.

Thanks so much for your time today William, it’s been a real pleasure as always.

William: Yeah man, thanks a lot, speak to you again soon.

Revelations: The Black EP is out now via Control Records.

WILLIAM CONTROL will tour the UK in April alongside AESTHETIC PERFECTION. Like WILLIAM CONTROL on Facebook.