The Academy Is ... come out of the same Chicago punk scene that produced Fall Out Boy, and indeed it was Pete Wentz who recommended the band to his label, Fueled By Ramen. Cut from a similar cloth, the group's songs boast boisterous ringing hooks with a smattering of rock bite and self-conscious reflection. Steady touring with acts like Fall Out Boy, Motion City Soundtrack and Something Corporate helped garner a strong following even before the release of its debut LP, Almost Here.
The 2007 follow-up, Santi, boasts a darker, harder-rocking tone reflecting intra-band difficulties after years on the road, abetted by Butch Walker's taut production. The sunny, often wistful tone of the band's latest, Fast Times at Barrington High, is a product of the band coming to terms with itself and feeling more secure in its skin, according to bassist Adam Siska. It's not so much about high school as a period in life that's passed, written to amplify the innocent spirit of those times.
"I wouldn't want to say it's a back-to-roots album as far as sound, but it is a little more straightforward and streamlined," Siska says. "Anybody can shred on the guitar. You can go to Guitar Center and see a million guys who are way better than you at guitar but can never figure out how to write a structured song with a great melody. That's always been a little bit more important to us, just being able to write a song as opposed to sounding like Zakk Wylde."
Alternative Press "Fall Ball '09" tour, feat. The Academy Is ... , Mayday Parade, Set Your Goals, The Secret Handshake andYou Me At Six. 5 p.m. Sun., Nov. 15. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15. All ages. 412-263-2877 or www.altarbarpittsburgh.com