Sometimes things go wrong. No matter the resistance, some paths careen towards places you never wished to travel. Earlier this year, Aaron Gillespie went there. He experienced what he can only articulate as “a tumultuous time of life turned upside down,” and as he pulled himself out of personal wreckage, few people came to his aid. Left alone, Gillespie went to his studio. “I started writing this record when I was mourning,” he explains. “It’s been a really weird year, and healing comes differently to people. This helped me cope.”
In the early months of 2016, when the mire was thick, Gillespie spent four days in his studio recording. Although he’s been a successful musician for years (playing with musical outfits Underoath and The Almost), his newest solo pursuit showcases his musicianship in a new light. When you listen to Out Of The Badlands, you’ll be listening to Aaron Gillespie’s most vulnerable project to date. The record is a compilation of reworked past releases, covers, and original songs, all of which were recorded and produced by Gillespie himself. “The production shows where I was at the time. I didn’t need any noise in my life, I didn’t need anything fake. There’s no programming,” he explains. “I did it all myself. It’s as naked as I could get it to be. It’s raw and honest—it’s what I sound like at my worst, with a broken heart.”
The covered tracks from Underoath—“A Boy Brushed Red” and “Reinventing Your Exit”—are, to Gillespie, sacred and nostalgic. His other songs, like the cover of The Almost’s “Say This Sooner,” include honest lyrics he still needs to sing. His original songs, however, are too sentimental to discuss. “‘Raspberry Layer Cake’ is the most honest song I’ve ever written,” he confesses, “and I won’t talk about it.”
To Gillespie, life is about what you do with the negative. Although sometimes things go wrong, and some paths end up in a place you never wished to travel, it’s up to you what to do when you get there. “When you’re really going through something,” he notes, “when you’re really being wrung over the washboard, you can find beautiful art inside yourself.” Out Of The Badlands, out now on Tooth & Nail Records, is the result of that wringing.