Artist of the day: Aaron Gillespie
Gillespie, who lives in Tarpon Springs, loves to cook, and he maintains a culinary blog called Foodisms, spotlighting his favorite restaurants and recipes at home and on the road. He's even taped appearances on several cooking shows. That's him, above, with Stella Mowen on the shockhound.com Web series Stella Can’t Cook.
For that story, we talked mostly about food. (Click here to read it.) But we did find time elsewhere in the conversation to discuss Gillespie's day job of being a rock star. After all, The Almost just released their second LP, Monster Monster, earlier this month, and Underoath is still one of the biggest Christian metalcore bands of all time, and they just kicked off a national tour.
Underoath plays with August Burns Red and Emery at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $21.
We chatted with Gillespie about his insane month, his transition from The Almost to Underoath, the difficulties of the Warped Tour, and his horse ...
What has this month been like for you, with Monster Monster and now a tour with Underoath?
We started (Underoath) rehearsals yesterday, actually, but it’s been pretty nuts. I haven’t played drums, or any Underoath songs, in like two months. So I feel like someone’s dragging me behind a truck right now.
I imagine it’s like falling off a bike, though. You just kind of fall right back into it.
Yeah, I’ve been playing drums since I was 3. It’s just that the physicality of Underoath is pretty high, so I sleep til noon and then stumble around all day until I have to play.
What about your voice? Do you have to do anything vocally different when you’re switching from the Almost mode to Underoath mode?
Underoath mode, for voice, is about 100 percent easier, because your body is so worked up from playing drums that it just works — not to mention that I only have to sing about 40 to 50 percent of the time, as opposed to 100 percent of the time. That makes it kind of easy.
So walk me through what this month has been like for you.
Oh, dude. It’s been 2 to 3 performances a day, radio and we’ve done a lot of in-stores — Hot Topic in-stores, Best Buy in-stores. Best Buy now has a music section, like an instrument section. It’s totally bizarre. So we did in-stores there. We did like 10 Hot Toic in-stores. It was kind of grueling, the month was pretty brutal. Constant press that still isn’t over. And now it’s starting to trickle in, like Almost and Underoath press, because we’re getting ready for the tour, so it’s a little bit of both right now. But it’s good. I have no complaints. I could be doing something that I don’t love, and this is what I love. It’s hard sometime, but it’s a blessing, for sure.
The Hot Topic shows, how have those been going? Have you been getting a lot of people at those?
Oh yeah. They only allow 150 people in, which is weird. We’ve done one where there were like 1,100 people. Now they only allow 150. I guess it’s some sort of liability or something. It’s kind of easy, and they’re quick, because it’s only 150 people.
It’s kind of cool that Hot Topic has started doing that. I know certainly, locally, a lot of local bands have gotten a lot of exposure through these Hot Topic acoustic shows.
Yeah, it’s been pretty awesome. What you don’t realize is Hot Topic has been around for 20 years. They are the alternative lifestyle store. Which is interesting, but true. People connect with that store. I get it. I understand why it helps.
People have known Underoath for a long time, but maybe people don’t know The Almost so much. Has one been like a gateway to the other?
The Almost has such different fans than Underoath. There are a lot of the same crossover people, but there are a lot of people who aren’t Underoath fans, radio people, which is so weird. But I take pride in that. I love that. The Underoath fans are either diehards or people who are really young. And The Almost, there’s a lot of — we call them “red cups”, just bros, which is so weird. With Say This Sooner we had a top 10 song, and I think that’s what created a lot of the college-age-dude crowds. You’d think it’d be the other way, but it isn’t.
Do you anticipate any of those fans will come out to Underoath shows on this tour?
Some do. We did a Slipknot tour that kind of created a lot of that radio crowd. We were like the baby band on that tour, and no one really knew who Underoath were. On the Warped Tour, we’re veterans in a way, but with Slipknot, the Mayhem thing, we were children. It was nice, because we got to prove ourselves, which is something we haven’t had to do in a long time. It was so fun, man. I can’t even tell you. The crowds weren’t even as big as we were used to, like festival crowds, but they were large enough to where I knew that no one in the crowd had any idea who Underoath was. That was a really liberating thing.
Have you ever thought about having an Almost set and an Underoath set in the same day?
Thought about that, and then I realized that it would probably kill me. The Almost did Warped in ’07. To be honest, I love Kevin Lyman, and I love his tour, but Warped Tour kills me. This summer was rough. This year we did it all summer, and I don’t know how we made it out alive. It was brutal.
Every time I talk to a band that’s been on Warped, they say it’s like a boot camp. It’s a lot more grueling than you’d expect.
It is in the beginning, I’m not going to lie to you. But on tour with Underoath now, life is easy. We don’t do anything. They come get us with a flashlight and a radio and say, 'You have five minutes, let’s go.’ Then they escort us back to the bus and shut the door and say, 'Here’s your dinner, heres your lunch. Be back here at this time, or we’re going to leave you.’ That’s pretty much it. A lot of people are like, 'It’s so hard!’ For me, the only hard part about touring is being away from my family. If my family was away from me all the time, or if I was single, I would just do it all the time. I wouldn’t even have a place to live. I don’t really care. But I have a beautiful wife and four dogs and a horse and a cat and two turtles and the whole thing, and that’s what kills me. That makes it almost impossible for me.
You have a horse. I didn’t know that.
I do have a horse. Copper. He’s in a stable in New Port Richey. He lives in a 17-acre horse farm.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Chad Sengstock.