When most of us were first starting school, Aaron Gillespie was
learning to play musical instruments and heading off on tour with his
mother. By the age of 14, Gillespie was asked to join the Christian
metalcore band Underoath and later evolved into a vocalist on the
project. While Underoath was starting to sell gold records, Aaron
Gillespie went off in search of more. That's when he started The
Almost! Gillespie wrote every note and performed almost every part on
their debut album Southern Weather, which spawned the band's first
breakthrough single 'Say This Sooner.' Last week, Aaron gave us a call
and wanted to talk about the genesis of the band, pulling double duty
with two acts, and what he does away from the music scene.
Juicy Bands: Can you talk about the genesis of The Almost? Did you sit down one day and say, "I need to do a side project?"
AARON GILLESPIE: I guess it was kind of like that. I was
writing some tunes and they weren't really fitting Underoath's format,
not in a bad way, just at the time it's what it was. I was in the
studio with Underoath doing Define the Great Line and usually between
playing drums and singing, there's like 5 or 6 weeks where I sit around
and do nothing. Last year I decided to write a record and work out a
little bit and take better care of myself. That's sort of where the
songs came from. They weren't written over a long period of time, they
were written all at once. Then I recorded them last year, and here we
Juicy Bands : How did you choose the style and sound? Was it
a conscious effort to do something that was a departure from Underoath,
or was that just how it worked out?
AARON: Yeah. I mean, I can't
scream, and I knew it was going to be a rock band. I wanted to make
some rock & roll tunes, just general rock & roll tunes. I don't
think I sat down and said, "It's going to be this type of tune or that
type of tune," I just wrote what was inside. I knew it would be
different than Underoath, but I wasn't making any conscious effort to
make it Underoath's little sister or something like that.
Juicy Bands: Having two bands out there, do you feel like you're playing favorites, like a preference of one over the other?
AARON: I think that's a loaded question. I get asked that
question probably four or five times a day, and I think people want to
hear some sort of drama or some sort of animosity I might have towards
one band or the other, but I love them both in different ways.
Underoath's my heart. It's a band that I'll always be in and a band
I've been in for close to a decade now. That's definitely what I do.
The Almost leaves me free. The next album could be polka, who knows.
That's the beauty of The Almost. That it is what I want to be, which is
Juicy Bands: How is your mindset different when you sit down to play in each band?
AARON: The Almost comes out of late
night - acoustic guitar - me alone or a couple other band members just
hanging out. Underoath is like a bunch of dudes getting together that
know each other very well, and writing as a band. We've just started
writing this week, so that's kind of exciting. It's a totally different
vibe, so your body and soul and mind just initially does a different
thing when I'm with Underoath.
Juicy Bands:Is it awkward to do press for one band when you're working with the other band?
AARON: Right now, I'm sitting in my
backyard. I don't really mix and match, to be honest with you. If I'm
on tour with Underoath, I don't do much Almost. I'll do a phoner here
or there, but I don't do anything serious. We did the Taking Back
Sunday tour this year, and I did a lot of press and it was kind of a
pain. It was something I had to do because it was all radio stations
and the timeframe had to be what it was. But when I'm with Underoath, I
get in Underoath mode. It's like the whole Maynard [James Keenan]
thing, not that I'm anything like Maynard, but when he was doing the A
Perfect Circle thing when Tool was on, he was not on A Perfect Circle.
There wasn't even an inkling of a question. It's sort of the same
Juicy Bands: Since you're sitting in your back yard, what's a rockstar like you do with your days off?
AARON: [laughs] I got married last year, so I hang out. I
just bought a house in my home town, and it's really awesome. I'm super
happy about it. I've been doing a lot of stuff like that. I have to
pressure wash the area by the pool, and I'm just hanging out with my
family. I've got three dogs and I'm living my life. I mean, I'm pretty
much always playing music in some way or another, but yeah, just
hanging out. I'm having a big party tomorrow afternoon. My birthday was
in July. I was obviously on Warped, so I didn't get to have much of a
brithday, so my wife is throwing me a huge house-warming/birthday party
for me tomorrow. So, she's cleaning the house and we've had painters
here for two weeks, which is kind of a pain. I'm trying to edge them
out of the house, but they're finishing up today.
Juicy Bands: In Underoath, you do drums and lead vocals. When recording every part for The Almost, did you know the instruments already?
AARON: I've played guitar since I was a freshman in high
school. I played bass on the record, which I hated, because I don't
really enjoy playing bass. I had to kind of teach myself how to play
bass, but if you can play guitar, you can play bass. There's just less
strings. Playing bass, I don't know, I just dove into it. It was really
weird, that situation. Recording that record, I don't remember much of
it because it was such a surreal experience that I don't remember a lot
of it. I was just going for it.
Juicy Bands: You're very talented, being in 2 bands and all. When you started The Almost, what was it like to write every part of the album?
AARON: To be honest with you, it
all just fell into place, it all came to me. I wrote all the songs on
guitar first, then wrote all the lyrics. I had all the melodies done
and then I just proceeded to play all the instruments - drums first.
You know, the standard way you do a rock & roll recording. Juicy Bands: When are you most creative, when you're on tour, in the studio, or at home?
AARON: It comes in waves. On tour
I'm super-creative because there's nothing else for me to do. The life
of a dude on tour isn't what people think it is, I don't think. Half
the time you just sit around a lot. You wait for your 45 minutes a
night, so I would say on tour... but that's a hard question, because it
Juicy Bands:Are you able to schedule a time to write and come up with one thing at that time?
AARON: As far as me and Time and Spencer from Underoath,
we'll schedule days and we'll all come together and write, but it seems
like the best stuff happens - most of Define the Great Line was written
overseas. We were on a headlining tour all over Europe and we wrote
most of it over there. It takes its time.
Juicy Bands: What's it like to start out in the music world at such a young age?
AARON: I don't know anything else. I mean, I'm not good at
anything else. I never really think about what it's like to not play
music. Maybe I should sometimes, it could help, but I just don't. I
don't know anything else. As early as I can remember, I was playing
drums in church or doing something with my mother. My mother toured my
entire life, so I've been on tour since I was four years old, in some
form or another, like doing weekends with my mom.
Juicy Bands: Do you feel that's changed as you've matured and now that you're married?
AARON: Yeah, totally. You don't
write about the same stuff that you used to. When you're 16 years old,
you definitely have a different mindset than you do when you're 25 and
married and at home. But it's the same in a lot of ways, you know. You
always feel apprehensive about what you're writing down and you always
feel like it hurts when it doesn't feel like people are accepting it.
It's weird. Being a musician is weird, man, especially these days. It's
here today, gone tomorrow. These days, I know the dichotomy of life. In
five years, this ain't gonna be cool any more, you know what I mean? It
will be onto the next thing. We could do a tour in a year and bomb. You
never know these days, because it's here today, gone tomorrow. That's
the way the music business is right now. It makes me apprehensive, but
at the same time, it keeps you on your toes. It keeps you wanting to
evolve and do better.
Juicy Bands: Does the side project allow you to evolve in different ways? Is that an advantage for you?
AARON: I hope. We'll find out. If we're having this conversation again in a year, you'll know we've done alright.
Juicy Bands: You've put out a lot of music with Underoath. What was it like when you put out 'Say This Sooner?'
AARON: It felt real good, man. I
never thought I would be having a radio single and a big push like
that. It feels good, man. I definitely don't feel so worried and I feel
happy about it.
Juicy Bands: Where did the concept for the music video come from? Was that your concept?
AARON: Not at all, actually. That was all Shane Drake.
Juicy Bands: What was your first reaction when it hit MTV?
AARON: [laughs] I've honestly never
seen it on TV before. I've seen it, but I've never seen it on TV. It
got played a lot on both MTVs - standard and 2 - but I've never seen it
on either one. Juicy Bands: You've only released one single so far. Is there another one coming? AARON: We're doing a new single in three weeks. It's the title track. The video premieres on the 28th or 31st, I don't remember. Juicy Bands: How about the 'Pig' clothing line. Where did that come about?
AARON: Spencer [Chamberlain] gave
me the nickname Pig five years ago. Spencer's the lead singer in
Underoath, and I used to weigh like 50 more pounds than I do now. I
don't think anyone saw me when I looked liked that. He used to call me
pig, he still does to this day. But my wife and I talked a year and a
half ago about starting a clothing line. This is before we were
married. We decided just to do it this year. We had a little bit of
extra money laying around this year, and we had an opportunity to go to
a print shop and get a bunch of wholesalers to make a bulk purchase and
we did it. It's really awesome. Not that anyone would care, but it's
going really, really awesome. It makes me feel good. Juicy Bands: Well we really
appriciated your interview and both of your bands definitely know how
to rock! We hope to be hearing more from you in the future and keep
AARON: Thanks for the interview, it
was a lot of fun and you'll be hearing more from me in the future no
doubt...so be listening because i'm working hard and be expecting a new
album in the coming year and don't you worry, I'll be back to talk all
about it. [Laughs] You can count on that!