The following is a phone interview that I had the pleasure of sharing with Aaron Gillespie. It is my first “real” interview of (hopefully) many more.
Topics include his new album Grace Through the Wandering (available Feb 3rd), touring plans, his time with Paramore, Breaking Bad, streaming music, and vinyl collecting. Funny tidbit about this interview….my nose was literally gushing blood about halfway through this interview. Rapidly changing weather on the West Coast does not agree with me. Didn’t mention it to him, but quite a weird coincidence considering he had the same thing happen within 20 minutes and a few states away. Read the lengthy interview below and comment with discussion below. Enjoy!
IZ: Hi, this is Ian Zandi with Indie Vision Music.
AG: What’s up man?
IZ: Is this Aaron?
AG: 100 percent.
IZ: Awesome, good to meet you man
AG: Good to meet you E-N
IZ: Haha How are you doing?
AG: Excuse me while I blow my nose…. I’m in Albuquerque so its super dry so my nose bleeding and stuff. It’s weird.
IZ: Yeah we have some weird weather in California right now too. I don’t even know what’s up. It can’t decide.
AG: When I was in Rhode Island last weekend there was a huge blizzard, I flew here on Monday, and we almost got stuck.
IZ: Oh my gosh
AG: Yeah man.
IZ: You ready for interview?
AG: Oh yeah!
IZ: Alrighty then, so you have a record coming out in the beginning of February called Grace Through the Wandering…
AG: A week from today bro
IZ: It’s today?
AG: Oh no, one week from today
IZ: Oh okay…one week from today, I was like ‘Did I miss it, is it today?!’. Haha. Can you tell us a little about the title and the record as a whole?
AG: Yeah man, it’s my 2nd worship record. I put my first one out in…2012? It was called Anthem Song, like my first solo kinda thing, you know? This is a worship record but it’s a little more, I hate this word, but I guess it’s a little more “artistic” in a way. I made it over like four or five months while on road with Paramore playing drums. John, who plays in Paramore as well, a dear friend of mine, great producer and a great musician. We did the whole thing on a laptop.
IZ: Oh, wow
AG: We rented a drum room in a studio for one day in LA. Sorta just trucked it along. During the Paramore Self-Titled Tour is actually when we made the record. It’s a worship record, a little different for me as opposed to the last one. The title is kind of like the journey of my life. I’ve wandered a lot and done a lot of crazy garbage in my life. I believe that there is grace in all of that. It’s kind of an inward title.
IZ: That’s great man, thanks for sharing. What would you say would be some of your influences, I mean lyrically and musically, on the record? I’ve heard a few songs… maybe a little bit of U2 on there?
AG: Yeah, there is a little bit of that on there. That, and old MGMT and some Tears for Fears.
IZ- Ah, they’re awesome.
AG: It’s funny how come back to that 80’s music. Taylor Swift’s amazing record that she just put out is so 80s. It’s one of the best records I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a little bit of that thing. You know what I mean?
IZ-Mmhmm. There is a song I heard in particular called “Hold Me Close” is that right?
IZ: It sounds a lot different than any of the other songs that you have ever done. What was the idea behind that one?
AG: It was actually the last song we did. John and I were just in a hotel room and it was snowing. We had the day off and the bus was just parked at a hotel. John and I went in and we did our song. Most of the songs that John and I did were actually recorded in 15 different countries during the entire Paramore self-titled run. It was a ‘snowing outside and we were stuck inside’ kind of deal. He just started putting this track together and we just started writing on top of it. I think his brother played bass on it, and I played drums on the end, turning out into this sorta thing. I’m really proud of it. Super different, I hear what you’re saying.
IZ: Very cool. I know you said you went on tour with Paramore. Are there any future plans with the band? I think they are going on tour with Copeland. Are you going to be on that?
AG: Yes, you can look out for me bro.
IZ: Well, which band would you say you enjoy playing in the most? Is it your worship stuff, Underoath, The Almost, Paramore….
AG: I like it all for different reasons. Paramore has been so freeing for me. It’s cool to be able to play for them. It’s the three of theirs’ band. I’ve known them for a while. I’ve known Hayley since she was 14.
IZ: Oh, wow! That’s a while.
AG: It’s really cool to see them become such a great large band and such great songwriters. “Ain’t It Fun” is one of the best songs to come out in the last year. I really believe that, I can tell you this because I obviously have spent a lot of time with them, they are the best people in the business. I really believe that. They’re just ‘what you see is what you get’. There is no BS in that band. They are the real deal, 100%. You know what I mean? They are, who they are, who they are. It shines through their music I think which is why they have had so much success you know?
AG: It’s just really cool to be a part of that and kind of sit behind them. I haven’t been able to play drums in like 4 or 4 ½ years. I hadn’t since I left Underoath in ’09. It was so healthy for me to get back behind that drumset and headspace.
IZ: Did it take a while to learn their songs or did you just know them off the back (of your head)?
AG: It was pretty quick man. We didn’t have much time. It was an interesting circumstance but I’m thankful it worked out.
IZ: That’s awesome. Do you have any future touring plans about your solo record? I think you were going to tour The Almost’s Fear Inside Our Bones album but then you did the Paramore thing. Are you going to do anything with that?
AG: The Fear Inside Our Bones thing didn’t really work out. The rollout of that record didn’t work.
IZ: It’s a good record though….
AG: THANK YOU! I think we live in a time now were people just don’t wanna hear rock music like that….standard tuning, dirty rock n roll. We recorded that whole record in three days live. I really love that record but I just don’t think it was the right time for that record. So I don’t think any further touring off that record would have been profitable or smart. You know what I mean? I don’t even mean profitable financially. I just mean in any way. I think people really want an Underoath reunion or they just want to see me by myself. I think The Almost has put a taste in people’s mouths that they don’t like so I’ve kind of just put that to bed for a minute. We’ll see what happens. We’ll tear it out again someday soon I think.
IZ: That makes sense. So you are going to tour solo for a while then, right?
AG: For the better part of the winter for sure. I have a tour that I can’t announce yet and a couple other things. Right now I have been just doing some one-offs. Producing some records and some other things like that. My record comes out next week, then I’ll hit the road.
IZ- That’s cool. What other records are you producing?
AG: I’m producing a worship record right now for a large church in Albuquerque so I have been here every other week for the better part of 3-4 months. I’ve got an apartment here. Everything is dead in Albuquerque, that’s what sucks.
IZ: *Laughs hard*
AG: There’s no grass, there’s no trees. My nose bleeds every morning. You know, livin the dream bro.
IZ: That’s the city on Breaking Bad, right?
AG: Oh yeah! You can go to the house….Walter White’s house.
IZ: I didn’t even know. I thought it was just a set! I love that show
AG: It’s super bitchin’. You can go there, it’s really cool. You know the car wash?
IZ: Yeah! That he buys?
AG: There’s a sketchy candy shop that actually invented the meth they make. It’s actually rock candy. You know the blue stuff? Whatever the hell they call it…you can actually go buy it. Its cotton-candy flavored rock candy.
IZ: That’s crazy man. Going back a step, are they any co-writes you’ve done in addition to producing? Or is it just the producing stuff?
AG: I do a lot of co-writes. I signed a publishing deal a couple of years ago. I’ve co-written a ton in the last 4-5 years.
IZ: Can you say any of the bands or are you not allowed to?
AG: No, I can’t. I doesn’t work that way.
IZ: No, it’s okay. Just curious. Have you been listening to any new music lately? Any bands you’ve got your eye on?
AG: Um, the new Taylor Swift is just so good. I love that Jack Antonoff Bleachers record. It’s brilliant, freaking brilliant man.
IZ: Yes, yes I know what you’re talking about.
AG: I’ve been listening to the new Copeland which is brilliant.
IZ: Oh my gosh *Said in a buttery tone*
AG: Those are my people man! I grew up with those guys. Underoath used to tour with Copeland when they were a band called “Ev Angel”.
IZ: Oh, I did not know that.
AG: Yeah, before they were called Copeland. I might get in trouble for saying that but I don’t care. Yeah man, those three records a lot lately. I’ve also been listening and replaying that old Brandon Flowers record from 2010. Remember that record, Flamingo?
IZ: Oh yeah! His solo record (apart) from The Killers?
AG: Yeah dude. That record is perfect man. I love that record. Battle Born from The Killers…I’ve been listening to that a lot lately. Just for reference, the record that I am producing right now kind of has that vibe. I’ve just been referencing that record quite a bit. It’s an ever-flowing thing for me. The new Ryan Adams I really like. A little bit of it all you know.
IZ: Would you ever take your worship work to Warped Tour or is that something that belongs only in church venues?
AG: I’ll do whatever dude. I’m kind of all about wherever people want me, and whatever people want me, I’ll do it.
IZ: Cool, just play a show wherever?
AG: Yeah, it’s just a different time. I mean, Underoath is over, I’m getting old.
AG: To me, it’s not so much about the image anymore. It’s about helping people and pushing things forward. I’m sort of like, wherever need be, I’ll do.
IZ: I think you did some work in Africa a few years ago, is that right?
AG: Yeah, Uganda. My wife and I went there and went to some AIDS hospitals and a bunch of different stuff. I’m really grateful we got to do that.
IZ: Are you thinking about going back there to do some more in the future, or is that chapter closed?
AG: We’ve talked about it a lot recently. I actually just wrote an email a few days ago about going back. So, we’ll see. *coughs* Sorry about the coughing man. I’m from Florida….it’s the dry air here. I’d die out here.
IZ: Used to everything being humid?
AG: Anyway, I definitely think it’s something still on our plate. It’s just a matter of timing. When, how, all of the above.
IZ: Ok so I am going on a completely different topic now. However, it’s a big one in the music industry. Streaming music. What are your opinions on it? Do you support it, put up with it…
AG: I mean, you don’t really get an opinion when you are an artist.
IZ: *Laughs hard*
AG: I think that we live in an era that’s different than it’s ever been. What I mean by that is, in the ‘50s and ‘60s people bought singles. Albums weren’t the ticket yet. In the ‘70s, records were all the rage. Now I think we are back in the singles phase. People are buying singles, but you can stream music. I’m all about it. I have an audio account that I pay for every month. I listen to all kinds of different records and music. For me, it’s very profitable for a young band. I remember when I started playing full-time in Underoath, I was 15. It was 1998 and there was no way to get your music out there. We had cassette tapes. The first things we sold at our shows and in our hometown. It was hard to get people to listen. We just happen to get a record deal and happened to work. Now you can record someone on your iPod or iPad and put it online. Within 15 minutes, everybody in the world has access……But then again, if you are a career musician, it’s hard. If you are used to selling a lot of records, like I’ve been blessed to do in my life, and then people just stop buying records, it’s hard. It creates a bit of a thing. As long as they can hear it, I don’t really care.
IZ: I think vinyl is making a comeback too. Are you a fan or that or just digital media?
AG: Dude, when I was a kid, that was the way I got into music. My dad would drink too much Miller Lite every Friday night. He had hundreds of LPs he would play for me. That was the first time I really realized what I wanted to do. Just listen to records with my dad on Fridays. He moved up North when my parents split. When I was in high school, he gave me all of those records. It’s something that I really do love. I think it’s such a cool piece to have. Whenever I post ‘Hey, I have a new record coming out…’ the first typical response is ‘Is it on vinyl?’ I think that is just a beautiful cool thing. It’s a great time we are living in right now. I do love that.
IZ: That’s great. Have you bought any vinyl recently, or just a fan of the craze coming back?
AG: YEAH! Got the new Ryan Adams records, new Coldplay record, the new Copeland record recently…
IZ: Aww that would be so good on vinyl…
AG: Dude, it’s really cool. I went through a big phase where I bought everything I really ever listened to, on vinyl. You know, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American
IZ: Oh my gosh, so good
AG: Like At the Drive In’s Relationship of Command….Stuff that I grew up listening to that I never had on vinyl, I kind of went through a phase of buying all that stuff. Alkaline Trio…I just got a bunch of different colors of Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends which is really cool. Like, five different colors. I just found all five Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety records on vinyl. All five different colors.
IZ: Oh cool, where did you find that?
AG: In my record store. I found a gold one in there. There’s only like 200 of those made I don’t know who found it, copied it, or how it got there haha. Pretty stoked on those.
IZ: Alright, well I think I am running out of questions. Anything else you wanna throw in there?
AG: No way Ian. Thanks for calling!
IZ: Hope that cough gets better. Get some moisture up there.
AG: Man, I’m dying out here. I literally feel like a smoker. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
IZ: Well, take care man. Thank you!
AG: Later bro