War zone flavors singer’s new album
IF YOU GO:
Who: Mike Gibbons and Jim Decapua
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Lemon Grove, 122 W. Federal St., Youngstown
Tickets: $3; call
By John Benson
Nothing surprises acoustic rocker Mike Gibbons, who went to high school in Wooster and later lived in Thailand, Egypt and elsewhere.
Despite his global travels, the Bay Area singer-songwriter, who makes his Youngstown debut Tuesday at the Lemon Grove, remembers his time spent in the Buckeye State fondly during his formative years, which included musical inspiration by perhaps the unlikeliest of bands.
“I remember having to watch out for the Amish carts on the road and not be driving too fast,” said Gibbons, calling from just outside of Virginia Beach, Va. “I also remember in 1996 seeing Stone Temple Pilots in Cleveland right after Scott Weiland came out of rehab for the first time. I grew up in a very non-musical family, so for me at that point I was just kind of getting behind the wheel of a career and kind of learning how to sing and listening to people like Weiland, Eddie Vedder and Thom Yorke. I was learning I had a voice.”
That voice for Gibbons first began as a storyteller and eventually grew to include a musical outlet in college, where he started playing guitar and writing songs. Eventually, he landed in San Francisco and pursued a career as a solo artist. He released two studio efforts before returning to Thailand, where he lived as a child from 1986 to 1991, to write a new album.
What he didn’t expect was to get caught up in a political movement in Bangkok that often turned violent. While writing his new material, he said gunshots and grenades could be heard in the distance. Invariably, writing in this urban war zone had a distinct effect on the result: his new CD, “Marigolds: The Bangkok Sessions.”
“I think one of the main themes throughout the album is revolution,” Gibbons said. “Part of it is like moving personally into this phase in my life where I’m finally getting out on the road and sharing my music with people like I never have before, while at the same time having this domestic life where the two don’t correspond.”
Gibbons said over the years his music has drawn plenty of comparisons, which collectively can be heard on “Marigolds: The Bangkok Sessions.”
“The corner singer-songwriter thing I get a lot, like a new Eddie Vedder, Andrew Byrd and a little bit of Americana with Ryan Adams, Copeland,” Gibbons said. “With the production, it’s a lot of like organic cracks and claps. When I was recording, I was really interested in The National and their rhythms.”
And what about Stone Temple Pilots?
“Yeah, vocally, definitely with songs like ‘Big Empty,’” Gibbons said. “I remember learning to sing as I was driving around listening to that song.”
Perhaps the one difference is Weiland would probably have gone to Bangkok for a different reason (wink-wink).
“Yeah, I bet he’s been out there, too,” Gibbons said, laughing. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”