Finding comfort in performing under many different names (Lucinda Black Bear, The Droves, Cardia Bros, etc) Motherwell Johnston is the latest phantom C. Gibbs is simultaneously escaping and embracing. The freedom of disguise and obscurity are themes explored on this album sung with sometimes a cathartic caterwaul and at other times with the gentle falsetto of a northern soul, often within the same song. A fan in Zurich described Motherwell Johnston as “Prince meets Crazy Horse.” Other tracks veer into more experimental textures.
“C. Gibbs Sings Motherwell Johnston” is an attempted eradication of those voices and identities vying for space within the confines of a singular being. A revisiting apparition that once began as a benign shadow, has now become a frequent visitor and needs it’s own voice to be heard. The more you deny its presence the louder it screams.
Probably his most schizophrenic but unified album to date, the latter is due to an impeccable and soulful band consistent throughout the album. Tim Kuhl of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (aka Sean Lennon) is on drums and percussion. Matt Brandau from The Old Ceremony carries the low end with artful aplomb to the haunting and ferocious pedal steel of Philip Sterk. Gibbs chose’s electric guitars, octavers, moog, and organ as his arsenal for this record. The psychedelic interplay of effect-laden guitars and outer space pedal steel prove to be a good combination. Recorded over a span of two years the songs were conceived through an experiment of loops and repetition in a rehearsal room Gibbs had in back of Glasslands (a music venue in Brooklyn). What began as a quirky one-man experiment soon gave birth to some infectious powerful songs brought to life with the rock swagger of his new recruits. The band began recording shortly thereafter at Grand Street Recording with engineer Ken Rich.
Gibbs past musical credits have seen him fronting the band Lucinda Black Bear which has garnered accolades for their album “ ‘Capo My Heart’ and other Bear Songs” on NPR, Paste, and WFUV. He also performed in The Broadway Rock Musical Passing Strange and the movie directed by Spike Lee of the same name. Before he was of drinking age Gibbs also had a brief stint as a lead guitarist for a “one hit wonder” 4AD English band while living in London. After a US tour and being refused admission back in the UK he moved to NYC where he started the seminal post punk rock trio Morning Glories. Gibbs then signed to Atlantic Records but kept releasing albums post -Atlantic on other labels eventually starting his own Eastern Spurs Recordings which he runs to this day.
Gibbs recently has entered the arena of actor / monologist / theater performer dividing his time between Switzerland and NY for the better part of 2014 and 2015 in a show called Love and Happiness (Gessnerrallee Theater/ Zurich, Kaserne Theater, Basel, Arsenic Theater, Lausanne).