Emo stalwart The Academy Is… returns to Iowa City

Originally published in The Daily Iowan 10/01/2009

The Academy Is … bassist Adam Siska’s last visit to Iowa City was painful.

Literally.

He cut his right index finger on a broken glass bottle last spring while at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. The accident put him in the hospital, and forced him to rent a car and go home for four months while the rest of the band continued the tour.

Siska and the band will return for a show at the Picador at 6 p.m. today, with You Me at Six and the Secret Handshake opening. Tickets are $17.

Siska said he is excited about coming back to Iowa City, partially because of the residents. “I was surprised at how many beautiful women are walking around Iowa City,” he said.

The group played an all-acoustic set in April that showcased Siska’s talent on two songs. He admits that although acoustic shows allow the band to showcase its music in a different way, he looks forward to performing an electric set.

“I prefer the energy of electric shows,” he said. “An acoustic bass doesn’t sound as good.” Siska — a native of Barrington, Ill. — said his fans’ energy helped the band rise above other pop-punk groups that came out of the Chicago suburbs, such as The Audition and The Junior Varsity.

“There was something really special happening in the Chicago suburbs from 2001 to 2004,” he said. “It was like Seattle in the ’90s or San Francisco in the ’60s.”

The perceived lack of music opportunities in the Midwest — as opposed to larger coastal markets — played a large part in attracting fans who were “really behind the bands,” he said, and the majority of those fans were teenagers.

“It’s an age where you look to music to get away,” he said. “When you’re trapped in the Midwest, music takes you somewhere else.”
However, as the Academy attracts older fans, the 21-year-old Siska said his band has to work harder to connect with new audiences while still keeping original fans interested.

“As you grow, things change, and it’s hard to relate to where you were in high school,” he said. “As you get older, music becomes secondary.”
The band tries to move forward through evolution in its music. The band’s second album, Santi, featured a more alternative-rock style as opposed to the straightforward pop-punk sound of the first album, Almost Here.

“They’ve been collecting pieces of a puzzle,” Siska said, “We still haven’t made our best record.”

The band members plan to do a lot of writing for a new album while on the road. In the meantime, fans can enjoy their new EP, Lost in Pacific Time. The disc has five brand-new tracks and is available only through digital distribution. It was recorded on the band’s tour bus, and its release was a surprise for fans. The title is taken from a line in the band’s song “New York (Saint in the City),” which refers to the effects from touring across the country.

“It’s become a daily part of touring to be in a new time zone,” Siska said.

A version of the EP is also available on the band’s website as well as at its shows, but not in stores. Siska said he and his bandmates decided the record was better suited for a digital release.

“It wasn’t something we needed to put in stores,” he said. “We didn’t want it to feel like you’ve seen months of advertising.”

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