by Sam Robinson
Aaron Gillespie is making big waves in music at the moment. He’s released a solo worship album, been part of massive Christian act Underoath, and is currently touring Europe with Paramore. He also fronts the Almost, and I got to chat to Aaron all about their latest record, Fear Inside our Bones, as well as how his faith in Jesus affects his songwriting.
Sam: I’m here to talk to you about Fear Inside Our Bones. What was the recording process like for that album?
Aaron: All live, my friend. We did it in five days, actually… Very different set of ideals on this one for me, but we had a great time, man.
Sam: Was it intentional to do that quickly to get that raw sound we hear on the record?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah. Going into it, our producer really wanted to make it happen. But we were like ‘I don’t know, you know – this could be kind of a mess.’ And he’s like ‘No, no no, trust me. I really want to capture the sound of your band.’ He’d come to see us rehearse the songs a few times… ‘I really want people to come and feel this vibe when they’re listening to the record, and, it worked out I think pretty good.
Sam: How do you go about writing songs? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Aaron: Anything and everything. Y’know, I usually start with an ideal or something that inspires me. And I’m not much of a ‘rules’ songwriter, I kinda write what I feel when I feel. Y’know I don’t really write for a certain specific period of time. I just kind of get in and grab it and go.
Sam: Now the album… it opens with this crazy heavy song Ghost, what can you tell us about that track?
Aaron: It’s a very honest tune. It’s about life and it’s people – how we have to weigh out every circumstance and every situation. Y’know you can’t just go with something, you’ve always got to test your gut. From a musical standpoint I think it’s pretty impressive, and it really sort of showcases the record in a good way.
Sam: What can you tell us about where the album title Fear Inside Our Bones came from?
Aaron: It’s a pretty specific thing. It’s not a conceptual album, but it talks about the idea that we were all born into this world, into this pain, into trouble, and to kinda having to figure it out. Y’know… and many people have rough upbringings and live a rough life, you have a good upbringing and live a rough life, you have a bad upbringing and live a good life. There’s so many different walks of people and how they deal with their childhood and their upbringings. But, we all have one thing in common. We were all born into this world which is full of good and bad and we have to decide, y’know.
Sam: What’s the story behind I’m Down? It’s such a great bluesy song… what’s the story behind it?
Aaron: I was actually standing out in front of a studio, where I was writing with a friend, the guy Marshall Altman who produced the album. And I was standing out there, and just kind of picking on that little riff for no reason. Just staring across the parking lot… And he’s like ‘what is that?’ and I’m like ‘What is what?’, y’know he just caught me off guard, I didn’t know what he was talking about. He’s like ‘That song!’, and I’m like ‘That song? I’m just standing here!’ k’now, and he’s like ‘Let’s go inside and write it’ so we did. And I think it’s the most obvious lyric I’ve ever written, in the sense where it’s just, no tricks – it says exactly what it means.
Sam: At the start of I’m Down there’s this weird instrument – is it spoons?
Aaron: Ah, no, it’s funny – there’s hardly any editing on that, on that record. So what it is, is I was joking around as I was cutting the vocals. The vocals are the only overdub on the whole record. And it’s actually my ring hitting on the mic stand. I did it as a joke and they didn’t cut out anything – y’know what you hear is what happened. I’m like ‘C’mon! That’s terrible!’ and they’re like ‘Why would we take it out?’ ‘OK…’ (laughs)
Sam: How does your faith in Jesus affect how you live and write music in a band that is gaining popularity in the secular music world?
Aaron: In every way. Y’know, I’m honest with whoever I’m around, about my faith and what I believe, and I believe anybody who believes anything should be that way. You should be open and honest about what you believe regardless of what it is. I believe it’s the truth of the world so you gotta be honest with people about it. Y’know I – I don’t trust anyone who says they believe something but never out public about it. It doesn’t make any sense. Someone says it’s like getting married to a woman, or whoever you get married to, but you don’t tell anybody, you just hide it. In my opinion, you’re not really married, right? It’s just a piece of paper. If no-one knows about it, and you don’t introduce this person as a husband or a wife then what have you done, besides, nothing? So, yeah.
Sam: You’ve just toured the states with Relient K, was that a blast?
Aaron: So much fun. We’re good buddies with those guys. We’ve toured with them before, and I sang on their last record, so I was actually able to sing every night on stage with them. We had a great time.
Sam: And when you’re on the road, do you spend time together getting back into Scripture, to keep you grounded?
Aaron: Always. Y’know I have a group of guys I do a daily study with. So it’s something that I hold very dear, and I stand in the Word pretty good. I’m not the best at it, but I – I preach quite a bit and done a bit of other stuff too so, it makes me to be a […] which is a great thing. I have a solo worship career, so I’m in that a lot of my life, y’know?
Sam: Is there a possibility that we’ll hear a worship album from you in the near future?
Aaron: I have one that came out in 2010 here in the States. Yeah, I’m doing a new one in October here so hopefully we’ll get that one to come out in the next year.
Sam: Great! Look forward to hearing it… I want to ask you about the track Florida Sun. It seems like there’s so many memories in that track. What can you tell us about it?
Aaron: It really is just a synopsis of my life. Kind of traveling the road, climbing the ladder, and the whole thing, y’know. What’s dear to me and what I love, yeah man. It’s literally the most honest song I’ve ever written.
Sam: I was gonna ask you about the honesty on this record… It seems like you bare your soul on the lyrics a lot. Would you say that’s true?
Aaron: Yeah. Yeah, I mean – I definitely get the most honest songs that we’ve ever done. I’m so thankful for it. It really felt good to write it, for people to hear.
Sam: You’ve got a lot of fans down under, I know you’ve toured a couple of times to Australia. Do you have any plans to tour again?
Aaron: Yeah, hopefully this upcoming Summer, we’re looking into it, so we’ll see what happens.
Sam: And speaking of Australia, I was watching our national football, Aussie Rules, on TV the other day. And as they went to an ad break they were playing I’m Down.
Aaron: That’s awesome.
Sam: That was pretty cool. Have you ever seen Aussie Rules football before?
Aaron: I never have.
Sam: Well you won’t see it in the summer, cos it’ll be the off-season, but you should check it out.
Aaron: I would love to, I would love to.
Sam: It’s nothing like NFL in America.
Aaron: Is it bigger?
Sam: No, I don’t think it’s bigger, but it’s pretty big here. It’s just different to NFL.
Aaron: I’d love to see it. Maybe I’ll look it up and read about it. Read about the rules.
Sam: Now one of my favourite tracks off the album is Love is Coming Down. There’s a lot of emotion in that track, what can you tell us about that one?
Aaron: Um, it’s pretty blatant too. It’s really honest about, just like, being at the end of your rope, and you may be all the way at the end. But the best thing you can do is just throw your hands up in the air and realise that love was given for you, and it died for you, and it’s free for you, y’know? So, yeah.
Sam: If people are listening to this album, what’s the key message you want them to take away from it?
Aaron: Um, that there’s hope for them. Y’know, that we’re all born into this world and it hurts sometimes, but there is hope, and there is peace, and we have to just reach out and touch it.
Sam: And the album ends with this – I believe it’s a cover? I haven’t heard the original but I really like this song! It tells a story, what’s that cover of Lonely Boy?
Aaron: Yeah, it’s a cover of a guy named Andrew Gold. You ever – you guys ever see clips of the American show Golden Girls?
Sam: Oh yeah, it was on TV when I grew up…
Aaron: Yeah, (sings) “thank you for being a friend”, or whatever. Ah – he – he actually was a great artist, the guy who wrote that song. And he wrote this song called Lonely Boy which is a beautiful story. And the producer brought it to us and was like ‘I really want you guys to cover this song’ and I didn’t draw the similarities until we actually got into the studio to get to work on it. And it just turned out so darn good that we put it on the record.
Sam: Thanks for making such great music and – raucous music!
Aaron: We’re so thankful that you guys listen. Thank you guys so much down there.
The Almost’s Fear Inside Our Bones is out now at record stores and on iTunes.
An audio version of this interview can be downloaded via the Watercooler Radio podcast.