By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor
Interview with Tommy Gibbons
Venue: The Brass Mug in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, 11/7/21
Rock at Night caught up with Phoenix, Arizona’s Tommy Gibbons aka “Super Shredder Tommy” at Tampa’s rock and metal landmark, The Brass Mug on a Sunday night, November 7, 2021. This is his first time on a national tour using his name as the act/title of the band. He is touring with two other bands, Smile Empty Soul and Sunflower Dead for a short Florida run and super excited about touring, playing and sharing music again. He calls his music modern rock with a touch of metal and rap. He is endorsed by several different companies including Bad Boy Guitars. What I found during our talk is his total dedication to his craft. We had a few minutes to chat before his electrifying set for local Tampa fans.
RAN: So tell us a little about this tour and a bit about why you stopped playing music for a while and what got you here to this place?
Tommy Gibbons: “I had a situation that occurred with my former band that I don’t want to get into here. It definitely revealed that there are a lot of less than stellar people in this industry and it was a waste of my time; there was no reason for me to keep doing this stuff…and I have always said that the day I stop stop loving it is the day I am going stop. Fast forward and how I got back into it–got the taste of a normal life and a regular 9 to 5 job, I spent more time with my family which I did appreciate and enjoy…but there was always a little part that was missing. For a long time I tried to fight it, and I did not want to admit that it was music that was missing but now I have fully embraced it. So here I am today on tour with Sunflower Dead and Smile Empty Soul and I never thought, EVER, that this would be a thing.”
RAN: So what is next? Are you writing music and what about touring on your own?
Tommy Gibbons: “I never want to say never. I would rather go with the flow. On writing music? Of course. I am a musician. So only time will tell.”
RAN: So tell us a little bit about your equipment and what you are using.
Tommy Gibbons: “I am endorsed by Bad Boy Guitars, a company out of Houston, Texas. Phenomenal! You will get a chance to see some of the equipment tonight. Beautiful, gorgeous guitars. My newest custom guitar, we named him Gordon-Zilla–two of my favorite things that I like to watch, Gordon Ramsey and Godzilla–green, 7-string, just gorgeous. Love them!”
RAN: Do you find that the equipment makes all the difference?
Tommy Gibbons: “I feel that it is more the player. Whatever rig or guitar you put me on, I am going to sound like me. I feel like equipment is a big part but if you are relying on your equipment, you need to figure something else out. I like nice gear, of course, who doesn’t but it is not the be all to end all for me.”
RAN: Now how did this band form?
Tommy Gibbons: “My manager said, Hey Tommy, you should look into doing a solo thing. At first I said I don’t think anyone is going to give a crap about it, why should I do it? So it was because of the pandemic and believe it or not it really was because of the pandemic, that is where my name really took off. I started dropping singles and they started catching on. One of my songs I will play–“Tonight” charted on Billboard at #23–so then the next thing from my manager is–dude, things are moving up, why don’t we put together a live band and I said absolutely not, that sounds like a headache. He said, you don’t know a group of musicians you can put together, I said, well…maybe. So I put a band together and now I am on tour.”
RAN: So it was something that kind of morphed and it was totally unexpected.
Tommy Gibbons: “There was a part of me that did not even want to do it. To be realistic, I was like, man, is anyone gonna even hear it. Does anyone give a crap about my name? Released some songs and people liked it so here I am!
RAN: So the guys that you work and tour with?
Tommy Gibbons: “The guys on the tour with me now are hired. The last album I did “Caution” I did by myself, wrote it all myself, played it all myself, so these guys are hired, but I feel that we have connections, so eventually I feel that we will move to the next level. They’ll become members, if they choose to. Everyone here has done other things and are experienced musicians.”
RAN: So the formula of putting out music seems to have changed. Singles vs. LPs seems to work right now. What can you say to that?
Tommy Gibbons: “I am one of those guys that believes that you adapt or perish. There are pros and cons to both. I like being able to put individual attention on one song, focus on a single and make it great. I feel like I put more effort into them. There is value to doing a full length especially if you are a touring band; people buy CD’s and I sold out of mine during the first week of this run. So you release singles and work your way to an album.”
RAN: Vinyl is catching on too.
Tommy Gibbons: “I think vinyl is more of a collector’s item. I don’t think people buy those to listen to them much anymore, but you get the artwork, the collector’s item…”
RAN: So how do you balance all of this with your home life and down time?
Tommy Gibbons: “You have to be a special kind of stupid and crazy to wake up one morning and forget a normal life and decide to be a musician. It is not as glamorous as people think it is. I constantly battle and have an inner struggle–I miss my home life but I miss being on that stage. I am known as a guitar player, but I also write songs and sing. I want people to see me as more than that.”
RAN: Are you exploring analog recording which seems to be trending now for some artists?
Tommy Gibbons: “I have and the single I released at the beginning of this year titled “Abandoned” was recorded in analog with a very old school approach. We recorded that in Colorado Springs and Scott Wilson of the band Saving Abel played bass–he did a tremendous job and produced the track with me. It was an incredible experience and we took an old-school approach to it.
So be sure to check out more on Tommy’s socials for news about new music and where he will be heading next. He has a few more nights with this Florida run.
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