While Floridian metalcore sextet Underoath were recording 2006's Define the Great Line a little more than a year ago, the band's drummer, Aaron Gillespie, found himself writing straight-up rock tunes, material that he realized wouldn't fit with Underoath's vicious style. If these songs were to be heard someday, he knew he'd have to release them himself.
So before Define's June release, Gillespie hit the studio alone to track the songs, playing all of the instruments himself and even tackling vocalist duties, like how Trent Reznor records Nine Inch Nails albums. This spring, Gillespie's as-yet-untitled solo debut, which he'll release under the banner the Almost, will land in stores, and to be honest, he's not sure how Underoath's fans will respond to it.
"I don't know if people are even going to give a rat's butt," said the Christian rocker. "I just don't know what to expect. We'll find out, I suppose. I'm just really nervous, and I don't know if I'm going to suck or not."
One thing's certain: People are interested in the Almost, who played their first live gig December 17 in Anaheim, California. Ticket sales for the Almost's upcoming tour have been selling like hotcakes too — which makes the drummer even more nervous.
"That scares me, because that means people may be paying attention," he said. "It applies more pressure on me. It's just so nerve-racking."
The Almost will launch a 20-date tour December 28 in Philadelphia that's set to run through January 20 in Salt Lake City, just before Underoath's February run with Taking Back Sunday. The Almost's touring configuration includes longtime Gillespie pals Jay Vilardi and Nick D'Amico on guitars, bassist Alex Aponte and drummer Kenny Bozich.
"I just want to get out on the road and see how I fare as a frontman," Gillespie, who was recently married, continued, adding that doing his own thing has proven a little more difficult than he first imagined. "These were songs I had in my heart that I needed to get out. And when you play something yourself and you have to show a bunch of other people how to do it, it's really different. When I was in the studio, I did everything myself, and I knew how I wanted it to be."
There's no official word on when the Almost's album will be in stores, but Gillespie said the LP's lyrics deal with "a lot of neurological stuff, like panic, anxiety, growing up in the South. It's so vague, and people can bend it to the way they want to see it." The Almost also plan to shoot a video next month, for the album's first single, "Southern Weather."
In the meantime, things are right in Underoath's world, he says. Underoath have been working on a few new numbers they'd like to record for their next LP, which they'll probably begin working on next winter. It's possible they'll be doing several select dates on this summer's Warped Tour, and they have a North American headliner in the works that will launch towards summer's end.
But Gillespie would like to clear up a few things about his band's self-imposed break last summer — the one that followed Underoath's decision to leave Warped just a few weeks in (see "Why Are So Many Bands Leaving The Warped Tour?"). At the time, the band said it had to resolve some internal issues, although some wondered if being on the receiving end of a persistent string of gibes from NOFX frontman Fat Mike had triggered the move.
"There's no truth to that at all," the drummer said. "[Fat Mike] makes fun of everyone, and he picked us last summer. I don't care what he does. He's old, and that's his shtick. He doesn't have anything else going for him, so why not make fun of people? It was just a rumor that spun out of control."
And no, the Warped withdrawal had nothing to do with frontman Spencer Chamberlain's rumored drug problems. "Spencer wasn't in rehab, and to be honest, I don't think that would be the press' business," Gillespie said. "People in life go through stuff, and it's not the public's business. If there was something serious going on like that and he was in rehab, we'd have to tell the press. But it's just not true.
"I hear rumors about Underoath all the time," he continued. "The most recent was that me and Spencer were having a homosexual affair. Meanwhile, I'm married to a female, and Spencer's pretty much married. It's weird, all these rumors that go around. It's crazy, because none of them are true."