R.A.T.W.   Page 7




the hip

Birmingham, England never was the sort of place for raising flowers or mild-mannered people; it’s a mill town, one of the greyer, dingier cities in Britain. People work hard and they play hard; the music of Birmingham is loud pounding and intense, reflecting the city that runs on pistons. Consider, if you will, the bands that have emerged from the teeth of the city into the jaws of the world: The Move, Black Sabbath, Bedlam, ELO ( the early version) and now, the Steve Gibbons Band.

It’s easy to call the Gibbons Band an ‘overnight success’, but the truth of the matter is that the band has been together for quite some time now and that Steve Gibbons and Trevor Burton each have roughly ten years worth of motoring up and down the Ml to their credit; they’ve seen the underside of rock as well as its’ equally slippery top. RATW recently passed a pleasant afternoon with Steve and Trevor, discussing the faces of music that the public usually doesn’t see. Steve smiled wryly when asked if there had been any pressure put on them to get together a debut album quickly, given that Any Road Up’ contains a variety of styles.

‘Initially, we recorded about 16 tracks, and we decided to use 9…a lot of the songs are related to the band’s experiences over the last three years.

The club scene in England is an exacting mistress, holding up for public approval only the groups that prove unfazeable given any set of circumstances, so it wasn’t too surprising that when the Steve Gibbons Band were booked for a tour of the United States supporting either The Who or Peter Frampton, they were less than awed by the challenge.

‘It really depends on the strength of the band and their confidence in what they’re doing…the main factor in coming over well in a big place is the sound, I think , cuz when the band’s good and the material’s good and there’s a good working relationship with the backstage people then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be good. I personally prefer to play smaller places ‘cuz then you’ve got more audience contact, and our songs lend themselves to that sort of hall.’

However, the statement ‘on the road’ whether it applies to a 20,000 hall to a 200 seat club, involved far more organization than one might suppose. Asked about the importance of business in music today, Trevor Burton, the band’s bassist replied quite seriously: ‘…now it’s more necessary than ever. When you get into large-scale production, you’ve just gotta have it there, you’ve got to be aware that it’s there. Everything revolves around money…it costs a hell of a lot of money to put a tour like this ( with The Who) on the road, and the business that goes on behind it is ridiculous. You see five people playing the music, but behind them, the set-up to get them on that stage ,is monstrous.’

But does this mean that the ultimate stage set-up to properly present a rock band today necessitates stripping away the special effects? No way.

‘I think theatrics are important because if you’re on a stage, you’re there to give a show, and you can present a song visually as well as playin’ it; you just try not to overdo it.’

A picture now begins to emerge; Steve Gibbons, boy gunslinger and full-time rock ‘n’ roller has got his band I The Gibbons Gang?), realizes it takes a lot of money to get him in front of people to play, and also realizes that those people deserve a show, not a structured rehearsal. While he tries to balance the money with the media, the third factor enters –music. It’s the foundation; without it- glub!

‘Rock ‘n’ roll is so powerful in its’ simplicity that if you start to stray too far, it loses a lot of its’ substance.’ Walking the line and trying to balance all these features, it’s not difficult to see why many deserving bands never go over the top; the Steve Gibbons Band are one of the lucky ones who got the record company break they needed and then knew how to put themselves before the public.

Steve Gibbons: ‘When the band first came together it was very barren musically; it had reached a peak, then a descent and it was right at rock bottom…we had to start really from

scratch and nurture interest very gradually…the band has evolved through a series of challanges and we’re at a stage of evolvement now where the challange is the bigger places and you slowly learn control…it’s kind of an instinctive thing.’

Watching a band grow is a little like watching a time-lapse film of a flower blooming. The seed is there, the initiative is taken to nurture that seed, and the seed ultimately delivers the fullness of its’ potential. The Steve Gibbons Band is realizing that potential now; each and every member believes in the band and its’ music. That belief is perhaps best summed-up by Trevor Burton in an early morning hours chat following the band’s debut. American gig. When Trevor was introduced as a former member of the Move, at the gig, cheers echoed through the hall and requests for old Move songs came forth. Given the success the Move ultimately attained as Wizzard and The Electric Light Orchestra, I asked Trevor if he ever regretted not sticking with Roy Wood or Jeff Lynne. His answer was both immediate and direct. ‘I couldn’t play the type of music ELO plays. I have to play rock ‘n’ roll.’ And that, ladies and gents, is what the Steve

Gibbons Band is all about.