The PV Q&A: Aaron Gillespie On How the Almost's New Album Was Born Into Fear

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Interview by Jonah Bayer

The Almost frontman Aaron Gillespie isn't the type of guy who can write a song when he isn't feeling inspired, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that it's been, uh, almost four years since the Almost released their last album Monster Monster.

That's not to say that Gillespie isn’t hardworking—he's left the hugely successful metalcore act Underoath (of which he was the only remaining original member), released the solo album Anthem Song, recovered from emergency thumb surgery and had his first child with his wife.

All of these experiences inform the Almost's third album, Fear Inside Our Bones, which combines the arena rock hooks of the Foo Fighters with a Southern rock sensibility that's true to Gillespie's Florida roots. We caught up with Gillespie to learn more about the album and the transformative moment that catalyzed it.

PureVolume: What was the recording process for Fear Inside Our Bones like?
Aaron Gillespie: It was totally live, everyone was in the same room. We went to Nashville and rehearsed for a week and then we did the whole thing in five days, and the vocals were the only overdubs. We were just trying to make it feel different than the last couple of records we did—and it's honestly different than anything I've ever been a part of. We weren't doing drum editing or stuff like that, so we played every song over and over again for a week just to make sure it was super tight.
PV: Did you feel like you were able to experiment with more elements like instrumentation and arrangements on this album?
AG: Yeah, it just felt freer. I think people can tell when something is real and something isn't. I always have this nagging feeling in the back of my head going, 'Will people like this?'

It's like this curse as a musician where you can sometimes second-guess yourself. With this album I was like, 'Let's just write this record and see what happens.' I think as scatterbrained and overpopulated as the world is right now, it just needs honesty and I wanted the music to be fresh and honest even if the music isn't some crazy, avant-garde thing.
PV: It's been almost four years since the last record. Why did it take so long to get this one completed?
AG: I've just been busy, then I left Underoath and put this solo record out. I also felt like I needed that much time to put these songs together. I just felt like I needed to live that much life.

A few times I thought about doing an Almost record and we were doing a lot of fly-out [shows] at the time but I never wanted to force it. I think as a writer you just have to be in the right headspace, and I didn't want to do it unless I felt my heart and head were both ready.

PV: You sing, "I’m down, don't count me out" on track "I'm Down." Do you still feel like an underdog for leaving a successful band to pursue your own project?
AG: No, I don't think it's that. I think that song is directed at the idea of how it seems like today more than ever music itself is so divided. You have popular music and you have everything else—and everything else is starting to bleed into the popular music scene with indie rock becoming the new pop punk.

I'm not really an indie type, I'm not going to go write a Gotye record because that's not my thing and that’s not what I do. So with that song, I'm saying that I might be down in terms of the music industry but I'm not out.
PV: Additionally, a song like "Fear Inside Our Bones" is darker than what fans might expect from you.
AG: It's darker than I expected. [Laughs.] My wife and I have been married for seven years and we had our first child in November of 2011 and it was crazy because she was in labor for like 30 hours. Poor woman—she's fine and the kid's fine but after all that she had a Caesarean section, so you're in this operating room and they tie your wife down. It was crazy, the most graphic thing I've ever been a part of—it was disgusting. So then they pull my son out and they put him on this table, and they have all these doctors there to inspect him. While this is happening, I watched [my son] take his first breath.

It's not like he comes out the birth canal and they're freaking out, they pull him out and he's asleep because they just rip him out of there—there's no labor. So he's on this table, and wakes up and takes a big breath and it's air and not fluid, and his face was like, 'What in the hell just happened to me?'

The look on his face was the most painful look I've ever seen on any person's face, because he went from being in this safe place where he was very acclimated to what was happening to being out in the open in a 40-degree operating room buck naked. It was this fearful pain, that's the best way to describe it, and that moment really prompted this entire record.

We're all born into that fear and it's so built into us. We live our entire lives trying to make things work and trying to be whole and trying to be completed. We're born into this fear, we're born into this place where we're like, 'Where am I? What am I doing? How do I exist?' This album wasn't meant to be dark but it turned out that way because that's a dark place for a lot of people.
PV: Speaking of surgery how is your thumb doing?
AG: It was a weird process for a little while, but I'm finally a healthy dude now that I'm almost 30. I feel great—I actually played the final Underoath show Saturday night, so it wasn't painful or anything and I'm thankful for that.
PV: Playing that show must have been a surreal experience for you.
AG: It was freaking' crazy, man. It was the end of an era, so it was like 5,000 people in our hometown. It was massive. It was madness. There were people from 10 different countries there, like Russia and Brazil. It was a crazy night on almost every level.
PV: The Almost started as your own project. How collaborative is the group these days?
AG: For a while, it was just me—at least on the first record—but it's an absolute band now. Everyone has their own thing, everyone is an equal partner. It had to be that way because I couldn't trust myself to do my own thing all the time.

I felt like every time I would write or record something on my own, I would look over my shoulder for someone to tell me if it sucked or if it was great. Now I have those people, and I trust them. I've known two of the guys since right when I joined Underoath back in the day, so it's a family thing...and it's a good thing.

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