Devil City Angels
An interview with Singer/Guitarist Brandon Gibbs
by Tina Ayres
Devil City Angels
Brandon Gibbs has been in love with music since an early age. By the age of 8 he had discovered guitar and by 14 he was performing at a national level. From his first band, The Gibbs Brothers Blues Band, to Cheap Thrill Brandon has worked tirelessly to pour his soul into the music he loves so well. Currently he can be found as the frontman for Devil City Angels alongside Rikki Rockett (Poison), Tracii Guns (L.A Guns), and Eric Brittingham (Cinderella).
Maximum Ink: Do you remember what it was like to start singing as a toddler? Was it more fun to have your brother at your side then? What is it like to be a twin?
Brandon Gibbs: Being a twin is such an amazing feeling! My brother and I were obsessed with music at such an early age…It’s all we wanted to do and we did at all together. Another part of being a twin was when we would play together, you could always tell what the other one was thinking. For instance, we could come out of a “mistake” and it would have sounded like we meant to do it. Although we don’t play music together anymore, in general I can usually tell what he is going to do with whatever circumstance we face. Usually it’s all in humor, at 29 we still laugh like we did when we were 10!
MI: Aside from your love of music what were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories from that time?
BG: As a child and even to our early 20’s we had a Grandpa who was active in our lives. We had so much fun with him and spent a lot of time learning from him. My brother and I would pull pranks on him all of the time and he would do the same with us! It was such a fun/funny environment to be around. He also taught us when it was time to be serious and have goals. Most kids on Friday nights were hanging out with their schoolmates which is perfectly normal, my brother and I wanted to see what he was doing first and then go from there!(laughs) I personally spent a ton of time on the golf course with him learning the game. Early into our teens we took a lot of road trips with him and our family because we were starting our career. There are lots of great memories with that man. The names and numbers tattooed on my hands are a memorial to him. I think Brent (my bro) would say the same thing. (smiles)
MI: What was your very first favorite song?
BG: My first song that I fell in love with was The Thrill Is Gone by B.B. King. My parents bought me B.B. King Live At The Ole Miss and I burned that CD into my head! Every time that track came up I always got goose bumps!
MI: How did it feel to be performing at a national level by the age of 14?
BG: Everything was sort of a test…For instance, promoters liked the concept of the Gibbs Brothers, but since we were so young we had to prove to them night after night that we could handle the job!! We gave up sports and other activities and learned how to perform and entertain…When show time came around we did exactly that! There was always a hug and a high five waiting for us as we walked down the ramp. Also how we handled mishaps, wireless units cutting out, amps breaking on stage, snare drums splitting…We had backup plans for these real problems and didn’t panic, they seen that and knew we weren’t as young mentally. After we would do these shows, much like American Idol, we advanced to the next level. Once again a test…“Dear Gibbs Bros, here’s your next assignment, don’t let me down.” (smiles)
MI: You had the chance to open for bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Peter Frampton, Jeff Healey, and Kansas. What does that feel like?
BG: I love these bands! They are timeless bands! Their crowds accepted us and always made us feel welcome. As a guitar player to receive a pat on the back and a great job from Peter Frampton is insane. In fact my Dad kind of had to shake me and say, “Do you realize what just happened!” Working with Jeff Healey blew my mind! Not only did we get to share the stage with him at a festival in Florida. But we were asked to come to an after party (at 17) and play jam with some of the other bands on the bill at a really small smoky bar. When I got done with my 3 song Jeff was standing right next to me and his manager said “Jeff would like to know if he can play your guitar for a few songs!’’ Jeff sat down in the chair and I gave him my guitar and took off the guitar strap and whammy bar for him and he played notes I’ve never heard of before! I’ll never get rid of that strat ever because of the magic of that night! These bands help me find my sound! I love them!
MI: You also got to open for Bret Michaels, Poison, and Cinderella. What did you learn from those experiences?
BG: I think when I first opened up for Poison I was 17 years old. It definitely changed my perspective on how a rock show should sound and look! The energy, the flare, the flames. (smiles) All of it made me want to up my game and change some things. It really made me take what I’ve learned in the blues world and apply that to a rock show. We also established friendships with the guys from Poison. From playing solo shows with Bret Michaels to going back out for a couple shows with Poison over 10 year span…Or to going to Rikki’s wedding and playing some music during his ceremonies, they’ve always been a phone call away with advice as well! Great guys! Glad to know them.
Opening for Cinderella also established some relationships as well! Watching their show being a blues guy at heart was awesome and hit all the right buttons for me! Blues/Rock for me personally how can you go wrong? My last band Cheap Thrill had Jeff and Eric in it as well We toured constantly and made a lot of memories.
MI: Devil City Angels is made up of members of Poison, L.A. Guns, and Cinderella. Did you love those bands as much as I did growing up or have you developed a taste for them more as you went?
BG: I actually was more of a 70’s guy growing up…Hendrix, The Doobie Brothers, Frampton, The Allman Brothers. As I got a little bit older our sound started to morph and we would be paired up with bands from their era, and then my research started! Loved learning about it and working with them. Some great songs came from these bands! Some great shows came from these bands!
MI: What is it like being part of this particular band?
BG: I love being the front man for Devil City Angels! We all appreciate where we came from, but we are loving creating our own new rock songs! At heart we all love Rock & Roll and that’s what is up.
MI: Is there an album in the works?
BG: Yes we started working on one in August and immediately went on tour for a group of 6 weeks. I fly back out next Sunday to finish the first DCA record!
MI: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
BG: George Thorogood –“Here is the formula for success, MAKE IT HAPPEN” In other words, get off your ass, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and go and get your dream.
MI: What advice would you offer others who wish to pursue a career in the music industry?
BG: I’m a firm believer that you can do anything if you put your mind to it… Keep in mind there’s lots to do in the music business. Yes, being on stage seems to be the most popular, but people need wise council, good managers, agents, publicists, tour managers, techs, assistants, lawyers, you name it. Find what comes natural for you and work at it until it’s perfected and it truly excites you to be a part of. Also, the High Road is the best road…Be honest, continue to learn, treat the people who help you with respect and thank them every chance you can get, last but not least…Drugs aren’t cool…We don’t need to lose any more talent to substance abuse. Honestly, just say no (smiles)
MI: Where do you think you would be right now if not for music? Do you think musicians ever stop to think about they’d like to do when they can’t make music any longer or is it something you strive to keep doing until your dying day?
BG: If I wasn’t in the music business right now, I’d probably explore being a chef, I have always enjoyed cooking and grilling. Maybe some sort of social work with troubled kids. I day dream about lots of different things. I always enjoy asking people what they do for a living. It fascinates me! If someone says, construction, I usually have 10 questions for them because it’s not something I’m good at. If someone says auto mechanic I have 10 more questions because I love cars, but I’m not the best at working on them. If they say Law Enforcement, I want to shake their hands and thank them, that’s a job that fascinates me, and I know they don’t always have it good out there. Point being everyone has a talent! They just have to find out what makes them happy.
MI: Do you think the public in general underestimates how much work goes into making the music happen from the roadies on up?
BG: Hmmm, you know I can’t say they underestimate it.They don’t know what they don’t know. For instance when the bus pulls in early in the morning my guitar tech has his hands full with 3 full rigs of years of collecting the “perfect sound.” He’s the first one off and the last one on. Same with our tour manager. There is a business side to the madness of a rock show as well. Aside from that add sound guys, monitor guys, lighting guys, roadies, promoters, meet and greets, sound checks, security etc…All of these people in charge of making ONE night go smoothly so you can have the best experience ever! That’s the goal every night!
MI: Are there any little know things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?
BG: Yep.I truly gave up my passion for playing Chess to learn how to play the guitar. There I said it!
MI: Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being before your time is through?
BG: I’ve always thought it would be cool to make a record with no musical expectations. Don’t call it a rock record, don’t call it a blues record, don’t call it country, don’t call it anything. Maybe I’ll bring in special guests, maybe I’ll riff out for half of the record and then start singing half way through it with helium in my lungs(laughs). Maybe my brother comes in and plays latin percussion. Maybe my daughter Shelby is old enough to sing a verse. Point being, you could do whatever you want. Just like a musical dreamland. It might not sell, but it would be a piece of my imagination cataloged and I could say that I did it.
MI: Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?
BG: It’s a great day to be a Devil City Angel! Stay tuned for updates on our first ever record together! And tune in to ESPN’s Monday Night Football as Devil City is now on the program(smiles).
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