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 '90x and various projects
both on his own and with bands including the C. Gibbs Review and the Morning
"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
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
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
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