Iowa boy Brandon Gibbs has seen the ebb and flow of the music industry, garnering success while taking the hits. He and twin brother Brent started performing with their parents in a band when they were only 10 years old. As the brothers matured into the teenage years, and wanted to do their own thing, they started The Gibbs Brothers band. They were performing concerts in their hometown, and once they impressed a promoter who showed up to a show, they started receiving calls to open for Peter Frampton, Creedence Clearwater, REO Speedwagon, Poison, The Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, Trapt, George Thorogood, Theory Of A Deadman, Bret Michaels, Kansas, Cinderella, and others. The Gibbs Brothers headlined festivals, clubs and biker rallies. During a ten year span, they released three records, New Breed, Brothers N Arms (produced by Poison’s Rikki Rockett) and Cover Up the Mess. And Brandon thought he would forever continue climbing the ladder of musical success with his twin brother by his side, until one day it all changed.
Gibbs sat down on his hotel room bed in Des Moines, Iowa, after a show with Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham. Gibbs and Brittingham tour together as a duo, performing primarily cover songs at small venues and bars, whenever neither of them are busy with their other bands. Sitting in his hotel room, Gibbs explained how he came to this point in his life, some of the struggles he endured, where he sees himself going now, and how he wants to make a difference in the lives of others.
In 2009, the stress of touring started straining the relationship between Brandon and Brent. While Brandon adored the stage and the music, Brent started getting serious about settling down. On the weekends when they were home Brent was checking in as a reserve police officer, and his heart was drawn towards working a 9-5 and getting married. The discussion of where the band was heading started, as Brandon details, “In 2010 he said he was done, and we went out on stage for the last time on the very first stage we ever opened for Peter Frampton on. We opened for Theory of a Deadman. I was almost in tears. I’m like ‘this is it? This is everything we ever worked for?’”
After the final show the brothers hugged it out, and Brandon wished Brent well, but it wasn’t so easy for Brandon to move forward. “I basically decided I wasn’t going to leave music. I became a singer. In the Gibbs Brothers Band I was a back-up singer and a guitar player. I was actually at a really, really, really low point because The Gibbs Brothers was all we ever did. As kids, packed up, went out with mom and dad. They drove us around and we played these festivals. I never thought it would end. EVER. I was like ‘am I done? Why was I put through all of this for it to stop?’”
Gibbs knew the show must go on, but he wasn’t initially prepared to do it alone. “I tried replacing Brent respectably. I put out a lifeline for drummers. Pick up where he left off. Big steps to fill when it’s an identical twin and they have the history that we did. Brent was a very flamboyant drummer. He was a people person. Epic fail. So I knew I needed to write and record my own thing and get it out there. I hate to say it, but I needed to get away from the fans that knew me as Brandon of The Gibbs Brothers. They weren’t buying the new re-invented Gibbs Brothers.”
So what does a non-vocalist do if he wants to continue performing? “I booked myself as a host in a lounge for a year and a half, just hosting lounge gigs, honing my voice. Now I actually sing a night of music and feel confident about it. Now people are giving me some decent compliments about my voice.” Gibbs skipped the lessons and is all self-taught. “When I was doing these small shows I would pick these really hard songs and I would not change the key to let it fit your normal voice. I would do it exactly how the artist did it. So I was catching myself doing the really high stuff to like the Aaron Lewis from Staind stuff. At times it’d be embarrassing and my voice would not hit the note.”
In mid-2012 Gibbs felt Nashville calling his name. “I finished all my dates I had. I was living at a hotel for awhile. Which really, really, really sucks. But I knew I needed to be in Nashville. I knew I had reached as far as I was going to go in the tri-state area. If you’re into music it’s just the place to be. The level of musicianship is amazing. You can learn down there. Eric [Brittingham] looks out for me kinda like an older brother. It’s influenced me in lots of different ways.”
His most recent success came through the John Force racing team. Ashley Force was creating a promo video for her sister, drag racer Courtney Force, and asked to use Gibbs’ song This Town from his EP Into the Ocean. ESPN caught hold of the song, and struck a deal with Gibbs to use the song on their NHRA shows as well.
So common in the music industry, is one step forward and one step back. The morning of the day of our interview Gibbs received a call shattering the next plans he had to move forward with his career. “We had a plan to tour with a southern rock group created by a friend of ours in Ohio. We put everything on hold. On November 14, we were supposed to launch. Today we got a call. It’s going to be on hold. We don’t know what will happen with that project.”
Gibbs’ resilience and passion keeps him looking forward to other possible opportunities. “I had some plans with Rikki Rocket from Poison. Him and I had talked a lot about doing a side project, where I would be the singer and play guitar, and he would be the drummer. Him and I have some pretty good chemistry. I sang at his wedding. I’d like to see something like that happen. I think that may happen down the line.”
At the end of the day….”This is the beautiful part. At the end of the day I’m still a guitar player and a singer. The show will go on. It doesn’t matter who I’m with. I will play in some capacity. That’s the good part about learning how to sing. I will carry a show if I have to.”
But he sees his real side project, outside of pursuing growing his own band, as helping other people. He tells a story of meeting a guy in Cleveland at a show. “This guy was sitting by himself at sound check. He was obviously a huge Cinderella fan. All day, we went to the hotel, took a nap, I did like P90X, come back and he’s still there. At the end of the night, we’re talking like 1 in the morning, I sat down next to him like ‘what’s your deal?’ and he’s like ‘I’m in a really rough place right now.’ I’m like ‘do you want to talk about it?’ He’s like ‘man I really enjoyed the show. I don’t want to bother you.’”And Brandon told him, “’Yea tell me about it. It’s just me and you.’ It was me and him having a Guinness. He’s like ‘I made a stupid career move. I thought it would be better. And it turned out to be worse. My wife ended up leaving me because of it. Now I’m living in a hotel.’” Gibbs tells him, “Let me tell ya I’ve been there.” Then Gibbs explains, “I do believe in God and a higher power. That’s kinda my real side project. I want to help people step away from the edge because I’ve been there. We drink beer. We have fun. We have filthy mouths. But I do believe I was put in this position in the music business to make a difference other than just music.”
He wants fans and people he’s meeting to know, he’s not going away, no matter how many times he gets knocked down. “This is going to sound cheesy. But I’m born again. I’m back. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not going away. I’m not ever leaving what it is I’m supposed to be doing.”
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I had been a roadie in the tri sate area for years and hearing Gibbs Bros.always playing out somewhere.I finally got to know Brandon a little bit and it didn’t take long for me to feel his passion.This kid is resilient,guess I could say he’s a rock-n-roll bowling pin.With loyal fans and his family there that supports him with total confidence.A pleasure to watch and hear play,and down to earth as an Iowa boy can be.Knock em dead kid.