If you’ve been keeping an eye on William Francis ever since he played the charismatically intimidating frontman of punk stalwarts Aiden, you’ll know that during and following the band’s conclusion he went on to front a solo project called William Control. William Control is currently on its fifth studio album, which comprises of four EPs, only half of which have been released so far. It’s most recent segment, ‘The Black’, just dropped in February. So, we caught up Francis recently to talk about new music, record labels, moving on from the past, the future, and on why he despises the alt-right movement.
Your most recent EP just hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Did you expect that? Your last EP got it as well, right?
Yeah, it did. I don’t know if I was expecting it but it was a nice surprise. I’m pretty fucking excited about it.
For sure. In the beginning, did William Control get that kind of success in terms of the mainstream avenues? It seems like it was always from outlets such as Alternative Press or Rock Sound.
It’s always been in the alternative world, for sure. I’m not sure if it would really appeal to the masses, a widespread, mainstream outlet; it’s pretty niche.
It is! For the people who haven’t read your books or heard of what you’re about, how would you explain William Control to them?
Basically, I’ve been putting out records for William Control and Aiden for more than a decade now, and I’ve been in this industry that’s constantly evolving and changing as technology has ushered in this new era of delivery. You used to have to get signed to a label and the label had to pay a fuckload of money to make a record and it took months and a huge team of people to put it out, but in today’s society a kid on a laptop can make a cool song, release it and have someone in Japan hear it before his mother hears it in the next room.
So with regards to the new album, I mean obviously we’ve taken everything in-house. We record our own albums, we mix them, we master them. I have my own studio, we do our own merch. So with this new album, we thought that instead of releasing a whole record which would kind of get lost on people, you know you put out an album these days and it’s in the charts for a week or a couple of weeks and it’s in people’s Facebook feeds for a little while and after a few weeks it’s onto the next thing. There’s so much content being released. So the idea for the Revelations series is that we’re constantly releasing something. We release a new album, a new video, we do some press, and then a couple of months later we do it all again. It keeps it fresh in people’s minds and at the top of their feeds, you know.
Did your past experiences with Victory Records influence why you wanted to release independently this time around?
Yeah, absolutely. Everyone has heard the stories about Victory Records but Victory Records is not unique in the sense it is not artist friendly. Every label is like that. You talk to any band and 95% of bands are like’ fuck our label, they suck’. Because at the end of the day, every label is just a fucking bank to make your album and promote it. That’s all a label is. And if you have people that work at your label who don’t give a shit about your band, they’re not going to do the work. No one cares about William Control as much as I do. So at the end of the day, we wanted to put things out on our own label so it would get the attention that we felt we could give it.
What are the external relationships you can trust? Where someone cares, obviously not as much as you, but enough?
Usually, if they’re gonna make money.
I wanted to talk about your relationship with your fans. Do you get feedback from them that you introduced them to the worlds you reference in your music? The William Control project has a lot of BDSM content, but I’m also talking about the political world Aiden referenced, where you used to quote Christopher Hitchens a lot.
Absolutely, all the time. Because the way I got into stuff, like writers or bands, the things that interested me were from people that I had read interviews with. I think that’s pretty cool, to be able to introduce someone to something that’s so very important in their lives.
Aiden always seemed to be an outlet for the political. Do you have an outlet for that element of politics and that punk spirit now that William Control has taken what you talk about to such a different place?
I used Aiden as an outlet to get that stuff out of me, and although I’m still the same person and I still have a lot of those same feelings about how religion is of total detriment to our human existence and should be fucking obliterated from this Earth, I just don’t need that outlet anymore. I have William Control as an ‘other’ artistic outlet.
Well, you’ve already gotten out what you had to say and now you have other things to talk about.
Exactly! I’ve evolved and I’ve got other things to talk about. If you want to hear about all that stuff, and read about it, the records exist. It’s all on iTunes. The internet is there.
Based on your interest in that in the past, that entire realm of politics, I wanted to get your thoughts on the current alt-right movement in America. Apparently “conservatism is the new punk“.
Oh, my god. What is my opinion? I mean, what I liked about Christopher Hitchens was that he was a proletariat. He opposed a lot of things that were popular. He spoke in a way that was eloquent and beautiful and he was very intelligent, one of the smartest people that has probably ever lived. And his gift of argument is unrivalled. And I think that if he was alive today he would just eviscerate these people.
I feel like my opinion on the alt-right movement is it’s like a backlash of living in a country with a black president for eight years. Where poor, uneducated white people are easily manipulated and easily terrorised to think that their rights are going to be imposed on. 70% of this country is Christian but you’ve got the Christians on TV talking about how there’s a war on Christmas and Christians are going to be put to death and Sharia law is going to be introduced. The rhetoric from the news organisations really riles up the people who are just not very educated.
The alt-right movement is really just a backlash, it’s white people being afraid of a future that they can’t control. It’s fucking retarded man, it’s so stupid. The fact of the matter is that people in 2017, human beings, are still very tribal. We live in clusters and communities of people of the same race and religion and the same views on life because we’re afraid of the lion that could attack us if we were just out hunting on our own. So we stay in these communities. We’re still very tribal.
People are still racist; the fact is that people are still fucking racist. Which blows my mind, it’s as if they’ve never travelled the world. Most of these people have never left their community, never left their state. They just sit at home and watch these terrible news organisations, fanning the fire of their own fear. If people were more educated, if they learned more, if they spent more time gathering knowledge in this world, travelling and seeing other cultures, they would realise we are all human beings. We all walked out of Africa a couple of hundred thousand years ago. We’re all Africans.
It’s stupid. That’s what I think of the alt-right movement.
Even if you can’t travel, you have an opportunity to learn with the internet. Obviously, it’s where you go to learn; you can go to a site that reinforces your beliefs or you can expand what you know.
That’s also the problem too, the Google algorithms. Two people search for the same thing and you get different results based on what you search for, what you key in. There’s so much bad information out there now, you know? That’s the real problem with the internet; there are oceans of wonderful information and true facts but people choose to deny those facts and they find this cesspool of hatred and bullshit.
What’s next for William Control? Is this the end of William Control or is there going to be another record?
We’re doing these EP’s, we’re doing a bunch of tours this year and next year is the ten year anniversary of Hate Culture so we’re going to do a big re-release of that. We’re gonna start working on that probably later this year.
‘Revelations: The Black’ EP is out now via Control Records. The next EP for ‘Revelations’ is set to release in America’s Summer and the final part coming in America’s Fall. So we’ll still get it here in Australia, don’t you worry!