Get To Know The Artist: Matt Gibbons

© Julio Bedoya
How would you describe your music for someone who may not have heard you before?  

First, thank you for the opportunity to talk about the music. I would describe it as good rock and roll. It meanders a bit, as rock and roll will do, into blues, country, pop and other genres. And it’s gritty. Real. Meaningful. I’d use those descriptors too. I’d also describe the songs I’ve recorded as great to drive to or cook to! I mean, hell, I called the first record I made, Dance in Your Kitchen. I feel like the kitchen’s the heart of the home. So I put stimulating and soothing strains on that baby, to help with the heart. By the time Gina comes on, track 4, I hope you’ve poured the wine and that you’re twirling someone special around that room.

Do you have a usual songwriting process? If yes, do you mind sharing it? 

Usually something catches me. A phrase or a bit of a melody, sometimes even a title.  And then I have to remember it through my day. That can be tough! I work in doing HVAC during the day! I’ve got to wish to remember the inspiration, and then I spend nights chasing it, trying to fill it out and write it out. Sometimes writing is similar internally to prayer or wishing. I was writing a song the other day called Political C and I remember thinking, this needs a bridge and a chorus, and not knowing where they would come from. So, I went upstairs into a quiet room, sat in front of a notebook, with my Sheraton on my lap, and then I heard it! And then I wrote it down. There really is a Muse, perhaps many, that can whisper to me. Remembering, being quiet, and being open. Those seem to be the key.  

When gigs start up again, where do you want to play first?

Carnegie Hall! I miss playing there especially pointedly because I’ve never done it and I want to! I’d also be off my rocker to play Rockwood Music Hall or the Mercury Lounge in New York. Honestly, I also want to get back to a nursing home I play at. I don’t think any of the residents will ever follow me on Instagram or anything like that, but they sure are great. You Are My Sunshine. It’s amazing how powerful and true that song is when you sing it right to a person and mean it. 

Where has been the best place that you have played and what made this experience so special?

I had this great show in a club called Bar East in the city one New Year’s Eve. What made it great was that about six friends followed me down and across town on the subways to get there. And then I didn’t go on ‘til 1:40 a.m. or something like that, but my friends really stayed up and were vocal when I played. Other people were too. The crowd had thinned out, yet I grabbed everyone who was left in that place. I remember being nervous, and that night was the experience of getting out of my own way and letting energy flow through me. The connection with the whole room was great. I can still remember things people said between songs, the sound of my friends Brenda and Sarah laughing. They were great, and I did great. That was a magical night.

As you are Irish-American, have you played gigs in both Ireland and America? If yes, would you say they are different experiences and how would you say they are different? 

I’ve never had gigs in Ireland. I’m going to have to do something about that. I’m cooking up an album, or an EP maybe, that has an Irish American theme to it. I imagine, however, playing in Ireland wouldn’t be different. If the Muses don’t fail me in America, they won’t fail me in Ireland. You know, in my more shallow places, I actually complain about my identity as Irish-American. In those times it’s easy to believe that I don’t fit in in either society. Yet, how can that be? I literally feel my Irish blood in my love of writing and learning and justice. Monastic Ireland was teeming with centres of those talents and virtues, and they’re still strong in Irish blood.  

Around that time, by the way, Ireland also found a way to relinquish the institution of slavery. Considering this and the challenges still facing America, I’d say it’s quite a fine thing to have Irish blood as an American. I’m not big on hurling or football, you might notice, but the spirit that ran in Irish-American Robert Kennedy’s veins is something in which I can feel a profound pride, and which I can seek to join, for myself, my blood, and for all people everywhere.  

Which song is your favourite to perform and why?

Oh my gosh… Best Girl cause it gets people to dance, or Gina because of the lyrics, and because it’s fun to blow the E harmonica on that one, or Moved in with a Beauty for the lyrics. If you’ve never heard these songs, the whole record is available on Amazon and iTunes. I hope you love them.

Your latest single ‘We Should Be United’ has a strong story behind it, would you mind sharing the story and where you got your inspiration? 

This song comes from the pain of feeling at odds constantly with people who seem to be ‘other’. I say ‘seems’ because being ‘other than’ is an insidious, nearly invisible bamboozlement that people fall under. Black/white, male/female, and, yes, even red/blue (Republican/Democrat)…we are not separate and we don’t have to be at such extreme odds. The truth is, as a people with diversity, we all need and rely upon each other. There have to be enough people of different appearances willing to work with each other, for a common good, or the place turns to hell. The world might be more like heaven, though. In any moment it can be when you and I wake up and are brave enough to play actions motivated by love over fear. It’s damn hard work. But that’s the message with the song.

I wrote that song when I was on break one day. I had a job as a New York City tour guide back then. And that’s one of the beauties of having that job and being in New York. From my point of view, it was imperative to have that attitude. Otherwise, I could neither be there nor do the job right. The essence of the job was this: “Welcome, no matter who you are. I’m going to help you enjoy your holiday, tell you about this place, and do my best to help you laugh and be interested.” I do well when I remember all the lives I touched in that job.  

About six years later, I was sitting with my work buddy, Tony Sugrim, and he was teasing me that I should rap in We Should Be United. Anyway, that’s the way I remember it, but he might not have been teasing. Well, I took the suggestion, and the song ended up even more like the U.S., and the world, really. Diverse and beautiful. You can see me rapping if you want. There’s a 1 min, 50-second ‘radio edit’ video on YouTube that has me in it.

Do you have any plans to release merchandise?  

Yes. Keep an eye on

As both an actor and musician, how would you compare the two industries.  

I don’t know…I see in both industries there’s a need to grab people’s attention, and this need has to be balanced with quality. High quality content requires attention and energy to ingest.  

Who are some of your favourite bands and artists in your local music scene?

I dig a band called 25 Main that plays a local pub. In fact, I used to be able to walk there to see them play. 

Do you have any new releases planned for the near future?  

Yes, I am planning to release and promote The Secret as a single with a video. I’ve got Hari Kapoor from Diamond Photo and Video contracted to direct the video. Hari’s a wild man and a driven artist, so I’m looking forward to having a stunning video for what is a stunning song. Keep posted on this project at Matt Gibbons Music on Facebook.

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