It was 2003 in Chicago, Illinois and there was a band that due to the discovery by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy came a band that seemed to be jet propelled to take the throne in the pop-punk/emo world and that band is known as The Academy Is. It was at the time five members led by William Beckett on vocals, Mike Carden on guitars/vocals, Adam Siska on bass/vocals, A.J. LaTrace on guitars/vocals, and Michael DelPrincipe on drums.
In 2004, The Academy Is released their debut EP entitled “The Academy”. It received immediate regional success due to the pop hooks and infectious arrangements and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy immediately took notice, and The Academy Is was immediately signed to Fueled By Ramen Records. They went to Florida and tapped producer James Paul Wisner, who has worked with the likes of Dashboard Confessional and Underoath, and created their debut record entitled “Almost Here”. Immediately, there were several lineup changes in The Academy Is, as Thomas Conrad of 504 Plan replaced LaTrace on guitars/vocals and Andy Mrotek replaced DelPrincipe on the drums. Mrotek was previously in Last Place Champs. The Academy Is toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Something Corporate, Midtown, Matchbook Romance, Motion City Soundtrack, and Armor For Sleep before embarking on their first headlining tour with Plain White T’s, Days Away, and June providing support for The Academy Is. “Almost Here” was led by the single “The Phrase That Pays”, which would receive over three million hits on YouTube, and as a result, the album would chart at No. 185 on the Billboard 200 along with a top ten placement on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.
“The Phrase That Pays” The Academy Is
The Academy Is would be signed to Pete Wentz’s label Decaydance and Michael Guy Chislett would also replace Thomas Conrad in the band. After the signing, The Academy Is would enjoy a featured billing on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour and begin to work on their follow up record “Santi”.
The Academy Is would record “Santi” in Los Angeles while Butch Walker would produce the record. The album was released via Fueled By Ramen. The Academy Is would receive tremendous press from Blender Magazine and Absolute Punk, and the album would peak at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was fueled by the ballad “Everything We Had”, which would receive more than five million hits on YouTube, along with the singles “We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands” and “Neighbors”, which would both earn more than a million hits each on YouTube. The Academy Is would capitalize on this momentum with a stint on the 2007 Honda Civic Tour, which would feature Fall Out Boy, +44, Cobra Starship, and Paul Wall and they would headline the “Sleeping With Giants” tour which featured The Rocket Summer, Armor For Sleep, and Sherwood.
“Everything We Had” The Academy Is
The Academy Is would rush back into the studio and in 2008, was the peak of their career as they released their most successful album “Fast Times At Barrington High”. The album was an ode to the high school that the majority of the band went to and because of MySpace and PureVolume, The Academy Is would see major success with their single off of the album “About A Girl”. “About A Girl” also received television placement on the TV show “The Hills”. Hayden Cler would abruptly leave the band after the singles “Summer Hair= Forever Young” and “His Girl Friday” were also released. “About A Girl” was The Academy Is’s biggest hit, and “Fast Times At Barrington High” would be recognized on a year end countdown via Rolling Stone Magazine and it would peak at No. 17 on the Billboard 200. “About A Girl” would earn over seven million hits on YouTube.
“About A Girl” The Academy Is
In 2009, The Academy Is would release their EP “Lost In Pacific Time”, which was an Alternative Press exclusive and would play an anti-suicide benefit concert at Barrington High School in Barrington, Illinois. They would also play direct support for Blink 182 at the St. Louis stop due to The All American Rejects not able to play the date due to injury. Andy Mrotek and Michael Guy Chislett announced they would be leaving The Academy Is to pursue their own musical interests. On October 8th, 2011, they announced via their Facebook page that they would be disbanding to pursue their own musical interests.
In 2015, The Academy Is reunited briefly to play Riot Fest in Chicago and they would play 15 more shows to commemorate the 10 Year Anniversary of “Almost Here”. No word is given if The Academy Is is on hiatus or if they have disbanded permanently.
Madness To Creation’s take: I viewed this band as a band for the pop-punk crowd, after examining their catalog, I really felt that while their songs were catchy, that they were just another pop punk band that was “here today and gone tomorrow”. Their songs aren’t really that memorable and I felt they fit in a time where Fall Out Boy, The Killers, My Chemical Romance, and Panic! At The Disco were the trendsetters in that genre. “About A Girl” is incredibly catchy, however, the other songs don’t really leave a lasting legacy on that genre due to the generic arrangements and I feel that Beckett’s vocals were pretty bland for the genre. The Academy Is gets 4.5 out of 10 stars for me. It’s a catalog that will probably be collecting dust on the shelves for me.