By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Although "American Idol" winner Lee DeWyze has been grabbing all the headlines lately, there is another Chicago area act that continues to make waves - The Academy Is.
The Hoffman Estates band is on a tour with KISS, and will open for the legendary band Friday at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. The show starts at 6:30 p.m., and tickets range from $35.50 to $149.50, available at www.livenation.com.
I had the chance to talk to bassist Adam Siska, who grew up in Fox River Grove but now calls Oak Park home, about the tour.
Q - How did the whole KISS tour come about?
You know, we're not really sure. We just kind of got the call asking if we would want to be a part of it. I think for any rock band, that's a pretty quick answer.
Just to be on the same bill as KISS is amazing. We get out and hear and see what they do every night, and it's been equally as amazing. We had the chance to meet them, and they've just been incredibly nice people. They've given us words of encouragement.
Q - Would you consider KISS to be one of the band's influences?
Sure, yeah. We're influenced by a lot of artists that you maybe you wouldn't hear in our songs. I'm influenced by Hank Williams, but I wouldn't say that anything we've done sounds like Hank Williams. It's more in the spirit of those artists that we're influenced.
Music was changed by bands like KISS. Not just the music, but the entire package. I've noticed at these shows that going to a KISS concert is like going to an event, almost like a boxing match or the circus. Growing up, I always went to shows that were very stripped down, like Neil Young or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, stuff like that. I've never seen a concert with so many explosions and stuff. Personally, I think it's really cool.
Q - I'm sure on the tour you've seen people dressed up like KISS. Is anybody dressing up like you guys?
Just us. We're undercover. We're like KISS when they had no makeup on during the '80s. I don't know what one would wear if they would want to dress up like us. I've always considered like going as Morrissey or something for Halloween, but I think people would probably think I was Tom Cruise.
Q - How long is your set?
Our set is 45 minutes. We're billed as direct support. We come out and we don't really talk much. We realize why these people are here, which is to see KISS. We just want to do our best to win them over, and get them ready for the self-proclaimed hottest show on Earth, and it really is the hottest show on Earth.
We've actually had an incredible response from the crowd so far on this tour. It's more than what we expected. KISS has been a band for 35 years and we've been a band for eight years. We've really felt not only respect from the audience, we've gotten really positive feedback. In Boston, we got a standing ovation.
Q - You've been working on your fourth album. Are you guys going to test any of your new songs Friday night?
I don't think so. We're not ready to put anything to bed yet. We're trying out different ideas, how to dress them up, if you will. We are incorporating some new instruments and all sorts of things on the new record, so we don't want to come in and sort of jump the gun.
On the tour, we are just trying to show people what we've done, as opposed to what we are going to do. After the tour is over, we are going to work on the new record, finish everything up, and then we will come back out on tour. We'd probably do something at the Metro in Chicago for the release.
Of course your last album, "Fast Times At Barrington High," earned rave reviews. Was it kind of daunting trying to follow up the album?
Not really. We just felt really free that this was our fourth record. We kind of feel like we can do anything we want. We almost feel like we're making our first record right now. We just feel creatively free right now where we can almost reinvent ourselves.
Good reviews are great, but all that matters to us is that we can write a good record, and hopefully critics and fans will like the record.
What's your favorite Chicago venue to play?
I would say the Metro. There's this magic in that place. There's the significance of all the bands that have played there. There's just something great about playing there. That's where I first started going to see concerts. When I'm up there, I feel like it's home.
Who do you remember seeing at the Metro?
Smashing Pumpkins I saw a few times. There's been so many shows. I saw Beck and Cake together. I still remember Beck coming out with a carton of milk and gulping it and spitting it all over the crowd. I ended up thinking that was cool and I wanted to get a band myself and do weird stuff like that.
Have you been able to replicate that?
I'm not lactose intolerant or anything, but the thought of being on stage and drinking milk doesn't sound that pleasing together. It was pretty wild and exotic just seeing Beck do that.