Aaron Gillespie: vocalist/lyrics/guitar/drums
Jay Vilardi: guitars
Dusty Redmon: guitars
Jon Thompson: bass
Joe Musten: drums
It’s all too easy to make an album in this day and age. You rent out a studio, record one part, and then cut and paste it across the whole record. That happens partly because of fear. Putting your soul on tape is a scary thing. THE ALMOSTovercame that fear and did something completely different for not only themselves but modern rock as a whole. They holed up in a small room in Nashville’s Omni Studios for only five days and played every note of their third full-length album, FEAR INSIDE OF OUR BONES (Tooth & Nail/EMI/Universal), together in unison.
The group made the decision to record the album in the same room completely live, and the album was born in their collective blood, sweat, and tears.“It wasn’t a piecemeal process as the majority of modern records are,” explains lead vocalist, lyricist and guitarist AARON GILLESPIE.With a little help from producer Marshall Altman (Tom Morello, Ingrid Michaelson, William Fitzsimmons), the music was made live over the course of merely five days. “It’s something none of us have ever done and with the time crunch, we were surprised how tight of a live band we’ve finally become.Thematically, we bounced the entire record off using anxiety as our backboard.“
THE ALMOSThave come a long way since the release of their 2007 debut, Southern Weather(Tooth & Nail/Virgin) which hit the Billboard Top 200 chart at #39 with 29,000 copies sold in its first week and spawned their first single “Say This Sooner” which hit Top Ten at Alternative Radio. In the aftermath, the current lineup–AARON GILLESPIE(lead vocalist, lyricist and guitarist), JAY VILARDI [guitars], DUSTY REDMON[guitars], JON THOMPSON [bass], and JOE MUSTEN [drums]—had solidified, and they played to rabid crowds around the world. In 2009, the group delivered Monster, Monster which Alternative Press hailed “a time-release painkiller: Once the emotionally charged rock gets into your system, its’ good for a long-lasting buzz” (November 2009). After touring with Paramore, The Starting Line, The Used and a trek on the Vans Warped Tour the acclaimed group performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!and have gone on to sell over 300,000 albums.
“We’ve always been polished in the studio,” says Vilardi. “We never quite got the live energy down. We became a great live unit on the Monster, Monster cycle because we were busier than we’d ever been. That played into the vibe of this record. On stage, Aaron is a fireball of energy. We share anxiety. We’re anxious little dudes, and you can hear that in the record because it’s live.”
“That’s why it’s got a gritty, dirty vibe,” Gillespie goes on. “We went for it. We did Monster, Monster the traditional way. We spent a ton of money on a massive studio and all of these things we didn’t need. It was amazing doing everything live. I’ll do records like this for the rest of my life. We wanted to be on a time crunch so we only booked the studio for five days.”
In those five days, the musicians tapped into elegantly visceral rock energy. Album opener “Ghost” echoes with unbridled blues intensity before converging on a divinely heavy refrain.
“The broken guitar sound at the beginning—the two notes that start our record—are my two favorite notes I’ve ever played,” Vilardi laughs. “It’s the perfect starting point.
About the lyrics, Gillespie reveals, “You have to test yourself. So often, we take things that we see and hear at face value. With yourself, you can’t do that. You’ve got to test everything. You can’t trust yourself until you’ve tested yourself. You’ve got to run your thinking through the lens.”
Meanwhile, the first single “I’m Down” steams ahead like a swaggering Southern freight train before the singer carries a soulful chorus proclaiming, “Don’t count me out.”
“Musically, it’s one of the rawest songs,” Gillespie explains. “It’s about relationships. For me, I felt like I failed someone and I was wondering if I could even give anything else. In a relationship, you get to that point where you wonder if you’ve failed so bad the other person will even accept anything else from you. You have to show the change in your heart and life for it to work.”
Vilardi continues, “It’s indicative of where we come from. This is a rock ‘n’ roll band, and people will hear that.”
Across the entire album, Gillespie continues to wear his heart on his sleeve. He doesn’t hold anything back within the lyrics or music. “I want to make music that I believe in,” he proclaims. “I want people to trust that I’m being honest. I’m not so concerned about moving units or anything like that. It’s about being honest with people. I want everyone to realize this is real. This is my life and reality.”
“First and foremost, we have to like what we’re doing,” adds Vilardi. “That’s such a crucial component of all of this. We need to make it as meaningful and great as we can. We need to completely believe in what we do, and that’s the case with this album.”
Amidst all of the thundering rhythms and massive riffs, The Almost’s honesty resounds the loudest. “There’s hope,” Gillespie concludes. “People are free to feel the way they feel and go through what they’re going through. We’re free to hurt. We’re free to live. I think music is the best vehicle to spread that. Music is the great communicator. This is my soundtrack, heartbeat, and who I want to be. I hope everyone feels like this record belongs to them.”