Gadabout, raconteur, ne’er-do-well-er. Gregarious and fecund. An artist who has said his dream is to be the American Susan Boyle with an album title (Dirty Red Pagan) suggested by Andy Partridge of XTC.
Gilbert Neal is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with a uniquely imaginative multi-genre style that’s refreshingly difficult to categorize. In addition to his contributions as an indie rock solo artist, his adventurous, exploratory spirit has even found him in a Genesis tribute band and a country music line-dance band.
Born in Buffalo, NY and currently based in North Carolina, Gilbert Neal has performed in various bands, jazz ensembles and theater productions throughout the years. However, at the heart of it, Gilbert is first and foremost a songwriter, with most of his lyrics being quite personal, telling a specific story or referring to a particular incident. Thematically, Gilbert is inspired by religion, politics, sex, loss and parental love. His sometimes quirky songs can be tongue-in-cheek, theatrical and somewhat socialist, frequently weaving in sexual, and godless messages in the lyrics. Gilbert says he strives to make each album 1) a cohesive piece of work and 2) guaranteed to possibly make a fantastic musical!
Gilbert has been writing and singing in bands since he was 12. From an early age, it never occurred to him not to be able to play and sing at the same time, write harmonies, and arrange music. For his solo debut, “Drink The Beast With Me” (2006), Gilbert worked with a full band for the first time. Since then, he has focused more on orchestrating the majority of the musical elements with his own artistic vision. His most recent musical outputs incorporates pieces of all of his various musical experience including jazz, funk, soul and prog rock, often with a healthy sprinkle of musical theater. (He has been a musical director for a dinner theater and has a degree in vocal performance/music theory.)
Gilbert has been inspired by an eclectic mix of musicians ranging from XTC and Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan, Radiohead and the Les Humphries Singers. His current band features Gilbert on vocals, piano, guitar and bass, Steve Camilleri on drums, Darrelll Nutt on percussion, Marko Marisic on additional guitar, and Pamela Henderson on backing vocals.
What was the first song you ever performed?
“Honey Don’t” by Carl Perkins, at a talent show in Elma, NY. 3rd place. $10.
What are your musical influences?
David Bowie, XTC, The Beatles, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, and Stevie Wonder. Steely Dan. The sound of slapping skin.
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
Turn around. Have fun with your friends. Sit around and write if you must, but don’t be in a cover band. It’s a soul-sucking fiasco. You may be lured into being in that G-n-R tribute band, but don’t. They’re not cheering for you. They’re cheering because the jukebox seems sentient. SEEMS.
If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?
I would not rely on anyone but myself. I would never sit back and wait. If I had it to do all over again, the fact is that I wouldn’t be a singer if my life was/is a happy one.
What would be your advice to artists that are new to the touring circuit?
Have fun. Take nothing seriously except promptness and the fact that no one in the room has to be there. No matter how many or how few.
What are 3 things that you have to have with you at all times/never leave home without?
Talent, a witty remark, and deodorant.
How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard you before?
You and I are in an elevator. You’re a pretty girl. Our awkward conversation, in hindsight, is the way you remember me. You report me to HR. They ask you what happened. Put a beat to your response.
As a child growing up, music surrounds us; What type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
The Beatles. Also, the ritual of investing every cent into my next vinyl purchase. Now, everything is so cheap and easy. But the smell of a real vinyl copy of Steely Dan’s “Aja” album. Mmmmm…..
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Still not sure I do. But not sure I do not. I need a big break. 9-5 is a planet with amazingly powerful gravity.
If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?
Funky, Sad, Adult Poetry
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry what would it be?
It seems like the more people have a means by which to publish and distribute music, the cheaper it is, and the more sleazy one has to become to be a star. So I would go back to the 70’s where even an ugly guy like me could eke out a hit or two. I look like Christopher Cross.
Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
I host a radio show on WHUPFM.org (a real live terrestrial radio station!) called “D-Sides, Orphans, and Oddities” that features obscure music and musicians from 1965-1979.
As an artist, how would you define SUCCESS?
I don’t know. I used to think that if one person you never met make an effort to tell you they liked your music, that was enough. But it’s not. I think for me, success would be to get revenge/victory over people who doubted I could do it.
Do you currently have an agent, endorsement, record label, sponsor, etc?
I have a record label, Wampus Media (wampus.com), out of Virginia, as well as a publicist, Wendy Ford out of California.
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