It’s been 6 years, 4 months and 7 days since we’ve heard a new full-length album from The Almost. Thankfully, for all of us desperately awaiting a follow up to 2013′s Fear Inside Our Bones, that’s all about to change.
Hitting stores and streaming services this morning, mastermind Aaron Gillespie has released a brand new album of open-minded, honest rock anthems fueled by his need for getting things off his chest.
“I think the best records come when you feel like you have something to say,” explains Gillespie, “and I just felt like I had something to say. So I started writing songs and I don’t think I initially planned for it to be an Almost record or anything. Sometimes you just therapeutically or cathartically write songs, you know?”
Detailing more about his new Joshua Tree-influenced record Fear Caller, Gillespie told The Noise he was a little unsure about how many Almost fans were interested in hearing a new album.
“You know, you go to these Emo Nite things and you’re the old guy. Then you go on tour with Korn and Alice in Chains like we did this summer and we’re the babies. So I feel like I’m in this weird limbo as a musician, a public musician if you will, where it’s like, ‘Is anyone even going to remember this?’ So it was a really pleasant surprise to have people that are, like, stoked.”
To read more from the multi-talented musician, including the wild story behind Fear Caller’s artwork as well as the choice to cover U2′s “In God’s Country,” be sure to look below. Afterward, make sure to grab a copy of Fear Caller and pick up tickets to see The Almost out on tour as they plan to play 2008′s Southern Weather in full.
At what point did you know you wanted to write another Almost record?
AARON GILLESPIE: I don’t know that I did. I think the best records come when you feel like you have something to say and I just felt like I had something to say. So I started writing songs and I don’t think I initially planned for it to be an Almost record or anything. Sometimes you just therapeutically or cathartically write songs, you know? We were home for a couple of months with Underoath and I was just going to my studio every day and writing a song. I do that for other people and for “work stuff” but I was like, recording these songs and I was just going every day and writing and I think probably five or six songs in I was like, “I should make an Almost record.” And then I did the whole battle where you’re like, "What makes this an Almost record versus something else?” But I always loved the vibe of that band and what it stood for and so we just made the record and it kind of just happened. I made it in six days in a house in the desert. It’s a really kind of thrown together thing. I feel good about it though. I feel like the songs are pretty revealing for me. And I didn’t do the whole, “I’m trying to make this type of song or that.” I just kind of diarrhea-mouthed those songs out and I think that’s why they feel the way that they do. So I’m pretty excited about it.
When you released “Chokehold” as your first new Almost single, was the reception what you were anticipating?
I mean, more than I thought. You know, you go to these Emo Nite things and you’re the old guy. Then you go on tour with Korn and Alice in Chains like we did this summer and we’re the babies. So I feel like I’m in this weird limbo as a musician, a public musician if you will, where it’s like, “Is anyone even going to remember this?” So it was a really pleasant surprise to have people that are, like, stoked. So I don’t know, in 2019 it’s hard to know what success means musically. And for me, it always just meant people singing along and getting something out of it. So I think [the album will] do that, but you don’t know untill it comes out. People have loved the first three singles, I don’t know how many [people] or how they remember it, but I’m stoked.
Talking about Emo Nite and all of the nostalgia The Almost represents for some people, on your upcoming tour, you’ll be playing Southern Weather in full…
We might skip a song or two but we’ll play 99% of it.
Who’s going to play with you for those shows as far as your band goes?
A bunch of guys that actually work for Underoath. Our production manager is going to play drums. He’s a hell of a drummer. My drum tech is going to play bass. And then I have a friend from Florida who’s playing guitar. We’re just doing a four-piece band this time not a five-piece band.
You’ve covered some classic rock/folk-type stuff in the past playing Tom Petty and artists like that. Are you planning to keep that going for this tour?
I don’t really make setlists. For The Almost tour, we have a setlist now because I haven’t played some of the songs in 10 years so you kind of have to. I haven’t done any preparation yet but the other guys needed prep time. Other than that, I just fly. I’m one of those people that’s like overly musically spontaneous. I’ll hear something one day and I’m like, “I gotta figure that out” and I’ll play it the next night. I guess for me, that’s the outlet of what I get to do with my own stuff. With Underoath, there’s a production. It’s not calculated, but it’s planned.
Similar to when Underoath came back and played They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define The Great Line, what has it been like for you personally to go back and revisit these Southern Weather songs?
Oh, it’s funny because you’re 23 and you’re like, “What the hell?” Like, “Is that really how I felt about that?” I think the same thing all the time with Underoath though. When we did that tour playing They’re Only Chasing Safety, I was like, “Oh my gosh.” You know, you’re 21 and you’re like, “What am I even talking about?” You know, because it’s things that you’ve already worked through and you’ve already figured out and you’re over it. But you go back and sing it and to some people, you know, it’s still where they are. It still matters. So I think that’s what gives you the juice to do it as other people are still there. They’re younger than you or they’re older than you but they’re still there. And that helps you sort of take ownership of it again.
The desert is a very big theme with Fear Caller. You went out to Joshua Tree to record it. Were there any spiritual experiences that Joshua Tree brought for this recording?
It’s weird when you go somewhere like that. I went there years ago for vacation, like I just love the desert. I live in Utah on five acres out in the dirt and it’s something that I like. And I had never been to Palm Springs or Joshua Tree and we actually went to Palm Springs to like a Hard Rock. I have a friend who is a talent manager for a Hard Rock. It’s not there anymore. It’s called something else but he still works there. But he had me and Spencer [Chamberlain] out to do some like commercial drops for him and then just gave us the penthouse for a week. And I was like, “This is really cool. I’ve [already] been in Palm Springs, it’s hot as shit. I want to see some stuff though.” So we got in a car and someone drove us out Joshua Tree and I had never been there. [Immeditely,] I was like, “This is my place, man. This is it.” So I knew that I wanted to keep going back there and I knew that I wanted to make music there.
The thing about the desert is you just you get a sense that it never ends, especially out there. You get a feeling that it’s just old. Like the people that lived there and like if you read old Louis L'Amour books – I’m reading all that cowboys shit, you know. So like, it’s super cool to go out there and kind of see it and just weird stuff happens out there. The reason the record is called what it is, the first day I was there (I go running every morning or ride a bike for a long way a couple hours a day) I got up one more morning to go running and there was a giant jackrabbit, like huge, two feet tall, and he just followed me on my route. It didn’t spook, it was really strange. And then we got kicked out of the Airbnb for making noise even though they knew what we were doing. This is day one, we recorded the drums and the guitar to one song and I’m like, “Fuck.” So we left. We had to pack up and I literally brought in a whole studio. So it took hours. Packed it all out, put it in a van and we were homeless. So everyone back in New York is making phone calls, we found another house and that’s where we ended up making the record. But as we got to that house, I set up the vocal mic out of this living room window so I could see everything and there was that fucking rabbit, man. Or one that looked just like it. And every morning, there he was.
Then we went to a bar in this town in Joshua Tree called Pioneertown, it was built in the 50s and 60s by like all the old cowboy movie guys. It’s a set to a film for Clint Eastwood movies and stuff and they never tore it down. So hipsters kind of moved in and bought it and made clothing stores and record shops but there’s still like no people there. There are no paved roads. And there’s this bar that has been there forever. It’s called Pappy and Harriet’s. It’s this famous thing and like live bands play there, semi-recently Paul McCartney showed up and played piano for an hour. Shit like that happens. It’s just really weird. So we go there and there’s a band playing. I don’t remember who it was. And me and Matt [Squire, producer] are just having some drinks in the back and this guy, this like homeless dude, is just in a patio in the back with a rabbit on his head sitting there. So at this point, I’m like, “This is getting weird.” It’s constant. I’ve never seen a jackrabbit out here and I’ve definitely never had it come this close. So we started looking into it and it’s like a Native American totem for anxiety and creativity and it’s kind of just who I am. And I see [the rabbit] everywhere now when I’m out in that part of the world, so lots of weird shit happens out there, man.
Being that writing and recording this album was pretty therapeutic for you, now that it’s finished, how do you feel?
I haven’t been able to feel any way because I’ve been so busy. You know that kind of happens in the music world where like, if you’re a “professional musician” or whatever the hell that means, you’re always doing [something]. Like I’m doing something today that has nothing to do with that. I’m kind of a compartmentalized person where I’m all the way here right now. Or if I’m working on someone else’s song, I’m all the way there. So it’s been hard. The records comes out [soon] and we don’t tour until January, so I’m just sort of just like, I don’t know. I don’t even know what to think yet.
What are you most excited for people to hear on the record?
I’m still kind of precious in the sense that I like making whole packages, records as a whole. So I’m excited for people to sit down and listen to the journey of the whole thing. It’s not conceptual or anything but I always felt like, in Underoath, we always spent so much time sequencing records and obviously, it’s 2019 and we’re in the age of Spotify and “tracks” but I’m just excited for people that do listen to the whole thing. I don’t know how many people actually do that, but I’m excited for them to do so.
You chose to cover a U2 song from their Joshua Tree album, “In God’s Country.” It’s an interesting choice considering how outspoken you’ve been about religion lately. What was behind you covering that song?
I mean to clear the slate, I don’t have issues with God. I have issues with people. You know, I don’t have any issues spiritually. I have issues religiously and socially, but I ain’t got no issues spiritually. So I feel like that land and those expansive spaces and just that untouched country, that’s God’s business. You know, babies are God’s business how they’re formed in the womb. And for me, it just feels like that. You know, this record feels like it wasn’t really my business. Not to say that God made a record but you know, it’s not my business. It’s God’s country, you know?