‘What I love about England is the history’: An interview with William Control

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While attending the Whitby Goth Festival I happened to run into Friday night’s headliner, the Seattle-based musician Wil Francis, who kindly agreed to answer a few questions for The Edge. Wil is lead singer in the band Aiden, a producer, and also fronts his other project William Control.  We chatted about his love for the UK, his work with some of the other bands playing at Whitby Goth Weekend and his somewhat unusual method of financing the building of his new studio.

Why did you decide to come all the way over to England to play two stand alone dates at opposite ends of the country?

It’s definitely a long way to come to play two shows! [laughs]Well, we [William Control] were the openers for this year’s April Whitby Goth Festival and the organisers were really keen on having us back, so we got the offer to headline the November date. And, as we have the American tour coming up I couldn’t really book any more UK dates, so I thought it would be nice to have one last show in London.

You come over to the UK quite a lot for an American artist. Is there something that you feel draws you back here, is there anything specific you like about the UK?

I think what I love about England is the history, the fact that is has a history. In America, we don’t really have a history as much, it all goes back about 400 years at most. And 400 years ago, everyone was living at Plymouth Rock, burning witches! We don’t have pubs that are 1000 years old, or any roads that the Romans built, or anything like that. There’s such a rich history over here. I went to a place called Chester and they have a church there that was built in the seventh century. There’s nothing that’s built in the seventh century in America!

You’ve put out some quite unusual projects, including a set of readings of Edgar Allen Poe’s work. Would you consider doing something like that again?

Yeah, I did The Oval Portrait, Eleonora, The Raven and The Tell Tale Heart. I’d say that Edgar Allen Poe is my favourite gothic author and Eleonora’s my favourite book of his. I probably would consider doing something like that again. I did those before I moved last year and broke down my studio, and now I’ve got the new studio built it would be good to do some more readings. I’ve been working consistently though, first with the Fearless Vampire Killers and on my own record, so I really haven’t had time to do anything like that again. I’m sure I will though.

How did you raise the money to build your new studio?

Well, it was partly financed through an acoustic album I recorded that people could buy, and the other part was that I took loans out. With high interest [laughs]I got a really great response to that acoustic album though. I believe that in the digital age, artists have to be creative about how we make a living, and being able to offer something as cool as an acoustic album for just five bucks was pretty awesome.

You’ve just released your first book Revelator. Do you have any plans to release more books?

Yeah, it’s the first book in a three book series. They’re novellas, each one about 25,000 words, so altogether it’ll be a novel. I don’t think I’m going to extend it beyond that though.

What plans have you got for the rest of the year after you finish these last two dates in England?

Well, my new album Neuromancer is coming out on the 3rd of December, so I’m really excited to get that out there and have people listen to it. I’m also going to be doing the ‘Revel Without a Cause’ tour of the US through November and December with Fearless Vampire Killers and Davey Suicide, so that’s quite exciting as well.

How come you picked those two acts to tour with?

Well, I’ve worked quite closely with Fearless Vampire Killers for a while, I just finished recording their new album with them, and I thought taking them on the tour with me would be a really good way to give them more exposure to an audience in America early on and see what happens. Davey Suicide is a really good friend of mine and we’ve been talking about doing a tour together for a long time.

How did you end up working so closely with Fearless Vampire Killers?

Aiden [Wil’s other band] took FVK on their UK tour 3 years ago, that was the first tour they ever did. We’ve kind of kept in touch and stayed friends since then. And now they’ve built up a fanbase and put some records out, it’ll be good to take them on tour in America. I think they’re ready for that now.

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