The Academy Is…, a band stemming out of Chicago, Illinois, is one which no one should miss out on. With insightful lyrics and catchy music, these 5 men have made their presence known in the musical society. With one EP and three albums, their talent has yet to stop. In 2008, their new album, Fast Times at Barrington High was released, making a huge impact on fans all over. I was recently lucky enough to sit down and chat with bassist Adam T. Siska, otherwise known as Sisky Business.
In the video for “About a Girl,” you were wearing a Marching Band suit. Were you really in the band?
Sisky: I was in a couple of Jazz classes, but I didn’t really like them. I felt that music shouldn’t feel like it’s work. It should feel like you’re playing because you like it. And I don’t think that was the same outlook as the teacher, so I didn’t do it. My brother was in the marching band, and he had to wear all the dorky outfits, which I thought was funny.
My friend was in the marching band for about a year, and then never did it again.
How were your grades in school, and what was your favorite subject?
Sisky: My grades weren’t very good in high school. I mean, I think my head was somewhere else. When I was in school, my head was back at home, in the tree house, or where ever. And I was writing band names on my notebook, and thinking about music. That being said, I do think I’ve learned a lot, even though my grades weren’t the best. History was my favorite subject, and I think I have a pretty fair knowledge of World History, and U.S. History and all those things. Yeah, maybe someday I’ll go back to school, like Billy Madison.
We were actually talking about that today. About how humans are the only species that thinks about their past and future, while all other animals live in the moment.
Sisky: I really just worry about today, and I guess the future is important. I have an interest in history, not because I have to know, but because I like to know. And it’s nice to know the things that went on before, you can just watch everything on YouTube.
Did you have any good inside jokes between you and your friends?
Sisky: Oh. A million. They probably won’t come off as funny to anyone else, but to us they were. Crazy things. We used to have this way of insulting each other, like “You are such a…” insert the blank there. Like you are such a… you know… anything at all. Like You are such an earthworm, whatever. Dorky stuff. We used to do this thing where if something funny happened, and somebody kind of killed the funniness of it, you killed it. We used to set people up and whoever killed the joke, we like to let them know. And it’s always kind of humiliating when you were the one attempting to be funny, but wasn’t.
How long was your longest relationship in high school?
Sisky: I didn’t have any relationships in high school. You know, unfortunately I think it’s kind of insane to date in high school. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t, but I don’t know. I think it’s pretty weird. Pretty soon they’re gonna leave that town, and sometimes you’re never gonna come back. Honestly in high school, I tried to hang out with my friends, and do kid stuff. Because being a kid is fun, and when you’re younger you always wanna act grown up and have relationships, and then when you grow up you kinda wish you could be a kid again, and just hang out with your boys.
Yeah. High school relationships bring so much drama, and it’s insane.
Sisky: Yeah. I’m not a fan of that. I wanna have a family someday, and I’m not gonna tell my kids they can’t date, because I’m not gonna fight them. But I will encourage them to remember that high school is gonna end pretty soon. But, you know, some people are high school sweet hearts and are together forever.
Yeah. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for three years now.
Sisky: Right on. I’m not discouraging you, but it’s not for some people.
What was your first impression of William when you first met?
Sisky: I met William in my basement. He was hanging out with my older brother, Jason. They were playing in a band together, and William played drums. He had khaki shorts on, and a wife beater, a tank top would be a more appropriate term. He had slicked back hair, similar to how mine is today, he had his ears pierced. I thought he was pretty cool when I first met him. I didn’t know anyone like that, and he was playing drums left handed, and I had never seen that before either. I liked William right off the bat. I don’t know how much he liked me. I was kind of like the… his friend’s little brother that would hang around a lot. Eventually I convinced him I was cool enough to hang out with, and here we are today.
What did you usually do during the summer?
Sisky: I grew up in kind of a remote, wooded area right on the river. My summers were more along the lines of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer. We used to go around the neighborhood collecting milk cartons, and we would put them underneath some plywood, and make boats. We made this massive boat one summer, and we’re on a voyage down the river in this makeshift boat, and it ended up sinking and we had to call our parents who were seven miles away. Stuff like that. I spent the majority of my summers outside because Chicago, in the winter, it’s not any kind of place you wanna go outside. It’s pretty crazy. You gotta wear ten shirts, and you’re still freezing cold. So when the summer months came around, it was important to get off the internet, and go outside. Ride bikes, catch frogs, build forts. Pretend you were Native Americans or explorers or something. And kind of get in touch with the Midwest.
Did you guys actually go back to Barrington High to shoot the video for “About a Girl?”
Sisky: We didn’t. We thought it would be kinda hard to get the whole camera crew out to Chicago. It takes a big team to make a music video. But we found a school, it was actually the one used in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the movie. It actually kinda looks like Barrington. We had some extras in the video that looked like they would’ve been walking around the halls of Barrington or something. It was fun.
Did you do any partying?
Sisky: In high school? No, absolutely not. By the time I was in high school, I was anti-drinking, anti-smoking, all those things. Because, like I said, you’re only a kid once, and part of being a kid is the natural wonders of the world. And I think when you wise up, you realize the world isn’t exactly as sweet as you thought it was. And I guess that’s where the partying comes in, to ease the pain of reality. But when you’re a kid you can make your own reality, and for me, I didn’t need any alcohol at that point. All I needed was a couple of friends and some mischief.
Did you ever get into trouble at school?
Sisky: Oh yeah. I was detention boy.
What was the worst thing you ever did?
Sisky: I can’t say that. I did some bad stuff, but it wasn’t drinking though. I was a prankster. We used to get back at teachers we didn’t really like very much, and sometimes it got us into trouble, but I wouldn’t change the past. No regrets.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, and could only take one band mate with you, who would you take and why?
Sisky: The Butcher. Yeah, the Butcher and me just… ummm… we’re pals. We’re all pals, but in terms of being on an island, we could use our teamwork and our knowledge, lifestyle and all those things and we could start a pretty nice society. Plus, we could probably become boyfriends.
Who would you leave Baby [his beloved cat] to? It cannot be your mom, it has to be a band mate.
Sisky: Well Michal is allergic to cats. And Butcher is on the island, so I can’t leave her to him?
Sisky:I can’t bring her with?
Sisky: Mike Carden, I think I would leave Baby to. I think he’s a very sensitive and caring person. Sometimes he can be mean, but I think him and Baby are of similar temperaments, and I think they’d be good friends.
What is your favorite episode of TAITV?
Sisky: I like the one called “Beat the Heat”, that we did on Warped Tour last summer. I liked “Las Vegas Shakedown”. I like the one where we’re brainstorming about what the episode should be, and I’m wearing a taco costume at some point. Yeah I like that one. It’s kind of hard to remember all of them, there’s been so many.
Are you and the Butcher aware of the fact that you look like brothers?
Sisky: Yeah, we get mistaken for each other pretty often.
The one episode of TAITV where you and him were going to the dollar store for Christmas presents confused me. I thought they had cloned you. [laughing]
Sisky:Yeah, we get mistaken for each other a lot, but that’s good though. He’s a handsome man, so I don’t mind looking like the Butcher.
I know a couple of Metal kids that say you’re their “Guilty Pleasure.” how does that make you feel?
Sisky: It’s cool. We like some metal stuff too. I don’t think it’s too far from one perspective. We have some songs that tend to rock a little harder. I don’t think that they have anything to be guilty about. Yeah, our pants may look too tight, but we kind of picked that off of metal bands to begin with.
Yeah. My boyfriend can’t stand you guys, yet he knows every lyric.
Sisky: He just wants to hate it, which is fine. I honestly think that’s how a lot of opinions are formed, at least in this country. I think it’s not about rational opinions, it’s about the way you want people to perceive your opinion. I think that’s one of the big problems in society today. People kind of make up their minds before they really establish things.
What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you on this tour so far?
Sisky: On this tour so far? I think it’s pretty crazy just to be playing again. I had a hand surgery a couple of months ago, so it feels pretty crazy just to be able to go onstage and play again. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to again. So that’s pretty crazy. We’ve been going on roller coasters at the Six Flags shows, which has been fun. We got to go bungee jumping, so that’s pretty crazy.
Wow. I would never do that.
Sisky:it was fun.
Have you seen the movie ‘Almost Famous’?
What would you say if someone wanted to follow you on a tour like that?
Sisky: I think if the writer was as cool as that kid, and was into the music, sure. We have a lot of good friends on our bus. Why not add one more? We actually just had a writer do that with us for like three days. But yeah, I like that movie. It’s a real honest depiction of the struggles in a band to hold onto integrity and success at the same time.
Where is the weirdest place a fan has asked you to sign?
Sisky: I signed this guy’s butt one time, and then he got mad at me and called me a bad F word. I was kind of thrown off by that. I don’t really sign body parts anymore, because sometimes you have these girls who want you to sign in bad places, and I think it’s degrading. I don’t mind signing, but you gotta go home to Dad, you know. What’s he gonna say? [Laughing]
What band is your favorite to tour with?
Sisky: A lot of bands. Gym Class. They’re some of my best friends. I love each and every one of those guys in a very different way. They’re the nicest guys, and I love that. We’ve been on a lot of tours with Cobra Starship, and they’re some of our best friends. Jack’s Mannequin, Andrew is a good friend of ours. We’ve been on a lot of tours with Fall Out Boy, so they’re good friends of ours. Any band really. We like touring with new bands we’ve never toured with before, and making new friends.
What did you intend for Santi to mean?
Sisky: Nothing at all, really. It’s something to say, you know? It’s just a word. That’s kind of how we were feeling at the time back then. It doesn’t matter what it means, you just gotta say it. And not just Santi, everything. I think music is the same way. Sometimes it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s just to feel right, and have a good time.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got.
Sisky: Cool, high fives. I liked it.
Sisky notices the Santi tattoo that I have on my wrist during the high five, and I got a little extra out of him.
Sisky: Is that a real tattoo?
Yeah. I have two of yours.
Sisky: Are you serious?
Yeah. I just got it done a couple of weeks ago, and he fucked up. I gotta get it touched up.
Sisky: I think it’s cool. I’ll tell you the real story behind Santi. We always kind of said it as a pet name for each other. I guess that was one of our inside jokes we had in high school. Santi was just Santiago. After a while we started calling Mike the guitar player Santi, because he’s kind of a little bit of a bully too. And Santi was kind of like a pet name for Mike, and then it became a word that we all said. We said it to anyone and everyone. We spent two years of our lives and kept Santi a part of every day. [ END ]