Wil Francis is a man of few words. During an interview with The Inlander, he doesn’t say more than a few sentences at a time — each thoughtful and insightful, but short. Maybe it’s because he’s been interviewed a thousand times and has his responses memorized. Or perhaps it’s because, after 10 years as frontman of alternative rock/horror punk band Aiden, he’s had a lot of time to think about life as a musician.
Aiden formed in Seattle in 2003 and released its first full-length album, Our Gang’s Dark Oath, a year later, when original members Jake Davison and Angel Ibarra were still in high school.
After only two years as a band, Aiden found themselves inking a deal with famed Chicago-based label Victory Records and released a second album, Nightmare Anatomy.
The band toured with the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars, HIM, Lostprophets and Taking Back Sunday in both America and the U.K. before releasing 2007’s Conviction.
But that’s when the trouble started for Aiden.
Their next album, 2009’s Knives, marked the band’s first release as a quartet after original guitarist Jake Wambold left the band the previous year.
The band recoiled last year and did what few musicians dare to do: It released two full-length albums, Disguises and Some Kind of Hate. Francis says they just did it because they could.
“We just f---in’ had a shitload of songs that we had recorded and thought that we might as well put them out,” Francis says. “No use in keeping them.”
But just a month after the release of Disguises, Davison announced he was leaving the band. And then less than a year later, Aiden received another blow when lead guitarist Ibarra announced his departure. Four days later, the band embarked on their current tour.
“He actually quit a few months ago, but we just announced it,” Francis says. “It’s not like ‘Oh shit! He’s gone and now we have to tour in a week.’” After Ibarra told the band about his plans to leave, the remaining members of Aiden — just Francis and original bass player Nick Wiggins — began to look for a new guitarist. They found one in Ian McWilliams, a bassist whom the duo first heard in Seattle, where he was in a band that played Willy Wonka covers.
“We thought ‘Wow, we have to have that guy in our band,’” Francis says.
Though McWilliams is currently on tour with Aiden, Francis is unable to say if he will become a permanent member of the band, saying they’ll just have to see how the tour goes.
On top of everything else, the band’s nearly decade-long contract with Victory Records ended after the release of Some Kind of Hate. According to Francis though, there is no bad blood — it was time for Aiden to move on.
For the time being, finding another record label is not a huge concern for the band. Francis says they’ll spend the rest of the year writing and will return in 2013. He also plans to work on his solo project, William Control, this year.
In spite of all of the ups and downs the band has experienced, Francis is still proud of his band.
“Shit, [I’m proud of] putting out records, being on the road, sustaining this life,” he says. “You know what I’m most proud of? Not having to work a regular job for the last 10 years.”
“This is who I am; I’m a musician and an artist,” he says. “If I can have so much fun with something I’ve gone through the ringer with, then I must be doing the right thing.”
Aiden with Wednesday 13 and Modern Day Escape • Tues, Jan. 17 at 7 pm • $10 • All-ages • A Club • 416 W. Sprague Ave. • 624-3629