January 2016 sees the final curtain call for Aiden, the Seattle institution that injected the ‘00s scene with a deluge of horror punk vitriol and angst-ridden emo anthems. After fourteen years and seven full-length homages to emotional trauma and aggression, the band have called time on an era that forged both pleasure and pain for all involved. Charismatic frontman William Francis, an innovator with a heart of gold and a determination that’s helped the band through record label conflicts and an agonising hiatus, reminisced with us before they hit the stage for their last ever show in London’s Underworld.
So you’re inches away from the end of Aiden – how did that last acoustic show go?
It went great, it was really fun! I love playing acoustic things, so I thought it was a cool thing to do for the dedicated fans before we leave.
We have to ask the inevitable – is this forever or just for now?
This is forever, this is the end of Aiden for sure, 100%. We’re just moving on, times have changed.
That self-titled album was a phenomenal note to go out on. Did you know all the way through the recording process that this was the farewell?
Yes, definitely. Things ended so abruptly with Victory, we went on a weird hiatus because I was doing Wiliam Control and I was so focused on that, it all fell into place. Going into this final album, I knew I wanted to do one last album and one last tour to say goodbye to it all the right way.
How hard was it coming up with this end-of-the-line setlist?
It wasn’t very difficult, we’re playing songs that I really like and Nightmare Anatomy pretty much fills the entire set up. I thought it was a cool thing to do, play a record we made 10 years ago and go out on it. I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll put Aiden into William Control sets either.
What’s one song you would’ve loved the chance to play?
‘Crusifiction’ from ‘Knives’ because I love it so much.
If you could relive one Aiden era, say to re-record or relive the energy, which would you go back to?
Probably ‘Conviction’ era, but I’d probably just not make that album in the first place and do Knives instead.
How much has touring changed for you over the years as Aiden?
I’ve become better at it! I know where to eat and what not to eat! I know what hotels to stay in and which ones to avoid. It’s just easier to do these days. The Aiden guys are the ones with me for William Control too, so I won’t miss them much when this is over.
Haven’t grown out of the touristy side of things yet?
Yeah, I really have. In the first few years of touring, we just saw venues and basements. After the first five touring years passed, I decided I should probably see the world at the same time, so I did the tourist bit of it for a few years. But now I’m back to seeing basements and venues because I’ve seen it all! How many times can you go up to Big Ben and take a picture? Let’s not do the Jack the Ripper tour again.
You know how much of an impact you’ve made on the scene in general, so how does it feel looking back on everything you’ve accomplished as the end of an era?
I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and closure now we’ve done this tour. I’m glad there are still bands out there that are putting on makeup, making records and touring and having a good time… I love those kinds of bands and I always have.
That crowd out there for you tonight is so diverse, that must be amazing.
Yeah, they’re all grown-ups now!
Aiden has always been a beautiful vehicle for emotion, both for the fans and yourself, so where’s that energy going now Aiden’s over?
Straight into William Control and my writing – I want to finish up my Revelator books. I’ll always find some way to express myself, believe me, I’ve always been able to figure a way of doing it.
Looking back on the years, how much have your experiences in Aiden taught you about life and the music industry?
Everything, absolutely everything. I’ve learned everything that I need to know about the music industry, I’ve learned how hard an artist can get fucked without Vaseline. I’ve learned how to make it work in an industry that’s dying because people don’t pay for records anymore. I’ve learned a lot.
Did you find it hard to end the band considering how many people and how much of a diverse fan base were affected by it?
Not really, it wasn’t much of a hard decision because it’s just time for Aiden now. It’s time to close the chapter and finish this episode of my life, it’s been such an important part of who I am as a person. I just feel the need at this point in my life at 34 years old that it’s time to go, it’s time to move on.