Check out an interview with Aaron Gillespie, where he discusses his solo-debut, Anthem Song, and latest with his band The Almost…
You just got back from a trip to Haiti, how was the experience.
Oh man, it is crazy dude. It’s a really beautiful place that is really mismanaged. There is no running water, there’s no sewage, there’s no garbage disposal, there’s no medical care. It is rough, but God is really doing some incredible stuff there and the people are resilient. I think there is this large stigma that things have just gotten bad in the last two years since the earthquake, but things have been bad for a long time there and the earthquake just made things worse. But it has been cool, it is a really special place and the people are really resilient.
Did you go with a certain organization?
Yeah, we went with Samaritan’s Purse which was founded by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. It was really good. They are building 80,000 homes right now. So it has been really cool to get in with an organization like that, help out, and just see what God’s doing with them. They are helping with tangible needs first , a lot of people think that you can go in and do a lot of talking in a place like that, but you really need to go in with actual things before you begin to speak to them.
Your new solo album, Anthem Song, is set to release next week on March 8th . How did you decide to pursue a solo- album, instead a worship album with the Almost?
You know, my initial thought was that I always wanted to make a worship album, that’s how I got my start as a musician playing worship as a kid and leading worship in my high school youth group. I always wanted to make that record, but never had the time. I was interested in doing worship with the Almost, but I wanted to keep the two separate and the label and I had a conversation about keeping the two separate. Here is the reason why: because the Almost is a rock band and I wanted to continue to keep it that and continue to have that sound and idea behind the band. With the Almost being a faith-based band and a band used for ministry purposes, I didn’t want it to be a straight-up worship band. So we just created our own thing, and I have a totally separate band with totally separate musicians.
So you have always been passionate about writing and leading worship?
Yeah, I never really wrote much, so this is really my first stab at it. I have been leading worship since I was fourteen and even before that, I played drums for worship. I am a little nervous, but excited to see what God does and what happens.
Do you remember a specific period when felt like you were really being lead to pursue this?
I went to Africa last February with Compassion International, and I really wanted to feel a change from that trip. About five or six days in it was awesome and I saw all of the things that you would expect to see in a country like that, but I really wanted a change in my life. Towards the end of the trip, they took us to a Church service and I saw people just worshiping God, crazy and all out, for no reason really. Think about it, they are dying of malaria and AIDS, but they are worshiping God because He exists, and no other reason but that. I knew that was what I was created to do, and humans in general were created to do and I really wanted to be apart of that. That really gave me the fuel to go in that direction.
I actually have a friend who came back from Kenya recently, who had a very similar experience…
Yeah, it’s interesting to see when you really strip away the things of our “American life.” It’s easy to be an American, it really is easy. You know, I woke up this morning, took a hot shower, someone handed me a cup of coffee and put me in an office on a telephone to do interviews for eight hours. You know what I mean? It is easy to live her, but for these folks it’s work every day. The natural trappings of life are laborious things. Finding water, finding a place to use the restroom, finding something to eat to keep you alive. And then, if you have children, which most of these people have eight or nine children, it’s finding a way to survive yourself plus survival for eight or nine others. But as I learned in this Church service, people didn’t care. They were dressed to the nines, they were worshiping Jesus and they put everything on hold, because that’s what matters the most. That’s what humans were created to do, and they realize that, and they grasp that. For some reason we don’t, are so circumstantial in our country “God, thanks for everything. Bless your name,” or “God, I have everything, bless your name,” or”God, I have nothing. Praise your name!” But these people are worshiping God, simply because he exists. It was amazing to see that, and it really pointed my whole life in a different direction. I think that anyone who goes there and allows God to shape their heart will see the same.
What would you say were some of the lyrical influences behind the new album?
Well obviously what I just told you, but also the idea that there is this song that has been playing since the beginning of time and will be sung by whoever will, and rocks if need be the song of God’s grace and mercy, and just His anthem. It is our job as humans is to grab a little piece of that song and sing along. Just to be involved with that a little bit, that needs to be our existence. That is kind of the lyrical theme for the record Anthem Song.
How did you develop the sound for the new record? It seems to sound completely different from anything you have been involved in before…
I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t do music that way. I’m not like “I want it to be this type of record.” I just start with things, and however it turns up, it turns up. I’m not want of those people that is trying to make a type of genre. I just go for it. Whatever happens happens. Hopefully it doesn’t suck (laughs).
Listening back to the album, can you hear any specific influences?
There is definitely some U2 rip-off going on, especially the opening track “All Things.” U2 is my favorite band, and I have always wanted to do a rip-off of them, but you really can’t do that in any arena except for worship. It was kind of a nice opportunity for me to kind of rip-off U2 (laughs).
On this record you co-wrote most of the songs with a bunch of artists/writers. Who did you work with, and why did you choose them?
I got to write with and bunch of amazing people. I wrote with some Jars of Clay guys. Paul Baloche who in my opinion is a guy that writes for the Church. He writes hundreds of worship songs, and has written hundreds that you and I have sang since we were children. He wrote a single with me and wrote another song on the record with me. He is just an amazing writer, and has an even more amazing heart. I wrote with a guy named Phillip LaRue, who wrote a bunch of Tenth Avenue North’s recent songs. He is just a killer writer that is my age, and he has been writing in this town (Nashville) for a long time. The co-writing process was something that I have always wanted to do, and have never been able to do. It was really neat.
What would you like for people to take away from this album?
That the anthem of God is free and it something that they can jump on to. It’s not just for cool people, or Church people, it is for anyone that believes and will sing along, and except it.
What is the vision for your worship tour?
It is just to help people with their vocabulary of worship, just to help them enter into the presence of God. We are not here to have a show, or concert, we are just here to facilitate.
What is the latest news with the Almost?
We just started writing for a record that we are going to record in the fall, hopefully. I don’t have too much information But we are busy writing right now meeting on weekends. I have been meeting up with them and a worship band and we have been doing Acquire the Fire for another couple of weeks. Then we go to South America, Russia and Europe in the spring, and then we hit the studio.
Any idea when you are shooting to release the Almost album?
No. Well, I have an idea but I can’t tell you. I’m sorry. I am literally sitting in the EMI offices right now, and if I said anything, they would probably shoot me (laughs). They probably have my phone tapped anyway. Just kidding.
What is the latest on your clothing company, Pig Cloth?
We have been doing this thing called “Thrift,” which is this kind of social thing. It’s from our closet to yours, or from their closet to yours. People have been recycling their clothes, and selling them at a really cheap price. That has been our thing right now and has been really fun. It has kind of slowed down, because my wife has been on the road with me and she can’t be at home to run it.
Is there anything that God is really showing/teaching you right now that you would be willing to share?
That we are not it competition as a Church. I feel like in our country it is like who’s campus is bigger, who’s campus is badder, and who’s community is bigger and badder? When did that happen? It is a really weird concept when you think about it. Think about how stage of a concept that is. We are not supposed to be in competition, and God never meant for it to be that way. We are supposed to be the Church, we are supposed to help, hold, nurture the poor and glorify God. Anything that get’s in the way of that needs to be snuffed out. I think that we’ve got a lot of snuffing to do.
Perfect day, windows down, driving in your car, what are you listening to?
“With or Without You,” by U2.