Years Of Solo And Band Work Preceded Atlantic Debut
WASHINGTON, DC-The smoky vocals and sage aura that permeate the C. Gibbs Group’s Atlantic debut, “29 Over Me,” belie the fact that artist Christian Gibbs is only 27 years old.
Then again, Gibbs has already lived several musical lives, including a touring stint with Modern English in the early ’90s and various projects both on his own and with bands including the C. Gibbs Review and the Morning Glories.
“Christian has already had the luxury to work out a lot of things most bands go through when they are making their first record,” says Pat Creed, Atlantic senior director of product development. “He had spent many years performing live and perfecting his songwriting skills, so he was able to deliver a fully realized record.”
It was a listen to the independently released C. Gibbs Review album that caught the ear of Craig Kallman, Atlantic executive VP, who says Gibbs’ songwriting is even more profound on “29 Over Me.”
“Rarely do you hear albums that track to track are this deep, this profound,” he says. “We are looking at this as a true artist-development project, which is how we approached Jewel and Duncan Sheik.”
In fact, Atlantic is so keen on Gibbs that it will release “29 Over Me” April 20 at $11.94 list, a price the label reserves for only a few debut projects per year. “We want to ensure people will take a chance on this,” Creed says. “This is a price we use for developing artists we know we really need to make a commitment to and do whatever it takes to get it into people’s hands.”
Those who do take a chance on the album will find an enveloping tapestry of musical introspection stained with themes of betrayal and abandonment. The album and title track are named for a former girlfriend who lived 29 streets uptown from Gibbs’ Lower East Side apartment in Manhattan.
First single “Animals Criminals,” which begins with an indelible falsetto hook, is being shipped to modern rock and triple-A stations. Atlatic will service the entire album to college outlets soon after.
“My music is a pretty cathartic way for me to get stuff off my chest. And betrayal, mostly with the female species, is a commom theme in my life,” Gibbs says without a hint of self-pity. “i’ve been getting a heavy dose of it from an early age on. I don’t really get motivated to write nice songs about people. They are usually pretty melancholy.”
Gibbs also got an early introduction to music. Both of his parents played instruments recreationally – Mom piano and Dad guitar – and Gibbs could confidently play his share of material ranging from Kiss to Fleetwood Mac to Olivia Newton John on the guitar by age 12.
“I got all this stuff from songbooks. It’s nothing I would proudly call an influence today. But that’s what was around the house,” he says.
In a move to free himself from suburban San Diego, Gibbs participated in a college exchange program to London. Soon after he unpacked his bags, he ditched school, answered an ad in the newspaper and found himself playing lead guitar for Modern English on two tours.
“I was 20 years old, and it was great to be in such a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle at such a young age,” he says. “It solidified my desire not to return to school.”
Touring with an already-established outfit also solidified Gibbs’ desire to pursue his own musical path. When the band concluded its U.S. jaunt, he jumped off in New York. “I decided even if I had to do menial jobs, I would write and perfom my own music,” he says.
Gibbs places his early music in the “Dylan-influenced singer/songwriter” ilk. He then segued into a more full-bodied rock band sound with the Morning Glories.
Given the pockets of support that already exists for Gibbs, Atlantic will generate awareness for “29 Over Me” primarily via grass-roots promotions spiraling out from San Diego, Los Angeles and New York. The campaign initially will concentrate on independent retailers and small chains.
“We are being selective about where we showcase the album at retail, with an emphasis on in-store play,” Creed says.
The William Morris Agency is finalizing tour plans that will include an April 21 performance at New York’s Mercury Lounge. Creed says Atlantic is seeking placement of Gibbs’ music on sampler CDs and in TV shows and films.
Gibbs is managed by Los Angeles-based Revolver, and his Eat Your Own Music is published through BMI.
“The album is in the hands of all appropriate music supervisors,” he says. “Now it is a matter of people living with the record long enough and finding the right match.”
-Catherine Applefeld Olson