Given that today just happens to be October 24th, what a better way to celebrate than to talk with our friend Brandon Gibbs about his recent E.P. release, “October Twenty Four.” During our conversation, Brandon tells us the meaning of the album’s title and gives us in-depth insight to each of the five songs that make up the record. If you are familiar with the songs of the record, you may listen to them in a whole different way after you read this. If you haven’t heard the record yet, you will find links at the end of the interview that you will want to click! Without further delay, happy October Twenty Four!!!
The Music Room: Okay, let’s start with the obvious question….why October Twenty Four? What is the significance to naming your E.P. this?
Brandon Gibbs: It kind of goes back to the passing of my grandparents. Anyone who has followed my career, with my tattoos and what not…they all know there is some link to my grandparents and what they mean to me. They are very special people. They were very instrumental in getting my career to where it needed to be. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have made that first show. I would have not driven across the country to play anywhere because we couldn’t do it.
Essentially, the time of death of my grandmother was ten o’clock and twenty-four minutes in the morning. My brother, who is a police officer that I speak a lot about at shows…he was there with her. He told me that ten twenty-four in police code means mission complete. He also had a very special relationship with them, so when he told me that I was like wow…just wow. At the time my career had taken so many twists and turns. One minute you’re doing this and the next minute you’re doing that. I chalk it up to ever-changing. It’s always changing. Each day we get up and we answer e-mail or phone calls and we don’t know where we are going to end up. I like that. And I have always loved the feel of October. I like putting a jacket on and going out with the leaves changing. So ten twenty-four kind of puts it all together. Its a tribute to my grandmother in the best way that I could do it without saying this is a tribute to my grandmother. Everyone here in the Gibbs family understands it and that means a lot to me. That’s October Twenty Four.
TMR: In a day and age where there are so many opinions on the merit of making new music, what was it that made you want to release this record?
BG: In everything that I’ve ever done, I have always kept Brandon Gibbs parallel. I always kept that career parallel. When I first moved to Tenessee for a while we lived in a hotel. I was trying to get things going and all I had to rely on was my E.P. “Into the Ocean.” ESPN came around and surprised the living hell out of me with a song I didn’t think was going to do anything called “This Town.” Ever since that moment that got us out of the hotel and into a home. I have always thought that whatever goes on….whatever happens here, I have to keep truckin’ as a solo artist. I have to keep that door open. Sometimes it’s going to be big. Sometimes it’s going to be not so big. But I have to keep creating music. I have these ideas that don’t always necessarily work with everyone else. So I did “Into the Ocean” and had success with that song. I think we did three seasons with ESPN. Then I went on to tour with Cheap Thrill for two or three years. Then I got an actual record deal with the Devil City Angels, but I said you have to do another solo record. You have to keep that going. It’s a lot of work and it confuses people at times…you know, what’s he doing? He’s all over the place. Really, I’m betting on myself in every single scenario.
TMR: It works out great for the fans. I know when I listened to the E.P. for the first time, I got a little something different out of each song. It was kind of like each song showed a certain side of you. At least that is what I got. It’s certainly not a one-track kind of deal. It’s not five rockers back to back to back or all singer-songwriter type vibe.
BG: Yeah, and the first solo record is the same deal. It’s almost like I need to go visit certain parts of my life that maybe once devastated me or maybe once thrilled me to death, or those times when I felt that I had nothing left to give. I have to go visit those spots when I write as just Brandon Gibbs. There’s a certain satisfaction there. It’s like all of this wasn’t for nothing. That’s my whole idea behind “October Twenty Four.” It’s basically a sneak peek of my last three and a half or four years of my career as Brandon, or with Devil City, or my involvement with The Special Guests, Cheap Thrill…anything. All the bumps and hurdles. The relationships. The grieving…we lost several people that were close to us during these tours and shows. I had to go touch on them. I couldn’t let them go. I have to get it out at some point and it doesn’t always come in a uniform manner. Let’s make a great rock record! Yeah, I get it and I understand that you want the great rock record but what I’m going to give you is a container with seasoning. It’s got pepper…it’s garlic and celery and whatever. It’s everything that I’ve ever liked and I’m going to put it on there because I cannot not put it on there. I have to be that kind of writer.
Honestly, Tony, it’s opened up doors. Sometimes I can open more by playing with Michael McDonald as Brandon Gibbs with my songs. I’m going out with Alice Cooper on March 13th doing an arena as Brandon Gibbs. Someone is getting something from all of these things…not just the one thing. I have opened my fan base, I believe anyway, by writing by feeling and not hey man, this is where I need to go. I just sit here and say what’s next? What’s next? What’s going to come in next? If I stop moving forward the answer is nothing.
George Thorogood once told me this, do you want to know the formula? He pulled me backstage and said do you want to know the formula? I thought to myself, thank you! Someone is going to give me the key…the formula in just a matter of minutes after I opened up for him. He said, do you want to know it? I said yes, please!! He said okay, I’m going to tell you. Are you ready for this? He says, GO FIGURE IT OUT. I was like okay…good talk. And he goes, I love you guys. I think you can go figure it out. Then the managers came in and got him ready for the show. I was back at the hotel going what does that mean? I know what that means. It’s a custom design for everybody. If you think it’s going to be handed to you, you’re dead wrong. It was a great lesson. The go figure it out stuck with me and that’s what I’m doing.
TMR: Well, since it is actually October 24th, I thought it would be fun to celebrate your latest record. What I would like to do is to go through the five songs that make up the record and get a thought or inspiration from you on each one. Just something you might want to share about each one of the tracks from the record.
BR: Yeah man, let’s do it.
TMR: We’ll start with the opening track, “Just Say.” You actually worked with Michael Wagener on this one, right?
BG: I was on the Monsters of Rock cruise ship as solo Brandon. I woke up one day and had a note that said Michael Wagener was doing a recording seminar. I had the day off and I was really sick…I was not doing well. So I said I’ll bundle up…like you need to bundle up on a cruise. But I did and went to the seminar. There was Great White and members of Skid Row…all of these wonderful artists. I remember Eddie Trunk interviewing him and at the end of the interview, Eddie asked him, who are you working with next? Michael goes, well, I can tell you who I would like to work with. He said I created a contest and someone submitted this guy’s song and if he’s here… Every artist in there was thinking, maybe someone submitted my song. He said, if he’s here, I would like to work with Brandon Gibbs. It was my birthday. It just ignited a fire. So I did “Just Say.”
I wrote it around relationships. How sometimes things get so far crazy and just a fresh start is a great thing. If we just say what we mean. It’s exactly what we do with family. It’s what we do with best friends. It’s what we do with girlfriends and wives. You hold on to something for three or four days and you don’t even know what the hell you’re pissed about anymore. So the song “Just Say” is just a jab at that ego that makes you hold onto things.
TMR: Okay, the next track on the album is “His Name.” I know this song has touched a lot of people already. What can you tell us about it?
BG: “His Name” was a tough song for me to write but at the same time the words kind of poured out of me. It is written about Shelby’s counsin…my daughter. Shelby’s cousin passed away at five and a half, six months in his sleep. It was the worst phone call that I have ever received in my life. As I’m preparing to go pay my respects this idea came into my head of, what do you say? I had been to plenty of funerals, but none like this. So I am thinking what can I say when I get there? There’s nothing to say. There are the programmed things that you are taught over the years… you know, with good intentions. “Don’t say I’m sorry for your loss, don’t say I’m sending all our prayers.” You say these things. My whole outlook in the song is, don’t say. As I went through the line and I met up with the parents, I could see statues of people. Their souls were not there. They were so hurt. It was almost like shaking hands and a hug was so automated, you know? They couldn’t deal with it and they couldn’t feel. I couldn’t figure out what to say. On my way home, I had about a four and a half hour drive, on the drive I thought, you just need to say his name. Just say his name and spark up a memory and give me two or three. You know I’ll take that any day. Just say his name. You know people have good intentions. We’ve all been there. It was just a song that came to me and I dedicate it to the honor of this young man and his two devastated parents.
TMR: The next track is “The Hero.” I have heard you talk about this one before, but please share with our readers what this one is about to you.
BG: “The Hero” intertwines with several things. Believe it or not, it intertwines with me being completely exhausted from the road and just needing a break. It also intertwines with a scenario that I watched my twin brother go through as a police officer when he took me for a ride-along. There was a seven-year-old walking across the street and she got hit by a car. It was my day to hang out with my brother and see what he did. We were the first responders. He broke through a crowd of people. I had played music with Brent. I knew that Brent. I never knew Officer Brent so much. He broke through a crowd of people and kneeled down on the pavement and spoke with this girl. She was scared and hurt…obviously, it was the worst day of her life. She wanted her parents. He knelt down and prayed with her. Instantly I saw my brother become Superman. People gathered around and didn’t know what to do. He knew everything to do. Once he got done with that young lady he got up and walked to the squad car and he just put his head in his hands. I just stood there and thought, this is what my brother sees every day. The words, “I need a hero” just came. I finished that song rather easily. I back the first responders and The Blue very much. They see some stuff that would make anyone else go crazy.
TMR: The next song is “Talk Softly.” What are your thoughts on this one?
BG: “Talk Softly” touches a little bit on a southern rock vibe that I’ve always listened to. Some Allman Brothers, some Skynyrd…I just wanted a feel good, almost country rock song. I wrote this song with my twin brother years ago and I redid it with his permission. I asked if I could re-write the song again and make it just a story. At the end of the night…you know anyone who’s ever been in a serious relationship that didn’t work out, you get almost haunted by a sentence or a phrase that the person would say to you. You know, I remember when she would say that. You know, his girlfriend went off to college and he was heartbroken. And then we get older and we have more relationships and more lyrics to the song. And I got to add a little slide guitar, which is something I’ve always wanted to do on a record. And just keep that windows rolled down October vibe.
TMR: The album then ends up with the song, “Walk Away.” This is a great bluesy number. I really enjoy this one a lot. Tell us about it.
BG: “Walk Away” is again about the last three or four years. As a musician, or rock star or whatever they call you…you are all over the place and you don’t always make it home on time. You don’t always make the right choices. I wrote that song like if I could talk to an ex or someone that I wish I could rekindle things with. It would be this letter in telling them I know things are crazy, and maybe I didn’t contribute any goodness at the time, but you did mean a lot to me and I think about you often and wish you would rethink everything. Maybe I can change it all tomorrow, but for tonight don’t walk away. It’s just a personal thing. I’ve never written a song that’s been so sad, but so much fun to play out. When I opened up for Michael McDonald I took this song out and gave it a test. It was just a way to say, maybe we’re not done. Maybe I can fix this, but maybe it requires effort on my part to fix this. Effort I didn’t apply before. The beginning is my feelings and the end could be a solution.
TMR: That is really cool. I really appreciate you sharing this with us. I can’t wait to go back and listen to the record again with your insight in mind. It will be kind of like hearing it for the first time again.
BG: Oh man, I always enjoy talking with you. Let’s put out some more records and do some more interviews…that’s what we do.
TMR: I like it, man. I am looking forward to seeing you on November 8th at The Firehouse in Richmond, IN with Every Mother’s Nightmare.
BG: We were there two or three months ago with Michael Sweet. We had a great show and they are bringing me back with Every Mother’s Nightmare, whom I worked with back in my Cheap Thrill days. I’m going to go through some songs and stories. It will be kind of like what we’re doing right now. It’s a great venue with great food and great drinks and just a great stage. It’s going to be a blast.