Recently I reviewed an album called “Buffalo Hotel” by an amazing artist named Geoff Gibbons. I couldn’t stop listening and afterwards went back a few years to take a listen to some of his previous work. I must say he has a natural born talent and it’s a pleasure to have been asked to feature him here. Geoff is from Vancouver, British Columbia and I hope he will tour the states so we can meet face to face because his music is addictive. Below is a recent “Candid Conversation” on a few topics we missed during our album review.
NMG – Some of my readers are calling you a modern day storyteller. Do you feel that it applies to you and if so how does it make you feel?
Gibbons – Well that suits me just fine. I was weaned on the classic songwriters of the 70’s so I think that form comes to my writing naturally. Songs have to make sense to me…I was never one to write a bunch of thoughts and let the music carry it and leave the listener to figure out what the colors meant…though that works great for some. An album like Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” was one of my big influence records. Sharp images like photographs.. “Sitting in a park in Paris France reading’ the news and it sure looks bad” or “My fingernails are filthy I got beach tar on my feet” .. Harry Chapin “It was raining hard in ‘Frisco I needed one more fare to make my night” I’m drawn to that kind of imagery coupled with interesting use of language… John Prine ..”There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes” .. love that stuff!
NMG – When you toured the south and visited places in Alabama and TN, specifically Memphis, Nashville and Florence/Muscle Shoals you said you were not only inspired but that you were “altered” ….can you elaborate?
Gibbons – Coming from way up here in Vancouver Canada…the south felt like a universe away in the days before the internet. When I was a kid I would read the album covers, see the players, the producers the location of the recording. Places like Muscle Shoals and Memphis were mysteries to us…for that matter a lot of the south was kind of mysterious ..like listening to The Allman Brothers “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” It evoked images..thick and beautifully strange. I revelled in that stuff…all that great music that shaped our lives, so much of it was recorded within that 5 hour radius. To physically visit the places where that music was created was a kind of redemption ..a validation that these places of dreams really existed…I tried to bring the dream back home and inject it into Buffalo Hotel.
NMG – If you could go back to the beginning of your career, knowing what you know now about the industry is there any thing you would do differently and if so what would it be?
Gibbons – Damn Sherryl!..I’d practice more!..Seriously…You know the industry has completely changed since I first started. There used to be a kind of protocol. You got what you thought was good enough, then you tried to convince an A&R guy at a record label that you were worth investing in.. if you were lucky you could make a record and perhaps tour. it kind of weeded out a lot of the half-hearted. Those days are long gone.
Music was a service, then it became a product, now it’s a service again.. and there is very little scratch out there in recorded music for 95% of the artists. The field is flooded with material, it’s half impossible to get noticed and even if you do get noticed it’’s hard to figure out what to do with it. I guess my years have taught me that ..You gotta believe in what you’re giving the people whole heartedly…it’s got to be from your heart…and you got to mean it…only then do you connect with anyone who takes a little of their precious time to listen to your story.
NMG – How did the title of “Buffalo Hotel” come to be and can you tell me about the overall story behind the album?
Gibbons – As most albums do..this one started out with a pile of material, probably 25 songs in different states of completion. I knew it was time to put this thing together so I started that harsh criticism process of the material and compiling the short list. I got the chosen songs to about 50% completion in my studio then brought in my friend and esteemed producer John Ellis to help me complete the record. John’s sensibilities and mine are very similar but John is also a sought after session guitarist and pedal steel guitarist as well as being an amazing producer. The record took on this warm vibe of days gone by with a modern feel…we felt like we had captured that thing that certain albums from the 70’s had. John had also been to Muscle Shoals so he got the ghost too. The name Buffalo Hotel came from a mix of the characters in the songs all together in one place and from the title “Me and Buffalo Bill” which was a lyric that was started by a family friend and given to me when I was 15 years old. Hence..Buffalo Hotel.
NMG – There were two of your earlier releases that I am hooked on. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about each song? “Can’t Curse the Rain” and Bone’s On The Road”…….
Gibbons– Wow..time machine…”Can’t Curse the Rain” is from my first solo project in the 90’s. It features guitar virtuoso Robbie Steininger on Dobro (who co-produced that album) The video was in an empty old building in downtown Vancouver. That song was simply written about the hard times and pain being the time of reflection and as we rise from those tough situations we find we are often more whole human beings.
“Bones on The Road” from my second album Love Tattoos is about those times when you feel you are so lost you might not find your way back. In the video the shaman has the answer ..but the protagonist cannot see him.. he’s cursed to search and wander.
Songs are reflections of times in your life whether you wrote them or heard them and made them your own…Like most of us.. I have struggled with my insecurities, gotten down, and been angry that I wasn’t given the keys to what I thought was success at certain times in my life and career. These two songs were born from those times, and written as a kind of therapy.
I guess it all comes back to being honest with yourself and giving back what you believe to be true…probably the best definition of success.
NMG – What are your plans for the rest of this year and will you be working toward a tour in the States anytime in the near future?
Gibbons – I have a number of projects I’m working on up here in Canada eh! That is what is front and center right now along with some live dates here and there. Would love to come and play in the States…have to find a way to make that one work!
For more information on Geoff Gibbons please visit https://www.geoffgibbons.com/ and check out all the latest news.