It’s not proper to assume, but you may think that many musicians go on tour to get away from the wife and kids for a while. Brooklyn singer/songwriter Christian Gibbs is flipping that script, bringing his family of three with him on the road to support his upcoming (March 26) album “Sleep The Machines.”
“For this tour, we have a baby now, and he was two weeks old when I presented the idea to my wife because I knew she probably wouldn’t let me go on tour otherwise,” said Gibbs. “This is my escape, so I had to think outside the box a little bit. How can I still go on tour to support this record, even though I have a two month old kid and a three year old? So I asked my wife to come with me.”
She agreed, and with the couple’s two kids in two, the Gibbs family will be hitting the road, beginning with Thursday’s gig at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. A Kickstarter campaign is also underway to help with touring expenses and the manufacturing of vinyl copies of the new album, and at the end of this voyage Gibbs and his bride will be documenting the entire trip in a book. It’s not the first time the clan has hit the road together though, as a European trek by Gibbs saw him with some company as well.
“I took them to Europe with me last summer, and my wife was pregnant and we had our three-year-old,” he said. “We got paid some decent guarantees over there, and it was fun. They got to check out some sights when I went on the smaller dates, and then we had a home base in Zurich, and I would take them with me on the festival dates, which were the bigger shows.”
And though the stereotypical “rock and roll lifestyle” would be cramped by such an arrangement, for Gibbs, it was something he wouldn’t trade for the world.
“To me, I guess I’m a little self-consumed than I used to be and that’s kinda why I like having them on tour with me too,” said Gibbs of fatherhood. “We’d be somewhere in the French part of Switzerland on a summer tour and they’d have a water park there where kids could play, and I’d be playing with my kid and then people would be like ‘hey Christian, you’re supposed to be on stage right now.’ Where before I’d be like ‘what pants am I gonna wear,’ or ‘what’s my setlist gonna be,’ and I’d be all nervous. Then I was like ‘okay, I get to do this thing I’ve gotta do that pays for all this stuff.’ So I like that fact of it. (Rolling Stones drummer) Charlie Watts said 95 percent of the music business is waiting around, and this way I get to wait around with the kids.”
Writing on his Kickstarter page, Gibbs said “I want to leave the impression on my kids that following your dreams is vital to happiness. I need to live by example by following mine.” And now he’s doing that, even though life is never easy for a solo touring musician. Luckily, he’s got a great back catalog, an impressive new album, and the love of the game that keeps him moving forward.
“I still see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize,” he said. “I can’t seem to put the guitar down and I don’t know if I’d be happy just playing guitar in my bedroom, so I gotta bring it outside to people. I want to keep making records and I think if I just put them out and didn’t tour behind them, I don’t know if as many people would hear them. It’s just a love of music and wanting to do it. Sometimes I’m happiest just being on stage.”
With “Sleep The Machines,” Gibbs’ songs are as personal and hard-hitting as ever, but this time, he’s bringing everything down a notch with a stripped down effort suggested to him by producer Andrew Hollander.
“When I’m at home, I don’t really pick up the electric guitar that often,” he said. “I have an acoustic guitar in each room of my apartment, just ready to be played because I love playing acoustic guitar. I’m really into fingerpicking and dropped tunings, and John Fahey, Mississippi John Hurt, and Mance Lipscomb, a lot of those old blues guys. I had some songs kicking around that I thought were best served in that medium. And I never had the discipline to actually do it myself because I was like I’ve got to compete with all the young bucks out there who have the synthesizers on the record and the full band and all that, and people are really accustomed to a more produced sound nowadays to get on the radio. But he (Andrew Hollander) said ‘Why don’t we do an all-acoustic record,’ and it was through his suggestion that gave me the courage to do it.”
It was a good call, as Gibbs seamlessly fits into an acoustic space that lets his voice, guitar, and storytelling truly shine through, and in describing the finish product, he says “If I had a record that I could put in my pocket and carry around, this would probably be it.”
Now it’s time to rev up that RV and take this show on the road and maybe lay the groundwork for another couple musicians to eventually emerge from the family. Or maybe not.
“Why not show them what it’s like too,” he said of bringing his kids on the road. “Maybe with our luck they’ll become doctors or lawyers instead of musicians because they won’t like it so much. (Laughs)”
Christian Gibbs plays Joe’s Pub on Thursday, March 7. For tickets, click here
For information on Christian Gibbs’ Kickstarter campaign, click here