Led by Aaron Gillespie, The Almost have been a powerful force since they hit the scene in 2007. Having released their third and most accomplished record to date, ‘Fear Inside Our Bones’ last year, the band is set to tour our shores next month. Gillespie took some time out to chat to us about the visit.
Hey Aaron, how are you doing this morning?
I’m really good man, how are you?
I’m good man, it’s good to be able to speak to you. How have the first few months of 2014 been treating you so far?
Really good, man. Really busy, but I absolutely can’t complain. It’s been really good.
Last year you guys released ‘Fear Inside Our Bones.’ It’s really easy to get lost in the ‘newness’ of an album. 12 months on, how do you view the material now it’s been out for a while?
I think it’s still pretty strong. When you’re writing music, I think you just need to trust in that moment when you’re writing a song or a group of songs, and trust that it’ll hold up, y’know? I think you can’t really overdo yourself when it comes to that. I believe it to be the best thing that we could do at the time, and I feel pretty good about it.
How do you think the album transitioned from the studio to the stage?
The way we recorded was all live. No multi-tracking. So the transition was really simple. Every other album I’ve done we’ve had to go back and learn all the parts together again and all of that, and there’s weeks of rehearsals before you take a song onto the stage. This wasn’t like that, because we did it all there. It was very much a really easy transition.
I’d like to talk to you about the choice to record live rather than recording each instrument individually – what kind of challenges did this present to you guys in the studio?
You’ve gotta really know what you’re doing. I think it meant that we had to be a lot more prepared for it, to be honest. We had to spend more time having it down before we went in rather than doing a whole ‘we’ve got this, and this, and this – let’s go in and see what happens.’
How did recording everything together at once change the dynamic between the band in studio?
I think in every way. I feel like this is the way it’s intended to be done. Technology has just kind of given us a ‘buffer’. I really believe that this is the way music was original captured, and I think it’s the way it’s meant to be done. I think it’s a really cool way of doing things.
In your words, what do you think recording the songs live added to the album?
Just a sort of rawness, in the best sense of the word. For example, there’s all this software you can buy, where it’s like, ‘Abbey Road Plugin’, or ‘Glyn Johns Plugin’. The thing about both of those though is that there was no fancy technology there. All it was, was four tracks, a tape machine, a couple compressors and a good microphone. That’s what state-of-the-art was in the 60s and 70s, and I think what we face today is overcomplicating things, and convoluting it. When you go out and make a record as simple a you can, the songs really have to be great. I think we need to remember as artists that you can put a thousand tracks on an album and it won’t make it better than a song with five or six tracks on it.
After having recorded the album live in studio, would you ever want to return to the more ‘traditional’ method of recording instruments individually?
You know, I couldn’t really say. Every project and every record is individual, and you have to look at that way. Each thing is it’s own thing. I’m not a musician that pre-determines something eight months down the road. I don’t go ‘my next record is gonna feel this way,’ I just see what happens.
Moving on from that, the last time The Almost toured Australia was in 2011 as part of a national tour organised by Youth Alive, including a festival in Sydney. What was that tour like?
Oh, I loved it! Australia’s a great place for Americans to tour, because it’s not as ‘foreign’. When I first went there like, ten years ago, I thought it was gonna be the most foreign thing, because it was a 30 hour flight. Once I got there, I realised how ‘not much different’ it was to America. It’s different, but there’s no culture shock. We love it there and we love coming there.
Youth Alive is well known as a religious organisation, with a strong religious element to their events, and you guys have been known to play similar events back over in the US and in other countries. What are the differences between playing an event like that and playing on a tour or a festival that has no religious focus?
I treat everyone the same way wherever we go. For me, it’s just obvious differences. Really, we try to put on the same show everywhere we go. I think anything else is just gross. I try to be the same guy, no matter what outlet I’m in.
You guys are coming down to Australia to play some headline shows as well as a stop at Easterfest in Toowoomba in less than a month. It’s been almost three years, how do you feel about returning down under?
I’m pretty excited about it. I never know what to expect, and I don’t pay attention to ticket sales, so it’s just kind of like, whoever shows up shows up, and whoever doesn’t doesn’t.
Have you had a chance to check out Young Lions and Drawing North in the lead up to the tour?
I have not. I’m looking forward to [hearing them] though. My soon-to-be brother in law lives down there, and he’s going to be coming out on the tour with us. He tells me they’re both great, so I can’t wait to check them out.
What can fans expect going to your show? What is it that sets The Almost’s live performance apart from other bands?
You know, I don’t know? You just come expecting to hear the songs, maybe in a slightly different way. We do a whole storyteller thing sometimes and talk about the songs a bit – it’s very laid back for us, not a big ‘to-do’.
Do you guys have any pre-show rituals that you do before you hit the stage each night?
Just the normal stuff for us. We pray together, we might grab a drink or two, but nothing too crazy.
Having toured the country on multiple occasions with Underoath, The Almost, and Paramore, you’re not exactly a stranger to our shores. Are you expecting anything particularly different this time around?
There’s always something a little different. We’re just pumped to be there and hang out, really.
In two years time, Underoath’s most commercially successful album ‘Define The Great Line’ hits its 10 year anniversary. Do you think a reunion tour to celebrate that is on the cards at all?
I have no idea, really. If it came up, I would definitely do it. You’re going to have to chat to the other guys though. I would be really keen, but everyone’s schedules are so crazy that I have no idea.
The Almost tour this April. Dates and details here.