Devil City Angel's Brandon Gibbs
By Jay Oakley
The debut record for Devil City Angels is coming out, how do you guys feel about it?
I feel really strong about that record. I think that's a very good tip-of-the-hat to all of our influences and also creating something new and modern sounding as well. Yet, in the writing of that some of the songs we got to do were songs that I'd done previously in my very first band, called the Gibbs Brothers, so getting to revisit some of those songs and adding to them and not being afraid to add harmonies and stuff like that was exciting for me. I thought, let's experiment a little bit, if it sounds good then it sounds good. A good song is a good song and there's a lot of songs on there that you might not expect guys like us to come out with. It's just a little bit different then what people might expect but still gives them the rush that they're going to want and open their ears up to some new sounds.
When it came to the writing, other then the songs you had already brought from your previous band, how did the writing go? Did it flow well with everyone?
I come from a very bluesy background, even as a guitar player, I bring a bluesy influence to it and vocals and harmonies and stuff like that. It wasn't like feeling we need to scream louder then the next person it was like, "Do your thing, Brandon!" and when I wrote I would kind of do some story telling. Sometimes Rikki (Rockett, drummer) would do a little story telling and hit notes and Tracii (Guns, guitarist) always had these really great riffs to start out these new songs and we would kind of build off that. Sometimes, someone would play a simple A cord or variation of it and suddenly I'd get this idea of a guy sitting at a bar talking about a lady and he's dying to tell her that he's in love with her but she's obsessed with this rich guy that doesn't care about her. Yeah know, I had movie scripts going through my head when my pen was in my hand.
But, it was difficult touring and writing at the same time because you think you're going to get on the bus and sit down and work on a lot of stuff but then you might do an interview, you might do a meet and greet so that was one difficult part but we managed to get through it.
When it comes to the band itself and something your fans might be curious about. If you're willing to elaborate on it, you started off with Eric (Brittingham) on bass and now you've got Rudy (Sarzo.) Was that a conscious group decision or did Eric have some other things he was working on?
Eric made that decision on his own. We're all grown men with kids and life gets in the way. Meaning, sometimes it's better to be local for a minute and take care of what you need to take care of. We respect the hell out of his decision to take it and ground it back where he's living. He played on the whole entire record so we finished that. I found out from our manager that he wasn't going to come back and that they'd hired Rudy. I respect his decision to move on with life, period and you can't blame a guy for following his heart.
What do you guys have coming up right now? Do you have touring, either in the States, over seas or both?
We've had some offers. At this point we're really anxious to see if people like the record as much as we do. Walmart is working with us which is great and we did several dates and two separate tours and what we want to see is, are fans going to like our approach to writing and rock the way we see it. If they do, we're doing to tour behind it and push it. We're kind of letting it marinate right now. Another thing about thing about this group that I think is cool and others people might think we can't do that is we are all working and active in the music industry. For instance, I've just finished about three weeks of fly dates with Rikki where we do special appearances acoustically and those have been going well, Tracii has a band and he's been pushing some new sounds, he's actually out with Rudy Sarzo so we're really proud of him for going out and keeping busy and I also work with the guys from Poison and sing for those guys when they want to do shows. It's kind of cool when we're all rooting each other on regardless if its off together. You don't really hear that anymore and if our record does well and people in the music industry likes it or the fans then we're all back on a bus.
For people that are curious, when it came to Rudy and Tracii's project, you were referring to the Gunzo band correct?
Yeah, I believe they're doing Gunzo and I think they include Tracii's L.A. Guns in some of those venues. I really don't know but I know Gunzo well because my old guitar tech (Shane Fitzgibbon) is now his drummer. He's a fantastic drummer and deserves to be on the road so I know that one more then the L.A. Guns one. Tracii's doing his thing. He's a great guitar player and I'm doing solo stuff. I have a solo record I'm just now talking about perusing. A lot of my stuff doesn't necessarily fit Devil City Angels or other projects. So yeah, he's in a band, I'm in a band, we're all in a band and we're all in a band together and to me it's great because I like watching what everyone's doing.
What can you tell us about the work you're doing with Poison under the Special Guests name? How did you fall in to that? Was that a Rikki thing, with Bret (Michaels) wanting to do something separate? However much you choose to talk about it, I'd love to hear it.
I've known Rikki personally for close to 14 years now. I used to open for Poison from time to time with my first band. We became friends and we'd talk gear throughout the years. Then there'd be a year that we wouldn't really say much because my band was trying to break into the club scene and he's touring the big leagues, I guess you'd say but we always got back o the same page every time when we'd meet up. To me that's how you measure a true friend. Life gets in the way, I understand but when we do see each other we run across the room and it's like, "What's up, man!" and we get the video cameras out and do funny stuff the whole time. So, he pulled me aside and asked what I thought about singing for CC, Bobby and him for real. I was like, "Of course, it's an honor." and I absolutely wanted to explore this. I wanted to make them happy to be out on the road and playing these songs and much as I was happy watching them do them when I was a kid. I felt they deserved it and they'd been sitting stagnant for several years if they wanted me to step up and give it my best shot they had my complete cooperation.
So I talked to several people in the camp we put the guitars on, went into rehearsal and I spent a week learning. I knew the songs, just learning what my nitch was on stage. Keep in mind, with Devil City Angels I was there from the ground up and with this it's 30 years in the making and I'm stepping into a situation where I can't mimic somebody. Out of respect, I will not mimic anybody. I want to give it "my" best shot, give them what their ears hear but not physically give them what they've seen before and just give them Brandon Gibbs. They were so open to that. After the week, Bobby, him and I got really close and he's like, "Guess what? You start in 2 or 3 weeks." I was like, "We have a show?" and he said, "We do and you're on it." So we hung back and didn't say much and even my family didn't know what I was doing. I just wanted to make sure it was a legit thing before I went and told people that I have yet another group. [Laughs] So, Monsters Of Rock invited us to make an appearance and show this sucker off and so we did and away we went. We have a handful of shows under our belt and we're learning more about each other. I'm 30 so there's a little bit of a gap, I've missed time with them, ya know. But we're learning. We're learning how to roll with each other and we even do a version of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" that's kind of unique. We don't reinvent it but it's just unique. We go almost acoustic just like the beginning part of the record, then strip it down to just me and the keyboard player, then when the band comes in it just blows you away. That was one thing we created in rehearsal that was for the fans so they don't think we're just rolling the set list out and going through the motions. They see that we really are working on it and we were working on it and still are working on it.
I don't know how much more we have. We're kind of slipping out of touring season so I just think we respect each other, we're all friends, we've been friends for a really long time and as long as they want to play their songs and get out there play the guitar and drums and play the catalog they have my complete cooperation and it's an honor.
If the opportunity were to present itself with that group to record, even if it was something like a 7 song EP, is that something you'd want to do? Or would you prefer to keep the Poison stuff already recorded?
It's funny you say that. We've talked several times about a song. Let's keep that open, a new song, written from the ground up that's not a cover and let's see how it turns out. I've talked to Bobby about it and CC's an amazing writer and we've said, "Hey man, what do you think about doing that?" So, it's funny you should say that because that's something that could very well be in the cards for us.
That's really, really cool. So to bring things full circle back with the Devil City Angels and everything you have going with that. Speaking from the feeling of Brandon Gibbs, are you happy with everything?
I'm real happy with everything. The record was a piece of my soul that I through out there. Being the lyrical guy on this I really wanted to hit a home run and make sure that these hooks were great and that there wasn't a song on there that was a filler. That I'm proud of and everything right down to the artwork I think it says who we are. There's a mystique about the Devil City Angels that is intriguing to me and I hope we continue to right because the songs are spot on. Of course, I'm bias but I just like them a lot. I love Tracii's playing, Eric did an outstanding job and Rudy's going to do a great job because he's Rudy Sarzo and watching Rikki Rockett step outside his band for the first time in his life and play different songs progress on the drums because there are songs that we all have to push ourselves a little bit and so I'm very happy and I wish I could snap my fingers right now and say I've got a tour for you right this second but there is a little bit of mystique going on with how this record is going to do in today's rock world and we really just want to see that so see we can either adjust ourselves or maybe just say say well we got our thing down. It's a new day and age and we're open to suggestions about what we need to do to become a better band and better performers. It's a good group and I love saying I'm the singer for Devil City Angels. It's a great rock band.
Thank you so much for taking the time to fill everyone in on what's going on with Devil City Angels and Poison and just you in general and I hope you enjoyed your interview.
I did, man. We'll share it for you. Have a great weekend.