Despite only a few months having elapsed since he produced Aiden’s final album and went on their final tour, William Francis is still as busy as ever working on many new and exciting things for his William Control project. We had a chat with him about his recently announced film trilogy, beginning with Revelator: The Neuromancer, and other future plans.
Firstly, for anyone who’s less familiar with your work on this project, could you give us a brief background to the creation of William Control?
Let’s see, in 2007 I was playing in Aiden, we had been touring for a few years at that point and we were all kind of burned out. We’d been on the road constantly and there was a lot of turmoil in the band, I think that we were just stressed from being in a bubble for years, and at the time I was dating this really terrible woman that just made me totally miserable. I started writing some songs that didn’t fit with Aiden, they were just a different genre. I didn’t really know what kind of genre it was but I knew that it didn’t fit with what I was doing at the time, so I told the label I was with that I wanted to do a solo project and they gave me some money to make a record. Things came to a head in 2008 when we kicked our guitar player out and I broke up with this chick, I left America and went to England and wrote that first album Hate Culture.
And what was the initial storyline with that album?
Hate Culture is a concept album about a protagonist who is fed up with life and decides he’s going to go overseas and have one last shebang before he decides he’s going to kill himself. So that album focuses on that one night of debauchery, drug abuse, and all that stuff.
So presumably the story of William Control is quite personal to you, how do you feel about it being made into films? Do you think that your vision of it is going to be truly represented on the screen?
Yeah absolutely. The director that wrote the screenplay, this guy Jacob Johnston, him and I are both on the same page. We’ll just say that. I know that a lot of writers that get movies made end up fighting with directors or screenwriters about the vision they want; I feel as if Jacob really took what I wanted visually when writing the book and translated it into something that you could watch on the screen.
You feel like it’s all in safe hands then?
Oh definitely he’s more than capable.
Is it going to be a similar genre to the books you’ve written?
Oh yeah for sure, it’s definitely a dark thriller. Obviously we have to tone down some of the erotica. The book is rather graphic, for some commercial appeal we’ve got to tone that stuff down. It’s still going to be the same story, but it’s not going to be exploitive, it focuses a lot more on the characters and their relationship.
Production starts later this year, do you have any idea of the timescale for when it’s going to be released?
I don’t know any of that stuff. I have no idea. It’s just going to take as long as it takes.
You’ve had other big announcements recently, you announced that you’ve bought all of the William Control music rights back from Victory Records, is the timing of this announcement related to that one?
No, just a lot of things are happening at once. It’s just a happy coincidence.
Do you feel like you’ve got more creative freedom now you own everything that’s under the William Control label?
Absolutely. Yeah, I’m free to do whatever I want. Vinyl, I can put out singles, I can re-release stuff, I can make box sets. Yeah I can do whatever the fuck I want now.
The project has been going for a number of years now, when did you actually start to visualise it being turned into films? Was it in your mind while you were writing the books?
No, when I wrote the first book I was just inspired to write a story. I’m not a novelist or anything, you know, that’s not what I do for a living, and I wrote it as cinematically as possible, as if I was watching it.
You’ve said previously that the albums are written similarly.
Yeah exactly, I’ve always wanted to create a visual cinemascape rather than just three minute pop songs that are over and done. I’ve always wanted the albums to play like a story from beginning to end.
So do you think the storyline has always played like a film in your head and this is just finally making that a reality?
What has the fan response been like to this?
It seems pretty positive, I haven’t seen any negative stuff about it. Seems like people that have read the book are interested in seeing the movie.
The films are going to be based on the same narrative as the albums you’ve produced, do you think you’re going to be using or incorporating any of the music you’ve already created for William Control or is it going to have an entirely new score?
Who knows. I might make new music, I might use some of the old stuff. I don’t know, honestly. I’ll have to see the footage and see what fits.
We’ve already gained quite a lot of insight into the character of William Control, do you think that turning the story into films will give us any extra insights which you’ve not managed to fully express yet?
You know, that’s probably a question for the director. Whatever the actors bring to the table. Either way I’m pretty excited to see what happens. I have this vision of what it should look like, and how grimy it should be, and we’ll see what happens.
You’ve said that you’re going to produce three films, one for each book. Have you finished the third book yet?
I have yeah, it’s finished.
Do you know when that will be published?
It’s probably going to come out in a couple of months, August maybe.
Any idea what it’s going to be called yet?
It’ll probably be whatever I title the last album.
Is that album going to tie in with the third book, as the end of the narrative?
Exactly, yes. Absolutely.
Are you satisfied with how you’ve ended the story?
Yeah I am actually. I’m pretty excited about how it ends, I think people are going to like it. I left it open, it’s kind of an ending but it’s kind of a beginning as well. So it’s pretty interpretive, you can take from it what you will.
Once the Revelator narrative has been fully established do you think you’re going to carry on working on things revolving around the William Control character, or do you think you’ll move onto a new narrative?
Shit I don’t know, I haven’t even thought that far ahead. We’ll see what happens.
Do you think you’re going to work on taking William Control into any further forms of media, now you already have music, books and films?
I don’t really have any idea, what more can you do besides go to the big screen. I’m not sure if there’s anything else after that.
That’s all my questions, is there anything else you think we should add?
I don’t think so, I think you covered it all; new record, new book, new movie.
Thanks for speaking to us, we’ll see you on the mini tour you’ve just announced for next month in the UK!
Yeah, some acoustic shows, it should be fun!
Catch William Control playing in the UK between the 7th-11th July. Tickets are available on controlmerch.com.