For the recording of their third album Fear Inside Our Bones, Florida’s The Almost threw out just about every rulebook on how a modern band is supposed to record in this day and age.
Bypassing a lot of the cut and paste mentality and software trickery afforded by today’s modern technology, the band instead returned to the days when artists cut albums completely live. As guitarist Jay Vilardi explains down the line from the U.S, since making the decision the band hasn’t looked back.
“We really couldn’t get the way that the band sounded for real in a studio setting without recording live,” Vilardi says. “The other two records we’ve done we’re happy with and we wouldn’t change anything for the world but the one thing – that we sound like a polished version of The Almost and we really wanted to be honest. I mean Aaron (Gillespie: vocalist and guitarist), the most honest he could be lyrically and musically is sounding the way that we sound, for better or worse.”
Fear Inside Our Bones is a throwback to the days when bands would track every song on the record live, in the same room, take by take. Marshall Altman was the man overseeing the recording process and, according to Vilardi, his approach was anything but conventional. “We rehearsed for a week in a room together with Marshall standing five feet from me,” he remembers. “Then we just went and recorded it in the live room which I’ve never seen a producer do, usually they sit behind the desk on the other side of the glass. He was there with us, just rocking and doing his thing. I remember thinking, like, ‘wow, this is different, this record is going to be different’.”
There’s no denying the results on The Almost’s latest offering. Full of raw energy and honesty, the recording is perfectly suited to the band’s no frills, bluesy, southern rock. Opening track ‘Ghost’is a perfect example, where you can hear Gillespie’s breathing in between vocals as well as extra little guitar sounds and drum noises throughout. “If we were in the same room I could point stuff out to you, like what you’re really hearing, that would probably blow your mind in the way that it did mine, like ‘wow, we’re leaving that? OK, yeah, let’s leave it’,” says Vilardi. “I mean a lot of the drums you hear are not actually drums, its drums coming through my amp because we were standing so close.”
I ask whether the fact that the band recorded the album together in the same room had the same sort of feel as if they were in the rehearsal room, and if it took some of the pressure off being in a recording environment.
“That’s true, but then there’s also the other point which is if I mess up my take we all have to start over. You don’t want to be that guy that’s like, ‘oh, OK, take 20 because Jay can’t get his crap together,” he laughs.
Pitfalls and pressures aside, The Almost are converted – live is the only way they want to record albums in the future. “I know that Aaron has said this and I agree – we should never record any other way,” says Vilardi. “We should totally just record live because we went in there, we did a good job and the finished product…we’re getting the best response that we’ve got in a while on a record.
BY JAMES NICOLI
‘Fear Inside Our Bones’ is out now via Tooth & Nail Records/Shock