How often does an article start off where the frontman of the band confesses to poopin in his pants at a gig? Levi Macallister got on the phone with Aaron Gillespie and they started talking. Here is the transcription from that interview.
Hey what’s up, Aaron?
Not much, man, how are you?
I’m doing pretty good. Just hanging out, man. Thanks for taking some time to talk to me for a little bit.
Sure… I’m going to warn you – my phone might take a dump. So if it does I’ll have to go plug it in, and… yeah.
Okay. Cool. That sounds good. I was going to ask something about “Little Drummer Boy” for your E.P. – but I was thinkin’ “Wow, that’s probably a really, really stupid question.” You know? Whatever. But I wanted to say that’s cool, man. I really liked that on the EP. That brings back two million memories of listening to that song with my mom. It was awesome.
Oh yeah. That was totally the point of the whole thing – you know what I mean? Christmas time, and everything. I’ve never done anything like that – so it seemed like a good idea.
For sure. Cool man. Well, I guess I’ll just try to ask you a few questions. I tried to come up with some crap that was different than the same stuff everybody asks you a million times over so hopefully it’ll be good. But, I was reading an interview that you had a while back where you were talking to somebody about never really becoming the “sell-out” or whatever, and being in a band because it’s just what you do, or it’s just your job – not being passionate about it anymore.
So I was going to ask you – does that require concentration for you? To not get into the same old mold of, “Well, cool… I’m going to yet another show…”
Well, I think any band gets in that mold. Like… I mean, right now, I’ve been home for eight days since June. I’m kind of in that mold now. Not like I’m over it. But, I mean… I’ve been on tour for seven months – straight. You get to the point where you kind of like – you know, you just go through the motions. You don’t know what city you’re in, what day it is. But I’ve been trying. And there are little things you can do to try and make it worth it. Like, physical, tangible things. Get a bicycle and put it in the trailer and see a city every day. You know what I mean? Little stuff like that, you know what I mean? But it’s hard man. It really is hard. I guess you wake up every day and realize that every day is a gift from God. Like, I’m not making sandwiches. I could be making sandwiches at Subway or… you know. So I’m really thankful for it. But definitely it gets to a point where you become kind of robotic with it, you know?
Totally. Is it hard having a family in the midst of all the touring?
Does your wife tour with you?
Um. In The Almost she does, always. In Underoath, not so much. But, it gets harder and harder. Every day. Every tout is harder than the last one. It gets easier here, you know what I mean? But in terms of being away from family it gets harder and harder and harder. Like, when you have a wife and dogs and a home it gets harder and harder every tour you do, you know?
Do you… like, I know when you guys first came out with Southern Weather for The Almost stuff, a lot of people were thinking it was just going to be a one time thing, like a “one-CD-deal.” How do you see yourself developing as a musician with The Almost now that it’s a more serious endeavor instead of just you writing while the rest of band records for Underoath?
It’s cool. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to writing with a bunch of guys. I mean, this EP is kind of like a last “me by myself” thing here.
Oh, okay, cool.
From here on out it will be a band thing. We’re gonna record a new record in the springtime. I’m not sure of the release date yet. But it’s kind of more than I expected, you know?
For sure. That’s great.
I just feel old. Like, I’m 25. I turn 25 this year. It’s weird because this music scene is young. You know? I guess I’m like in the middle of the age because it goes from, like, 12 years old to 30, but I just feel so old. It’s weird.
I have a question. I don’t know how it’s going to come across. Let me just ask it and kind of preface it with this. Why or how do you find the strength to be able to follow Jesus in a – well… like, even in the Christian realm right now, I think that a lot of ideas are “liberalized.” I don’t think that’s the right word, but I’ll use it for lack of a better one. People that would very much call themselves Christians – and I’m not saying that they aren’t – but there’s a lot of flirting with the whole “taking advantage of the grace of God” type of thing. How do you see yourself as a person staying true to following Jesus instead of branching out and experimenting with this and that while still holding onto the grace of God?
Oh man… I think that I do experiment with this and that. You know? I’m definitely not proud of some of the stuff that I’ve done in my life. I’m not out doing drugs, but I’ve drank too much a lot, and I’ve hurt feelings, and I’ve made a bad representation of Christ. You know, I think that anybody who says they haven’t, or who isn’t honest about their situation is in a pretty weird spot, too. But it is true. I think things are becoming more idealistic, and more liberal, and more… I’m not sure of the correct adjective. But I know at the end of the day that my life was bought at a price. I know that sounds like what your mom told you. But it’s true. And I struggle with stuff just like the next guy. So I guess the answer I have is just that I deal with stuff just like the next guy.
I mean, there’s so much out here. I’m married, you know, so I don’t deal with the whole, like, chick thing. Which isn’t very real anyway. But, you know… my biggest issue is just learning to love every minute of it and use every opportunity I have, for Christ. Because it gets to a point where you want to just do what you’ve got to do and you want to spend your hour on stage and you want to get away from it all, you know? And in actuality – the reality why we’re here is to talk to these kids and maybe show them a different way and hear what they’re about and hear where they come from, you know? And that’s really hard sometimes when you’re jetlagged and burnt out and eating dinner and going to sleep. At the end of the day that’s why I’m here. That’s my biggest issue on the road. Making myself available to be who I should be… and that’s the things that I want to be. Your mind kind of plays tricks on you, you know?
Yeah. I don’t know, but I would imagine it’s weird to be one the sort of pedestal that people place musicians or people in the public eye on –
Yeah, but that’s not really what I’m saying. What I’m saying is like – I know for a fact that instead of just running off stage and going to a dressing room, I should go hang out with everybody.
So many bands … I mean, I think every band that I know of is just so comfortable with the whole “band/audience” dichotomy – which I think is … I think it’s the stage that creates the issue, you know? People who are in bands and musicians or actors or whatever… the stage becomes the issue. It becomes your crutch that you use for every excuse. And I think that’s kind of a cop-out, so … yeah.
Well, on your EP – its definitely got kind of a more worship feel to it. Of you must like that song “Your Love is Extravagant” to put it on there, but I wanted to ask if there was any certain or particular about that song. There is for me, so I thought I’d ask.
I grew up playing that song in church. I really wanted to kind of throw back to it. Not only that, but I was leading a Bible study at the EMI building in Nashville probably about six or seven months ago. The guy that had me come out and to it was the head A&R from Tooth & Nail. I played that song that morning. My voice was shot from the show the night before. It was the second or third night of The Almost headlining tour in June, and my voice was just like, “Blehhhh.” It was bad. I was so tired. I didn’t sleep much the night before. So I had to figure out what I was going to play. I woke up the next morning and my voice was just horrible and I didn’t know what to do, so I ended up playing that song. I hadn’t played it in years, but I got off stage and Chad was like, “Dude, you have to record that song someday.” So that kind of really drew my love back towards that. I grew up playing worship music. That was like my first musical endeavor. And I really got into Leeland in the last few months, so that’s kind of a big reason why I put that on there. So, yeah.
That’s cool. There’s one song … and I forget what it’s called. Um … and it talks about coming back to the heart of worship –
Oh yeah … “And it’s all about you, it’s all about you … ?”
Yeah. And I feel like every time I hear that song – like, even if I’ve heard it five minutes earlier and then I come back and hear it again … it’s always just like, this convicting thing of always staying within the heart of worship and kind of drifting away and coming back and knowing what that is. I think in your song, the part about “you consider me your friend, capture my heart again” kind of does the same thing with that worship song.
Yeah, dude. You know. It’s really humbling and strange, to think about the omnipotence-y of God and the sovereignty of God, and how he’s created such a personal thing with people. You know what I mean? It’s so bizarre that we somehow, through Christ, have the ability to be friends with God. And that’s just weird, you know what I mean? I was reading Jeremiah yesterday and it’s weird because you think about: back in the day, when people messed up, there was so much to go through. There was so much to obtain to become clean again. You know? When you think about Christ, and the sacrifice that Christ made, it’s crazy how God decided that it needed to be easy for us. You know? I don’t understand that. That is something that, especially being married, you really take a look at, and you’re like … wow. You know? How are you supposed to love your wife? Like Christ loved the church. And I think that when he said the church he meant, you know, people. I think it’s bizarre that we’re so dirty and normal, and yet we get to have personal friendships with the creator of the universe – you know what I mean? I think it’s simple stuff like that that I kind of wanted to get back to. The recording’s really simple, it’s acoustic. You know – I think that I complicate things too much.
Dude. Me too.
You know. I’m on tour with Underoath and we have like… trucks and lighting and 30 foot TV screens and at the end of the day I never even knew that stuff existed. You know? Back in the day when I was a kid I never knew that any of this was even a possibility, you know? Buses and trucks and airplanes and Africa and all this – I never knew that any of this stuff was a possibility. I just wanted to play the drums. Make music. So I think for me, the whole EP is important to become “that way.” Christ talked about it all the time – becoming like a little child in your faith. Kids are ignorant, you know? So, I don’t know. I’m not saying to become ignorant, but you know what I’m saying. To become humble in the way that you trust in things.
Right. What’s your – wow, this question is kind of stupid. I know it’s hard to pick out a favorite thing about a whole collaborative thing that you do, but what would you say is your favorite thing about the EP?
Um… I definitely say my favorite thing about it is Tim from Underoath recorded the whole thing. And we recorded it all over the whole world. We did it this summer while we were traveling. So we’d to the drums in Kansas and the keyboard in England and … it was like a travel record. We did the whole thing while we were traveling.
Cool. What is one of the most embarrassing or awkward memories that you have from sometime in the band?
Oh … dude.
Last May we were on Warped Tour and on the way home. Not May – it must’ve been late August, early September … We had to stop at this one show at this place, a tiny venue. It holds like 300 people. They put, like, 400 people in it that night. It was the hottest… It was literally the hottest I’ve ever been – I think they said it was like 130 degrees inside the building.
Oh my gosh.
Dude, I was un-deal-able. By the time we got onto stage it had escalated to like – ah dude it was so bad. Anyway – our second song in and our drummer had thrown up, our guitar tech had thrown up, our tour manager had thrown up … everybody was puking everywhere. The second song in and I, uh … I crapped my pants.
And I don’t play drums in that band. I play the guitar. I didn’t know what to do. I had to finish the set. It was terrible.
No one found out. I mean, I guess they will now … obviously. So bad.
Dude. That would … that would not be fun.
Yeah it was like the worst night ever.
Yeah that sucks.
My wife was laughing at me and stuff.
Haha! Oh yeah! Cause she was there for The Almost show, huh?
Yeah, she was laughing her freakin butt off. It was terrible.
That’s so good whenever your girlfriend or wife laughs at you. It’s just the best feeling. It makes you happy inside.
Oh yeah. It’s good. It’s a good feeling.
If you had the chance to have the mutant powers of one of the X-Men, which one would you choose?
Um … I would never – my superhero thing is that I wouldn’t want to be mutated. I would want to be Batman or somebody like that.
Cool. I’d have to say Nightcrawler. Cause then I could teleport places, you know?
Yeah. That’d be cool.
Like, I was reading one of the interviews with one of the other dudes in the band and he was talking about – I forget his name – he works at Starbucks…?<
Yeah. And I work there to. So I was thinking about it. Like, man, dude. I could get off on my half, and teleport to Bangkok and eat freakin good food and it’d be awesome.
Dude. Foreign food. Like, I love tons of ethnic food, when you really eat it in it’s own country – it’s bizarre. We Americanize everything, even when you go to a real “authentic” place, you know?
Yeah. Totally. My dad does some missions work and when I was in high school I went overseas to Asia with him and went to, like, China, and Thailand, and Laos, and a bunch of places, and they had the craziest, best food… yeah. You have the “same thing” here and it’s like a completely different thing. Not the same.
Totally different thing, yeah. Japan was a big culture shock to me, because I love Japanese food. Even stuff with the same names that wee call it in America – it’s just not the same.
Yeah. Cool man, well … I don’t even know. I think that was all pretty rad. Thanks for taking some time with me.
Yeah man. You have a good afternoon brotha.