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Chris Gibbs – More Than A Game

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 6.45.10 PMChris Gibbs launches his new solo album, Big Appetite, this Sunday, March 30, at the Indi Bar with help from China Doll, Why Georgia? and Amy Sugars. BOB GORDON finds out about how the album came to be.

What made you go for a solo album, rather than a Graphic Fiction Heroes album, this time around, given you compose and sing for both?
There were a few reasons. I started recording this album in July last year and it just wasn’t the right time for GFH to be commencing a new recording as we were still working Dan Toal on keys into the lineup. I also knew that I wanted to attempt a recording that was entirely created from start to finish at my home studio. Because I wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out, I used myself as the guinea pig rather than the band. Also, we have established a style with GFH that many of the songs on this recording simply weren’t suitable for.

It’s turned out to be a rockier acoustic album than you initially envisioned – how much of that was intentional and how much was fuelled by its own momentum?
The limitations with the home studio in terms of tracking live drums drove the decision to go acoustic, but during the process I found various ways to create rhythms and strong percussion – some live, some with loops – which in turn presented the opportunity to add more instrumentation. Once that development occurred, I just went for what felt good and what sounded right and that opened up the whole project. It was fortuitous because since then I have tracked live drums for someone else’s project in the home studio and it went really well. Nevertheless the perceived limitations at the time provided a unique way forward and I just trusted the framework. I am much more comfortable with an electric guitar and I have ended up with plenty on the album, so I’m happy!

You’re very consistent with releasing music. Is it important for you to build a volume of work?
Yes but I think the driving force in trying to consistently release music is simply that I keep writing it. A recording is the ultimate diary for a songwriter’s development and progress so if the songs are there my inclination is to ‘make them official’. I do enjoy having so much on offer though. There was a brief period in the mid-2000s where I didn’t release anything because I was still hoping to get Kingpin back on track. Given that there is a final album from that band completed but never released, it became a little stumbling block for me. Once I faced reality in regards to the future of that band, the wheels started to turn again. So since 2009 there’s been the first solo record, the GFH record, an Axe Cane EP and now my new record. I guess I just like being back in the game.

What’s the rest of the year hold (in all of your musical guises?)
Graphic Fiction Heroes will commence tracking drums for a new EP in April with Rob Agostini at Soundbaker, which I’m very excited about. We have a good system with the band where after drums, the rest is tracked at my place and then it all goes back to Rob for final mixes. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of equipment to buy before I’d trust myself mixing a fully-tracked GFH recording, but I’ll do a couple of dummy-runs anyway for the experience. Meanwhile, I’ll be promoting Big Appetite with a kind of freeform lineup. I have a selection of musicians in mind to work with live, most of whom are performing with me at the launch, but they won’t always be available. So the idea is to have a few options for the main instruments and just see where it takes us.

I am very happy with the current Graphic Fiction Heroes lineup and I enjoy that solidarity, so the delineation that I now require to make the solo project a separate entity will come from a slightly more relaxed approach to presenting my solo work live, which I am very much looking forward to. It’s also a big year for me at WAAPA, I’ve been given more classes to teach than ever before which is great. The home studio is kicking along, I recently completed Matt Waring’s EP and there are two other projects on the go with another in the pipeline, plenty to do there. I’ll certainly be hoping to pull on the space boots as Fake Frehley in KissTake too. In the meantime it’s business as usual: have guitar, will play!