What do you do when the last five years of your life have been nothing but rotten, youve written an album full of electronic songs that certainly wont fit in with your current bands sound, and youre looking for a way to express all the twisted, depraved things that race through your mind from time to time?
If youre Will wiL Francis, frontman for the punk band Aiden, you create a devilish omnisexual alter ego named William Control, record an album, Hate Culture, that draws comparisons to Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Marilyn Manson, and agree to play Evening Service, the gay holiday sex party thrown by the New York king of queer sleaze, Daniel Nardicio.
Out caught up with wiL to chat about the queer fans who inspire him, William Controls fondness for tying people up, and the craziest five minutes of his life spent -- of course -- in an S&M club in London.
Out: Lots of artists have had alter egos -- David Bowie had Ziggy Stardust, Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines, Beyonc has Sasha Fierce -- and now theres William Control. Why put out a record as him and not just as Will wiL Francis?
Will wiL Francis: I feel like there are a lot of things that -- thats such a difficult question. There are so many things that are inherently wrong with myself. With my psyche, I guess. There are about 17 different versions of myself running around at any given time. William Control just came out. He just came out like a sixth finger -- he just grew out.
Who was most influential in making this album?
I had all these different songs that I just started writing that just didnt work for Aiden because they were all electronic. I just said, Fuck it. It was made purely out of hatred and disappointment. Theres nobody who was influential. It was me going, Fuck everything. Fuck the world. Here we go, lets make this record.
So it was a kind of bloodletting?
Totally. At the time of making this album, it was a pretty dark time in my life. Id been on tour for five years consistently without a break, I was engaged to be married and then we broke up. We kicked our guitar player out of our band. My life was in turmoil. Its like everything just fell apart and thats what came out.
It sounds like this album was a lifesaver of sorts -- but theres some pretty rough stuff on it. I have to imagine youve met a considerable amount of resistance.
Totally. People email me everyday on MySpace or wherever and say I shouldnt be saying these things, and that Im fucked up and twisted and that they hate me. Which was really the goal. I didnt write this record and think, All right -- now Im going to sell a million albums and Im going to become a rock star! I wrote this album thinking, Fuck everybody! I hope they hate it and I hope that I fucking push buttons, and fuck them -- everybody!
What was the reaction from the record company? Fuck everybody! isnt exactly the easiest theme to market.
The label responded more generously than I thought they would. I thought, Theyre going to fucking hate this shit! But they were really into it.
What about the die hard Aiden fans?
Theyve really reacted a lot better than I thought they would. I really thought none of the Aiden fans would like this because of how drastically different it is -- there arent any crunchy guitars on it, there arent any breakdown drums, there arent any sing-along punk parts. Its just an electronic album about hating everything. [Laughs] Its been kind of a strange thing where kids -- especially kids whove been into Aiden for a long time -- are going Wow! Your band has influenced me to go and discover older bands that Ive heard you talk about in interviews, like New Order and Joy Division and Depeche Mode, and now Im really into them and I really like this new project.
William Control is omnisexual. What does that mean? And how do you -- wiL -- define your own sexuality?
He is of the fourth sex.
It doesnt matter who or what it is -- an alien, a woman, a man, a dog -- it really doesnt matter. Personally, Im straight. But I fully support the gays and I have kind of a really large queer following with my band. Most of the fans that come to the show are like the misfit, outside kids. But as our fan base grows, more of the popular kids at school and the kids that used to be beat me up are coming. And all of a sudden you have the weird, misfit kids mixing with these jock, preppy popular kids. And then you have the queer kids who are a minority inside of a minority. All of a sudden youre playing in a room full of rejects and popular kids, and then you have the queer kids who get beat up by the popular kids at the shows! It takes a lot of strength for these kids to come out and be themselves and be like, Fuck you! Im gay and here I am and I dont care what you think! Its really quite inspirational.
Why did you decide to make William Control of the fourth sex? Its pretty forward thinking for a straight guy.
First off -- I feel like being in a band these days a lot of it has to do with being popular and girls saying, Oh hes so hot! Oh I like his music because I want to fuck him! That's what defines bands and what helps certain bands get bigger than they actually should be -- how many girls want to fuck the singer. When I did this project, I didnt want to deal with any of that. I didnt want people to like this music because they wanted to have sex with me. I wanted people to like this music because it affects them in a way that only music can -- by the way it hits your heart. So I guess I got frustrated with the fact that people are like, Hes so hot! I just want to play music. I dont want to be defined by my looks or the size of my cock. I just want people to like the music because its good.
Does William Control prefer to tie people up, get tied up, or tie himself up?
Tie people up.
So hes the dom, top, sadist type?
Totally. The Marquis de Sade is one of his heroes.
Did you sit down and conceptualize all of this? These are his heroes, he likes to eat this for breakfast... Is he a fully realized person in your mind?
Not on a 100 percent level. I think that hes touched and tasted but hasnt really -- hes only been around for a few months.
But when you go on stage, wiL disappears and William takes over?
Most definitely. In my personal life Im fully into that shit. But William Control is just all about it. When I wrote the album, I spent about a week and a half in London going to sex clubs and underground fetish deals. I stumbled upon this place called The Whipping House, and it was probably the most insane night of my life.
I need details.
Ill tell you this. The first five minutes of me showing up to this place, I walked in and checked my coat and that took about three minutes. Then I walked into the dungeon where a girl was fully strapped up, getting beat up, and she was bloody and there was a dude in the corner having sex with another guy -- right in the corner! And that was just the first five minutes!
William Control will perform at Daniel Nardicio's Evening Service party on December 13 at The Woodshop, 24 Ninth Ave., New York City. Hate Culture (Victory Records) is now available in stores and online.