Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m based in Sydney, my lifelong hometown. Sydney has been “up and down” I think over the past decade or so in terms of its music scene. There was a real golden era in the 90s where every pub was full of bands playing and crowds gathering, with some great bands emerging. Things hit a bit of a brick wall a bit after that though, with venues closing and pokies ruling the pubs, but I think there’s been a gradual resurgence, with small bars opening and lots of interesting opportunities to play. “Pre-pandemic” things were building nicely, I felt. Maybe that will continue once things normalise somewhat/somehow, but it’s obviously all up in the air right now.
How did you first start playing music?
My father was a big band leader back in the Big Band era of the mid-20th century. He had my brother and I late in life and so we were brought up by going to gigs around the world when he was playing, with music was always “there” for us. But when my brother and I first started playing, we were heavily into early punk music, the Clash, the Pistols etc, and we started playing in bands in our home area of Bondi as a natural extension of that. The surf movies we loved all had epic soundtracks and we loved playing stuff in that vibe, kind of coastal-guitar-punk, with Midnight Oil thrown into the mix.
What’s been happening recently?
We’ve all been laying pretty low due to COVID so have been taking stock and trying to stay healthy and not drink too much and get ready for the release of the new compilation, which has been in the pipeline for several years.
‘The Songs Of Adam Gibson’ is coming out on 29 May 2020, please tell us about this album and how it came about:
This record is a double vinyl / double CD release that compiles a swathe of stuff I’ve written and played with my three main bands from over the past 20 or so years. It gathers together a “best-of” really and puts ‘em all together on one release, being released by legend Brisbane label Coolin’ By Sound. I’ve been involved with up to 10 different albums over the years with Modern Giant, The Aerial Maps and the Ark-Ark Birds and this release plucks tracks from all of those bands and whacks them together as a cohesive overview. It’s been mooted for bloody ages but has just taken a while to get together, so I’m stoked it’s finally ready to come out.
What or who influences your sound, songwriting/lyrics?
My whole idea is basically “storytelling with music” combined with articulating a sense of particular landscapes, so I am naturally drawn to people who have that storytelling aspect to their music, or are able to create a “landscape” that speaks to a place and space. Midnight Oil were an early key influence, with bands like the Triffids, Not Drowning Waving also being important. Then there’s the punk rock sensibility of The Clash and Joe Strummer, combined with evocative emotional heft of the likes of Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits. The latter being important because I essentially do “spoken word”, similar or at least influenced by a lot of Tom Waits’ stuff.
How do you usually go about writing music?
I create a kind of emotional or psychological landscape of what a song might be about and I work with people such as my brother Simon Gibson or the likes of fellow Aerial Map-pers Alannah Russack, Pete Fenton and Mark Hyland to create the music around that. Over the years I have developed a pretty punk rock way of working, not overthinking anything and just getting it done, and the people I’ve worked with over the years have really responded to that.
What do you have planned for this album?
We plan to tour as The Aerial Maps in general support of this record but god knows when that will be able to happen. In a weird way, the pandemic has allowed us to concentrate on getting the album out and not have to worry too much about the touring aspect just yet, so it’s quite ok really.
What do you like to do away from music?
I’m a journalist and copywriter so I manage to eke out a living by doing that to the best of my energy and ability. Surfing and travel are also central to my life so if I can manage to do a surf trip on a regular basis, things are good.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
A disparate selection really, ranging from Laura Marling’s latest album to things like early Big Audio Dynamite – one of my favourite bands – plus some Americana, things like Sun Kil Moon and Smog. Pretty all over the place but that’s Covid living for ya!
What’s planned for 2020?
Basically to get the album out, survive, surf some good waves, tell stories, be happy if possible.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I am somewhat reclusive right at the moment so I stick fairly close to my home neighbourhood, so pretty much the local RSL is my go-to of choice (when it’s open!) But I do tend to bust out every time I can and travel to favourite spots overseas. My brother now lives in Bali so I have a good place to stay and hang out there – that’s always a great place to escape to overall and also a good place to write songs in general.