Dusty Redmon of The Almost
The Almost started as a solo project for all around workhorse Aaron Gillespie. Sure, the name probably sounds familiar. That’s because he’s the drummer for a little band called Underoath as well. Let’s just say he’s a bit of an overachiever.
With Southern Weather, the debut disc from The Almost, Aaron wrote it from top to bottom and fronts the band that now delivers the goods live. Gillespie played almost all of the instruments on the recording of the album and worked with producer Aaron Sprinkle to make this album everything it could possibly be.
The first single Say This Sooner grabbed the attention of music fans very quickly and started a buzz that has yet to stop. Southern Weather lets Gillespie display more of his melodic chops and allows him to get out from behind the drum kit and connect directly with the fans, something that is very important to him. The rest of the band, rounded out by Alex Aponte on bass, Kenny Bozich on drums and Dusty Redmon and Jay Vilardi on guitar are as connected to the songs as Aaron is. By playing them night after night they have made a personal and spiritual connection with them as well – they aren’t just hired hands.
Currently blazing across the country with The Starting Line and Paramore, guitarist Dusty took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Stacie about the band, life on the road and some of his favorite things!
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | September 2007
When you were first approached by Aaron to join The Almost, you denied joining at first because you were involved with Dead Poetic at the time. Eventually you joined, what transpired in between this time?
Actually, what sucks is that when I first turned him down I was with another band, and then we disbanded. To be honest during that time I just sort of hung out and got a legit job for the first time in like six or seven years, and luckily Aaron called me back.
Sweet, so you took him up on the offer at that time?
Yes, I definitely jumped at it!
On Billboard Music; “Southern Weather” is currently at #1 on the Top Christian & Gospel Albums listing and “Say This Sooner” peaked at #7 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks. You’ve been on the charts for 23 weeks! The Almost has hit the scene with full force, gaining lots of momentum; tell me your thoughts on that.
It’s really weird because I’ve never been one to really keep up with the whole Billboard scene. Then our management will call and be like “Hey you guys are top 20 right now!” “Oh you’re top 15!” “Oh you’re top 10!” It’s just like holy crap! It’s almost like I have to see it to believe it. I don’t know it’s pretty crazy, like, it just sort of happened. It’s weird that there is legitimacy on the Modern Rock tracks, and then the record is number one on Christian Rock or whatever. It’s really cool that it isn’t one or the other, but that it’s somehow bridging both.
We know that this was originally Aaron’s project, what’s it like playing his music so to speak?
It’s actually the easiest job I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve known Aaron for the long time and when I first heard the demos I was really, really excited about them. He’s always had a good ear for pop music and melodies and stuff. I wanted to do this with him from the get go. I had so much stuff going on that it made it hard. But, jumping in and playing the other songs, it’s fun, but playing them every night… especially playing them as much as we have… they become personal.
I guess that is what I was wondering. Although this was his writing you’ve all kind of taken on as your own?
Oh yeah, for sure!
You also compose music, what are your driving forces that spark creativity?
To be honest, I listen to a lot of old country music. It’s really funny, I’m from North Carolina, so I prefer to listen to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. If I feel like plucking I’ll just pick up an acoustic guitar and start picking around. I listen to a lot of Ryan Adams, kind of like my man crush! I guess it’s him, Ryan Adams, he’s one of my big influences. He makes me want to write good music.
We know that you and the rest of the band members rely heavily on your faith. Do you ever think about the influence you have on your fans in that respect? Is it one of your goals, or is it just your ever day life, it’s who you are and it just comes across on stage and in your music?
I definitely think it’s more of the latter. We’re not the type of dudes to be preachy or anything like that we’re just being honest… being who we are. I think that definitely came through when Aaron wrote the album, it’s a very honest record. I think it’s kind of cool that he has a band of dudes that see everything the same way he does. Yeah, we’re just five dudes who want to hang out and have a good time. If anything about our faith comes up, we’ll be real about it. We like to hang out, have a beer and shoot pool!
In the same vein, do you ever worry that your openness about your faith might turn fans of another faith/religious practice away?
I don’t know; I really hope not! Like I said we’re not really in your face about it, so hopefully everyone is just in it for good rock music!
We saw you at Bamboozle in NJ this past May. Now you just completed the Vans Warped Tour. Were you readily accepted as a newer band? I mean I know you all have a history of being in bands and touring and such. However, The Almost as a whole, is fairly new. Were you readily accepted on the Vans Warped Tour? It’s such a big thing now.
Yeah, I think so. We had great crowds every day, we hung out with tons of bands and everything was really cool. Everything happened with this band really fast, it just kind of blew up quick. Yeah, Warped Tour was awesome; we had a great time with awesome crowds whether we played at 11 oclock in the morning or 7 oclock at night. It seemed like we had a ton of people who were stoked to see us play.
Speaking of Warped, what are the advantages/disadvantages of bigger tours vs. smaller club tours?
I really, really enjoy the small club tours, those are fun! No barriers on the stage so people are right up against the stage and it’s a more fun atmosphere I think. But, the bigger tours are more fun because you get to do more production, and it’s more of a legitimate show I guess. It all weighs out; it just depends on what the tour is. We just did 9 or ten days after Warped Tour to make up the east coast dates that we missed. That was fun because we played some places that were huge rooms, and then the last night it was 400 people packed into the smallest club in the world. It was like 130° inside. It was like the most fun show on tour I think, for me. Its give and take cause there is nothing like playing in front of a ton of people in a huge awesome theater, or like Warped Tour a huge parking lot full of people.
So far how has it been balancing The Almost with Aaron’s other band Underoath?
I would say it’s been pretty easy. I could see how in other situations it could be worse. Those dudes are all pretty cool about it. Randy our manager actually manages both bands. The only big thing was probably the Warped Tour where we had to figure out what to do, where we took two weeks off. It’s been pretty smooth so far! I think it’s only going to get smoother now that everyone has already adjusted.
I read online that you love Silverchair?
Also, that they gave you quite the inspiration at a show you recently attended. How have they inspired you?
Dude! That band, I have loved that band since they put out “Frog Stomp” and “Tomorrow” when I was a teenager! I was like you guys rule! It was actually on that two week break when I was in Philadelphia that I got to see them at the TLA. It wasn’t a real big place, it only holds like 750-800 people. I got there early with my wife. I never really go to shows anymore; I don’t know I feel just like an old dude. I bought those Silverchair tickets like as soon as they went on sale, I was really excited, my wife really, really loves them too. I’m a big fan of theirs but they put out this new record called “Young Modern” and I wasn’t really feeling it at first. I was kind of worried but excited at the same time, cause I wasn’t super into the record. Then when I saw them they just blew me away, even with all this new stuff! Seeing this live made me LOVE the new CD. That is so cool; I love it when that happens.
Now, you mentioned your wife, I know Aaron is also married, how do you guys stay close? Do the wives come on tour once in a while? How do you balance that?
The first Almost tour before I was in the band, Jamie, Aaron’s wife came out and did merch, so that was good for Aaron. Jamie comes out on tour probably the most out of the wives and girlfriends, because Aaron has the most hectic schedule out of all of us. He’s pretty much been gone for like the past year, and Jamie is super-cool! My wife Amanda came out all last week while we were out finishing up the east coast tour. Jacqueline, Jay’s girlfriend comes out, Rachel, Kenny’s girlfriend came out on Warped Tour. Especially now being in a bus it’s a lot easier because there is more room and we’re not all crammed in a van hating each other and hating our spouses. Haha.
In my research I’ve learned that the band advocates encouraging young people to talk about certain topics that were once considered taboo of sorts to speak about such as depressions, anxiety disorders, cutting and even suicide. Why is this so important to you guys and what got you involved?
There is this guy named Jamie, and he runs a non-profit organization called http://www.myspace.com/towriteloveonherarms” title=”“To Write Love On Her Arms””>“To Write Love On Her Arms” and he was out on Warped Tour all summer. We got hooked up with him and really just started talking to him about why he does what he does, and why we do what we do, and how that correlates to a love for people. It turned out that Aaron had a lot in common with Jamie, and a lot of Jamie’s friends. The way you feel about yourself as a teenager, those are the craziest years of your life! There is always a pressure to be a certain way, to look a certain way, to dress a certain way. We are all about being yourself, and loving yourself. Everybody is a beautiful person! Meeting Jamie was really cool; he actually came out on the road with us. He would speak before we went on. I think he is actually going to come out with us on this Paramore Tour. Jamie is doing something that is really awesome, that we totally believe in. He’s making an impact on people.
Let’s talk about your musical upbringing. What inspired you to get into music?
Growing up, my mom and dad were Dead Heads. I was the only seven year old in my first grade class who had a Gratetful Dead t-shirt. I was into Rock really young. I got into the Beatles really early, and the Stones, Led Zeppelin. It sort of just developed. My mom’s side of the family is all farmers so I grew up on old country music too. Once I got into high school I just really wanted to be in a band. I tried college for a year, and failed cause all I wanted to do was go on tour, then after that it just sort of snowballed, and I’ve been doing it for eight years now.
Also, can you walk me through a couple songs and help explain what you are trying to convey?
I think that the two songs that pretty much tie the whole album in together are the slowest songs on the record. “Amazing Because It Is” – the Amazing Grace song – which is Aaron spilling his faith out. It’s pretty transparent. Then there’s “Dirty and Left Out” – that’s a big one! It’s Aaron just wondering why God gives a crap about him when we are all just terrible people. I think those are the two most strait up more transparent songs that describe everything he is trying to get across.
A light question for you… what are you spinning in your iPod right now?
Ryan Adams, his new record “Easy Tiger”. I’m also listening to the new Circa Survive record which is KILLER. There is something else that is crushing me too… I’m listening to The Abbot Brothers, they are these guys from Raleigh, North Carolina, who are just weird… rowdy… acoustic…not really blue grass but sort of. A bunch of stuff, I usually just put my iPod on “shuffle”.
In closing send a message out to your fans.
Yo, come see us come hang out with us after the show… before the show… whenever you see us. We’re the type of dudes that just like to hang out and have a good time. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of you we’ve met before out on the Paramore Tour!
We’ll be there!