Interview: William Control

This interview originally featured in December 2016’s issue of VultureHound Magazine – a digital version is available here.

Having put one project to bed, William Francis, better known as William Control, recently released the first part of a four part record in Revelations.

Having self-released the latest EP Revelations: The Pale, the vocalist has taken control of his creative output and is doing things the way he wants. VultureHound caught up with the Gothic master as he was waiting for a flight back to Seattle to discuss branching into Hollywood, being selfish, and possibly closing the book on the character of William Control.

It has been a really busy 2016 thus far for you, how have you managed to keep track of everything you are doing?

Well I don’t drink or smoke pot so that helps. I just have a list of things to do and go through the list and bang them out one by one.

The year started with you closing the book on Aiden and since then you have been expanding things with William Control, how have you seen the year develop for yourself?

It has been fantastic. We did the last Aiden album to put that band to rest in the right way and give fans something to listen to and then to head out on tour to say goodbye and I feel like we accomplished the tasks we set out to accomplish with that band.

I then spent the first part of the year setting up the merch company, organising the building I had brought, writing the new William Control album, and preparing for the release and we put a lot of time and effort into the aesthetic of it and the sound of the album. Now we are at this jumping off point where we are just ready to get out and crush it.

With setting up the merch company and releasing the new EP off your own record label is it – pardon the pun – you taking creative control and saying to the audience this is what I want to do?

Yeah exactly. The biggest thing that bummed me out about being on a record label was the fact that I had to work on someone else’s schedule, I wasn’t free to release something whenever I wanted, I had to ask for someone’s permission. I was so against authority and against rules that getting permission felt weird. Like, I’m a grown man. I shouldn’t have to ask permission to do something regarding my art. I’m just tired for working for other people and working on other people’s time so we just took everything in house.

Aside from the music, you keep yourself busy, shooting music videos, starting your own merch company, writing books, and it recently being announced you are also stepping into the world of film. Do you prefer living the busy lifestyle?

I’m not the type of guy to sit at home and watch TV, I don’t have cable at my house in Seattle, I just can’t really sit around. If I am not writing, or recording or touring, then I am reading or I am building something or I’m printing some merch. I also have to be doing something.

It was recently announced that The Revelator books will be given the big screen treatment, so how did that all come about?

Last year I was approached by a guy called Jacob Johnson, who at the time worked for Marvel studios, so I met him for lunch and we talked about Revelator and he was really into the idea of writing a screenplay for it.

So he wrote the screenplay and over the last year we have been sending it out and getting people interested. It is a slow process but it’s good, I mean we are in the casting process at the moment so we are sending out letters to people like Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGreoger all these crazy people who I never thought I’d be in the same vicinity as let alone casting them for a film of my book.

Any chance fans will see you stepping in front of the camera?

To be honest I am not going to be a major role, but I might have a cameo who knows.

Speaking of being in front of the camera, you recently released the video for the song The Monster from the Revelations: The Pale EP. Was the intention of this video to give fans a bit more of an insight into the William Control character?

Absolutely. I feel at this point I’ve had this kind of William Control facade for quite some time now. And this new album revelations is really about the four aspects of our lives which can ultimately destroy us or build us into better people. It is also about revealing who I really am and what this character is really about, and almost puts a bookend on the story of William Control. I have been doing these concept albums since Hate Culture and I wrote The Revelator to a precursor to what Hate Culture was, so between the three Revelator books, that is the end of that story.

Photo: @terrymatlin

So I think revelations is really the end of that William Control story. With Revelations being split into four different EPs, once the final one is out into the public domain will that be the end of this WIlliam Control project?

I don’t know, I don’t really have a plan for it. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t want to be bound to something or have expectations of anything in this life, I just want to make art and create, travel, dance and sing and have a good time in my life.

The first of the four EPs is called The Pale, what was the reasoning behind the choice of name?

Each EP is named after the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The Pale Horse, The Black Horse, The White Horse and The Red Horse, which we thought fit quite nicely with the title Revelations. And by splitting it into four parts we wanted to give it that feel of the four huge things that can change life, war, death, famine and destruction.

As previously mentioned, even though you have been doing WIlliam Control for a number of years, many people’s first introduction of yourself may have been through Aiden. How have you found transitioning sound from one project to another?

When I first started William Control there was always going to be some crossover fans from Aiden, because they like the way I write songs. But a lot of people who loved Aiden don’t necessarily like William Control cos they both have completely different sounds. It took a long time to switch from just being ‘the guy from Aiden’ to this is William Control and it has almost taken the audience to flip to where we are now, where many of the William Control fans have never heard of Aiden or they don’t like Aiden but they love William Control.

As you said it took a while for some people to detach WIlliam Control from being the guy from Aiden and there is a like in the opening track of Hate Culture which really sticks with me where you say I dont want you to like me is that a message of you saying this is something completely new?

Yeah that’s exactly right. I make music and I write books and I do everything that I do not because I want people to like me, but because I need to exorcise these demons out of my head. The fact that people have gravitated towards it and some people really connect with it on a deep and meaningful level is amazing. And that is something I am truly grateful for because it means I am able to do what I do. But at the end of the day I don’t give a fuck if you like me or not, I make music because I am selfish and I want to make something. I’m going to make something because I want to, whether you exist or not I’m still going to make it.

You have been in the music industry for well over a decade now, either with Aiden or William Control, and both acts progressed and changed as the years went byHave you seen your music influence bands first hand?

I have met tonnes of kids in bands today who have said ‘Nightmare Anatomy’ was my jam in high school so I made a band. I mean Andy from Black Veil Brides, he was an Aiden fan and now he’s in arguably one of the most famous rock bands around.

I never though that I would influence someone else to go out and pick up a guitar or start writing lyrics. It was never in my mind, I have always just writing music for myself so it is really gratifying when you hear that what you have created has influenced someone else.

I mean if I never had the bands I was influenced by who knows I could have ended up as a lawyer, or an accountant, or working Burger King who knows? 

This interview originally featured in December 2016’s issue of VultureHound Magazine – a digital version is available here.

Main Photo: @kimmiboophotos

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