In the last few years Mike has recorded and released two solo albums. A Place In Time, first put out in 1997, by Forbidden Records, which received some national distribution. In the year 2000, Mike released More Annoying Songs, an extension of what he did earlier, but with even better production, and more consistent songs, not to mention two true classics, "Dirty Old Bugger," and "Hold On To Your Dream." Following is an interview with Mike Gibbins focusing on the CD's, conducted on June 1, 2001. The phone interview was transcribed, reviewed and edited by Mike Gibbins. Mike also reviewed the song lyrics.
DAN - Let's talk about these CD's you've done, this new one, More Annoying Songs, is there any chance you're going to sell it on Amazon or CD Now or try to broaden its scope for the general public?
MIKE - I don't know, you know me, I'm just a drummer dude, I don't go into the business, you know what I mean?
DAN - I think the CD is very strong and that would be just another avenue for people to get into it, or get more sold.
MIKE - Well, I need a manager (laughs). You know what I'm saying?
DAN - I know what you're saying.
MIKE - I mean, I can't do it all. I mean, I'm just stretching my limits on my little brain and just doin' the frickin' what I'm doing.
DAN - How's the new studio set-up coming along?
MIKE - The actual room, the double garage, is looking good. I'm getting air conditioning this week
DAN - I've read that you want to remix A Place In Time. Is that true?
MIKE - Yeah. Well, some of it anyway. I mean, what happened with A Place In Time was, I mixed the original to DAT tape, but I didn't master it, and I wasn't there when they mastered it, and what the guy did was put the DAT on Tascam reel-to-reel and back onto a computer and they mellowed it out. I gave the guy free rein to put echo here and there. I was drinking heavily in those days and I didn't take control (laughs). I was having problems 'cause I'm new at this and the equipment I had was just this one ADAT. I did it all on one ADAT 8-track, but at least I got a handle on it.
DAN - Yeah, the new album, More Annoying Songs, did you do it on two linked ADAT's?
MIKE - No. One ADAT.
DAN - Really?
MIKE - I did it on the old bouncy-bouncy basis. You know I'd love to have 16 tracks. Now, I've got to wait a little while.
DAN - Yeah, well you did a good job with the drums, considering those issues. Are some of the drums on the first album programmed?
MIKE - No. Nothing was programmed.
DAN - Really? That's all live playing?
MIKE - I actually used some keyboard drums and played the keyboard, like a real drum, but nothing was sequenced and nothing was quantized, so, in effect, some of those drums are out of time, because it is more real that way. I couldn't get a drum sound. That's why I used it. I could not get a good drum sound. I didn't have enough compression. I didn't have enough equipment. Originally, Dan, they were going to be demos, so I could shop them around, and then I thought, fuck this, I ain't gonna do that.
DAN - Well, on the new CD the drum sounds are generally improved.
MIKE - Well, trial-and-error.
DAN - Yeah, some drums sound real fat and good, a few tracks.
MIKE - Well, that's three microphones, a bass drum, and two overheads. I didn't even close mic the snare.
DAN - Yeah, you've got an ear for what you want. They've got a good feel, the new record, most of it really jumps out at you.
MIKE - If you notice, there's one track with keyboard drums, that's "Hold On To Your Dream." But, you notice, you can't even tell, because it doesn't do nothing. There's one drum fill in there which is a real drum. I disguised the drum. It's tough doing it the way I'm doing it because I'm used to playing with a band, you know, without the click track. Like Badfinger never ever used a click track. It was always like a feel and I'm missing that in the music. You can't get that on your own, you know what I'm saying? When the studios done, about a year from now, I'll be able to play live with Rick.
DAN - Yeah, and it would be great if you got Ron Griffiths down for a couple of weeks.
MIKE - Then we'd get a groove going, yeah.
DAN - Ron's still playing some pub gigs, so his chops are there.
MIKE - Oh, yeah. His chops are probably better than mine right now.
DAN - Let's talk about some of the songs going through the albums, the first one on the first CD, "Sue Me," it's like a real fast-paced tune. This guy, Rick Warsing, just in general, his guitar work is very intricate and well-worked out.
MIKE - Yeah, I wrote that on a Casio keyboard, by the way, and he just copied the keyboard notes.
DAN - Yeah, he's sort of mimicking your playing.
MIKE - Yeah, he brought them out, but the solo he did was impeccable. It sounds like The Ventures or something.
DAN - Yeah, he's amazing because of all the different styles he masters. He can play the tasteful pop-styled fills, he can do anything.
MIKE - Yeah, Rick's a kind of half-Indian, so he's out there. But he's impeccable.
DAN - So, when you're working with him on a song, do you generally give him something to listen to at home?
MIKE - Oh, yeah. I give him a tape with keyboards and vocal, a rough vocal maybe, and sometimes with drums already on it. But, you know, it was a trial-and-error with me and Rick. Right now, we got it down. I just make him a tape, with a master vocal without the guitars or anything and just keep it.
DAN - And when he comes back in, and you're actually recording, you say he's pretty easy to work with? He's fast?
MIKE - Oh yeah, I've got an idea what I want, and usually, what I like, he'd come up with something better.
DAN - Really?
MIKE - I mean, he did some blazing, I mean blazing guitar on some of them tracks and we rubbed it all because it was too much. We said. 'You know it doesn't need to be sounding like Eric Clapton.' It was too much. We don't need to be speed-freaking it. We just need to play parts.
DAN - Absolutely, sometimes the layering of his little parts, the subtleties, if you're really listening, nice touches.
MIKE - I still listen to it and I find shit that I've missed.
DAN - Yeah, exactly, your CD has a lot of depth, especially the new one and people are constantly commenting the CD grows on them alot. It's a lot to take in because there are a divergent amount of styles.
MIKE - Well, you see, I was a little bit of punk-attitude about this one. I put the longest track in front, just to say "fuck-em", you know (laughs), if they can get through the first track, they can enjoy the album. If they can't get through that first track, well, "to hell with 'em." I'm not doing the business where you put the two-minute thing on the front, like the old days where the put the single on the first side, first track, to hook 'em in. So they reel in the punters. So I did it the honest way around. If they get past that first nine minutes, they're going to have a good time.
DAN - I agree. I think if people really are interested in your music they're gong to listen enough to get past that, if that track is bothering them. Speaking of that first track "Wired"...
MIKE - That one grows on you, too.
DAN - Yeah, because it's got literally like twelve different sections of music. A track like that, how did that evolve?
MIKE - In fact, Dan, that's half the length because Ron Griffiths sang the other half, which I will probably end up putting on the next CD. It's on the same theme of the guitar riff on the lyric "It's moving on the wind." Well, that's the theme back in the other song called "Said The Clown."
DAN - I see
MIKE - And Ron Griffiths is singing it, but I didn't use it, because it would have been too long. It was like 18 minutes long.
DAN - When you wrote it, you laid down an 18 minute basic track?
MIKE - Yeah, well, you have to with the drums, the way I do it. I did the keyboard track and then the drums, and gave it to Rick and he said, "What the hell is this? This is a bit out there, man." I said, "Well, just trust me, you know." It does get out there a bit and I pointed him in the right direction and then he came through. He's so flexible.
DAN - The kind of inspiration of that music, you know, they call it 'progressive' , inspired by a very late 60's, early 70's scene, was that a style that you really enjoyed at the time?
MIKE - To me, that was something that goes all the way from a Beatles, Badfinger thing, to the Mahavishnu Orchestra kind of thing, and back to Paul McCartney. It's a bit schizoid, but I like that. It's an anti-cocaine song, by the way.
DAN - Let's talk about "Bad Boy Blues" from the first CD and "Two And Two" from the new one. What inspires you to write these straightforward blues-based rockers?
MIKE - To me, that's a Welsh thing. In Wales, we've got the best shuffle drummer in the world, which his Terry Williams of the Man band, Rockpile, and Dire Straits. That's the Swansea groove, that shuffle.
DAN - So when you go back to Swansea, are these the kind of tunes you might jam on a lot in the pubs?
MIKE - Oh yeah. That kind of thing, the old shuffle, the 60's, early-60's stuff.
DAN - So you get a kick out of writing your own versions of those old songs?
MIKE - Yeah, those are fun tunes for me.
DAN - Again, Rick Warsing seems to sink right in, playing acoustic slide, electric slide, really fitting into the style well.
MIKE - Yeah, Rick actually hates playing the blues (laughs)
DAN - Really?
MIKE - Yeah, to him, the old blues thing is kind of boring. But from a drummer point-of-view, it's nice to play.
DAN - Did Rick, by chance, have much familiarity with Badfinger?
MIKE - Not really. Rick's a Beatles freak. That's where he gets his good parts from. He listened closely to The Beatles. He listens closely to their guitar parts, the way they put the thing together. Because that was a craft. He's very crafty.
DAN - Now, I'm sure once he started working with you he went back and listened to some old Badfinger? Did he comment on Pete Ham?
MIKE - Oh yeah, he did actually. He thought the guy was amazing. And for his age? Pete did all that fantastic stuff and he was in his early twenties. Pete did Bangla Desh when he was twenty-four. Six years younger than my son, Owen. When you look back at it, the guy was a genius, you don't realize it until you lose it, man.
DAN - Speaking of Pete, briefly, do you remember him speaking of other guitarists he admired.
MIKE - Well, he liked the slow, bendy, BB King stuff. He didn't like the trilly stuff. He liked slow-bending notes. Pete was a jazz-blues guy.
DAN - So he was inspired by the old-timers?
MIKE - Yeah. He liked the old guys. He wasn't impressed by the modern players.
DAN - Did you guys go to see other bands in London?
MIKE - Yeah. We used to see Cream. Ron was really into Jack Bruce and I liked Ginger Baker. We used to cover their stuff.
DAN - Hearing the Iveys live, it's like you were the ultimate cover band.
MIKE - We might have been.
DAN - Obviously, that helped evolve the song writing, the fact you entertained many styles of music.
MIKE - Yeah, it's funny the style we ended up writing, it wasn't copying The Beatles, it was the way we were.
DAN - And, of course, there was starting to become a "Badfinger" sound and style with Wish You Were Here, a distinctive "Badfinger" developing.
MIKE - We didn't get the chance to become ourselves, 'cause that's where the career ended. It's sad, but true. You can imagine the shit we would have done. It would have been nice.
DAN - The song "Picture Of You," from the first CD, has a very nice melodic intro. You put a lot of passion into singing it.
MIKE - That's a song about my son, Owen. I wrote it when he was about ten years old, when I left home for the United States. He makes fun if it when I tell him that.
DAN - It seems to be written on keyboards.
MIKE - Actually, it was written originally on acoustic guitar. I might do another version of that with just acoustic guitar and vocals, 'cause it sounded a little bit pretentious.
DAN - That's interesting, because you'd think it was written on the keyboard. Was it conscious, is there any particular reason more of your songs are keyboard-based?
MIKE - Yeah, because I'm not a guitar player. I cannot play. I can get through a number like I couldn't perform as a guitar player, but on keyboards, at least they're in tune, see what I'm saying? At least the keyboard's in concert pitch and I can get a better handle on it. I'm writing mostly on keyboards.
DAN - So, a lot of these are written on keyboards, like "Rockin' The Boat"?
MIKE - That was done on guitar. Sometimes I write them on guitar, and then put them on tape with a keyboard. You know, I'm thinking, what the hell, I've already got a guitar player. But I'm still practicing the guitar, so maybe one day I'll end up recording it.
DAN - Yeah, you've gotten pretty accomplished on the keyboards. You have some real intricate melodic playing going on in there.
MIKE - Well, I'm not that good. But "Dirty Old Bugger" is a nice tune. It's not easy to play because it's weird.
DAN - Yes. I'd say that was a big standout. Now, the break in that song, where it goes into this big guitar instrumental, which sounds like 70's era Yes or Kayak...
MIKE - Rick thought that was crazy.
DAN - The amazing thing is his guitar work. It's like "Wow!"
MIKE - Well, I did some bizarre drums right there and I was watching his face thinking, 'he's gonna freak out now' (laughs), and guess what, he had no complaints. He just did it and he did it perfect. That's how good he is.
DAN - He is really good. To do that, and be able to switch over to the melodic thing, is not easy.
MIKE - Oh yeah, Rick can do anything. If he can hear it, he can play it.
DAN - You're fortunate. If you didn't have a strong guitarist, it would show on the songs.
MIKE - I know. The demos, with drums and my own keyboard bass and vocals, they sound nice, they sound like "Come And Get It" - fat, deep, and simple. But when you bring in another musician, you get nice colors.
DAN - It makes an album, the new CD sounds like an album, not demos. Most of it sounds like a full-fledged album project.
MIKE - Well, thank you. It's amazing what you can do with eight tracks.
DAN - I had figured you tied two ADATS together and were recording on 16 tracks.
MIKE - No. My achilles heel is the microphones, 'cause I haven't any great microphones. I've got average microphones. I've got no condenser mic which gives you the breathy sound.
DAN - Yeah, I can hear that the recording quality of the lead vocal is not up to the higher-end standard.
MIKE - Well, those cost more than the friggin' ADAT machine. I just gave all my potential studio money to the lawyers for that case in England. I'm a little bit peeved about that right now.
DAN - Was, "Sue Me" about that situation as it was developing at the time?
MIKE - Yeah. I thought, 'What the fuck for?" Why are you suing me?" I didn't do nothing.
DAN - Well, it was the action taken by the accountant in England, when they decided to draw from Joey's Apple royalties before consulting with anybody, that started the chain of events.
MIKE - I'm very pissed off. Why not pick up the phone? Joey delved into this, probably thinking it wasn't going to cost him that much money. Now, everybody lost big money. If I go and sue the accountant, I'm gonna lose more than I get back. So we all eat shit and die. I just wish Joey had picked up the phone, you know what I'm saying?
DAN - At this point, do you trust anyone?
MIKE - No. I don't trust anyone. I'm happy selling a few hundred CD's versus the pressure of any lawsuits.
DAN - Talk about "Time In."
MIKE - That's just a love song, really.
DAN - It has a nice bridge, and some intricate arranging of the backing vocals. Do you enjoy coming up with little things like that??
MIKE - I love Abbey Road, I love Sgt. Pepper. I thought the middle of that was reminiscent, especially with the harp. It was Beatle-ly.
DAN - I can tell you really worked on that section. The keyboard run, harmonica, little vocals.
MIKE - That was fun. I loved that song.
DAN - I did, too.
MIKE - That's one of my favorite songs of mine.
DAN - I think it really grows on people.
MIKE - I'm gonna remix that one, definitely.
DAN - "Overdue"? That one was wild.
MIKE - Well, that sounds like King Crimson, which is one of my favorite bands. They opened up for Badfinger in the early days. But, yeah, that song's been around forever. It's one of them I never really finished. I finally put it down on tape. And Rick just kind of smoked it.
DAN - Layaway?
MIKE - You know what that's about.
DAN - Well, there are inferences you can tie to Pete.
MIKE - Yeah, well, that's all about a pile of shit that was in my head for a long time. I don't really like the production. I don't like the way I did it.
DAN - Now, you'd tried it once before on that Florida compilation.
MIKE - I still don't like the way I did it. But, you never know, it might come out again in a different version. It's one of them things that won't go away. I'm trying to put that behind me. If I'm short of songs, someday. Maybe I'll re-hash it.
DAN - Now, the first version you did, did you record that at your place?
MIKE - Well, that was on my brand new equipment. I was just messing around and my buddy, Alan, whose a nice guy, but not a professional musician, a great harp player and bass player, and all that, but not really a guitar player. I said, "Let's do this" and he had a go, but he's not as good as Rick.
DAN - You had another track called "Dream Harder"
MIKE - Yeah, I'm working on that right now, actually. I've already done a keyboard track for that.
DAN - It's a good track. It almost sounds like the kind of rock'n'roll things Joey and Tommy did a lot, post-Pete.
MIKE - Right. Well, Rick's gonna be working with me on that. We might pump that one up a little bit.
DAN - That's good, to hear you may recover that one. Talk about "Please Please".
MIKE - That's a throwaway, 3 minute thing, which is kind of neat actually. It's kind of easy-going. It's like a cover tune. It's very poppy and easy to do. It was the least progressive on the whole deal.
DAN - By the way, does Rick have any particular tune he really likes of yours?
MIKE - He likes "Please Please" actually
DAN - So he likes the melodic...
MIKE - Yeah, well, he's a Beatles freak.
DAN - "A Place In Time" seems to be about friendship. Anything about those lyrics?
MIKE - Refresh me. I can't remember the words.
DAN - Let's see, "cuts like a knife and it chills me to the bone, when I think of all the people I've known in my life who've jumped into the fire, each a victim of desire."
MIKE - Well, you know what that's about, don't you?
DAN - Do you say "I said we could not get much higher."?
MIKE - That's about dying in rock'n'roll.
DAN - And you say, "We had a good thing going, but no way of knowing old Nick was around."
MIKE - Well, that's about the devil, or those dark influences. Old Nick is the devil.
DAN - So how did this song come about?
MIKE - Well, that's one of those things like King Crimson. In fact, those things go back to when I was working with Martin Ace and those guys. That's how old they are. The CD, A Place In Time, is my head full of crap, you know, I had to sort out the bits. That's why this new album is more cohesive, 'cause I wrote everything in one year.
DAN - What about "Day After Night"?
MIKE - That's just a love song. I was trying to write a song that everybody could relate to. I tried to do a Pete Ham song, in the Hey Jude type vein, but with a voice like mine, you'd be hard-pressed.
DAN - Now, "Warcloud" is an instrumental of "Sue Me". What made you put that on?
MIKE - 'Cause I loved the changes in that. It's a little bit of fusion, call if "con-fusion" (laughs) When we did the live gig with Ron Griffiths, Paul Chapman, we opened with that, and we did a bit of both, elongated it, and it sounded very heavy.
DAN - That sounds like a good idea, to open with that, to get momentum going. Did you tape the gig?
MIKE - Yeah, I've got a videotape of it. It's not a professional quality thing, but it gives the general idea. We didn't have a sound check, but it sounded okay. It sounded great onstage. Ron was fabulous.
DAN - Tell me about "Egg". That has a nice intro.
MIKE - Well, you've already sussed that out. That's a rewrite from the sessions I did in 1972, when I left the band.
DAN - Have you thought about tacking some of those 1972 sessions onto a CD release? Does that idea work for you?
MIKE - The actual multi-track masters are in a landfill somewhere. All I've got are two-track rough mixdowns.
DAN - They're not that bad of mixes. They're representative enough.
MIKE - Well, Apple didn't like it. It was not what they expected (laughs)
DAN - Well, they're really wasn't an outlet for those when you went back to Badfinger.
MIKE - That was sort of a self-indulgent trip, but we did get "Cowboy" out of those. That's the one the other members of Badfinger liked.
DAN - But those 1972 tracks, they might help a CD sell down-the-line, as fans liked unreleased tracks.
MIKE - Yeah. And I might get sued by Apple (laughs)
DAN - I don't see that.
MIKE - No. Apple has been wonderful to us. They're not Warner Brothers.
DAN - Yeah. Warner Brothers has been tough at times.
MIKE - Apple did nothing but good for us. I wouldn't change anything. Just by being around there made me aware. The best memories are Apple, especially The Iveys days.
DAN - Talk about "Time Will Tell Us"
MIKE - Well, that's obviously a dig at "Joey Molland's Badfinger".
DAN - Okay, but you have Ron singing the words.
MIKE - I actually had finished it. It was ready to go. And then Ron came over and I had a brainstorm "Wait a minute. It would be great for Ron to sing this." 'You rolled me over for a piece of my pie. I hear you swallow anyway.'
DAN - That's pretty intense, being that Ron is a rather low-key, humble guy.
MIKE - Yeah, he would never write those lyrics, but I would. As I found out, nice guys finish last.
DAN - You shouldn't give in to that idea.
MIKE - Joey knows what I'm like. He probably had a chuckle.
DAN - Maybe so, if he even heard it. I guess his reaction would depend on his mood, as you have said, he's a classic Gemini.
MIKE - That's why I can't work with him. He's unpredictable. He shoots you curveballs.
DAN - Tommy was certainly like that.
MIKE - Yeah, they were both somewhat the same like that.
DAN - That must have been a lot to deal with, for you and Pete.
MIKE - To get through one day with them, without someone getting pissed off, was a chore. But we had fun, don't get me wrong. The majority of Badfinger was fun. The bad times weren't all bad. There's been a lot of aggro gone down over the years over "what could have been," "what might've been," or "that guy fucked up," or "if it weren't for that bitch." There was all that, but you can't bring it back. It's on record. It all happened.
DAN - It's a shame the core band didn't last longer.
MIKE - Well, six albums in five years. We toured six months out of the year.
DAN - I know there were good times. In the book, I mentioned the fun times and put in a number of humorous anecdotes.
MIKE - I'm sorry, but I haven't read the book. I look at the pictures and flip through it.
DAN - Well, I do have some funny anecdotes in there. I did try to balance that part, but also, let's face it, two guys dying by suicide, an author covering Badfinger should attempt to illustrate the circumstances which may have led to this. That's one of the major issues most readers of a Badfinger biography would expect to read about.
MIKE - See, what it really is, Dan, I have to watch my brain, because it gets too depressing. I don't think of them as dying. I think of them as killing themselves. That's different.
DAN - Of course. It would be much more intense for you to read the book and relive a lot of this.
MIKE - Yeah. If they'd been run over by a truck, or killed in an airplane crash, that would be tragedy to me. Suicide is stupidity. You should have titled it "The Stupid Story Of Badfinger".
DAN - Originally, my title was 'Wrapped Up In A Rock'n'Roll Contract: The Story Of Badfinger". I didn't want a sensationalistic title, but my European book distributor editor said I had to call it "Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger," in order for them to market it, and the editor wrote that slightly tabloid-ish blurb on the back cover, which he insisted on.
MIKE - Well, people love tragedies.
DAN - I had thought "Wrapped up In a Rock'n'Roll Contract" was something that didn't overplay the suicides. I wanted to portray the fact everyone in the band suffered, but dealt with the circumstances in different ways. I actually think the book would have sold the same with my original title.
MIKE - Tommy was the poet, wasn't he. He was a true poet.
DAN - Any songs you have inspired by Tommy.
MIKE - No. Not really. I loved Tommy to death. We shared a lot together. He was the Keith Moon of our band. But I watched him go down the tubes. From 1982 there was no stopping it. Certain people have certain make-up.
DAN - Yeah, a part of me thinks Tommy, the way he lived, you could almost see it coming, but of course, you have Pete, who died first, and no one would have said he was pre-ordained, based on his character.
MIKE - When I got the news about Pete I was in total denial. I figured he was murdered. I thought he was taken out for money. I won't mention any frickin' names, but that was my first thought. But you can say, 'Well, the guy's in denial. He just doesn't want to face what's happening." It was the last thing I would have expected from Pete. Tommy , I knew he was suicidal. He threatened it many times. I was like "fuck off. Don't be an asshole, Tommy. You saw the pain Pete left behind. You want to do the same shit?" And he did it.
DAN - Talk about our song "Chains"
MIKE - That was one of those songs I lost the master three times, when the ADAT tape kind of broke. We had to start again. And we almost finished it off, and the machine ate the tape again. The third time we got lucky. So that was a bit of nightmare to finish.
DAN - Well, Rick did a nice job again, with the guitar licks.
MIKE - Oh, yeah.
DAN - Again, it's a melodic thing.
MIKE - Well, the lyrics changed. That's more like an old song. I liked it because I went for that "Time In" thing, that Beatles feel to it.
DAN - It's Lennonesque.
MIKE - It's one that wouldn't go away. I've tried to dump it more than once. But that's one of my favorite production.
DAN - As far as songwriting, do you work only when inspired, or do you push yourself to write songs?
MIKE - I force myself to write lyrics. When you write it down on paper it loses it's meaning. It's only good when it's in your head (laughs) and when I put it down on paper it looked stupid. Sometimes I tweak 'em up and delete. But Tommy used to write cryptically, it'd have triple meanings and all that bullshit. And I did a little bit of that where you can take it one way or another way. If you're doing a sad song, some people might be happy, not wanting to be sad, but you want them to relate to it, so you kind of twist your lyrics around, so they could be for any type of mood. There's a little bit of craftiness involved in writing. God knows how Elton John does it with Bernie Taupin.
DAN - Do you come up with chords and melodies first, or do they come to you simultaneously?
MIKE - No. I have a tune in my head.
DAN - So, a certain amount of words may be in your head with the tune?
MIKE - But you've got to pick them out of the sky almost. A good analogy is what Michaelangelo did. Not that I'm as good as him. When they would tell him, 'That's a great fuckin' statue you made' he'd say, 'It was already there. I just chipped away the stone and exposed it.' You know what I'm saying? And that's how songwriting is. You just gotta go and look for it. And if you chip too much off, you ruin it.
DAN - Do you try not to labor too much on songs?
MIKE - Some songs are not worth laboring on, but sometimes you get a feeling that just won't go away. It keeps haunting you. I wake up in the morning, singing the fuckin' thing in my head, trying to fix it.
DAN - Do you pop ideas onto a cassette recorder next to your bed?
MIKE - No. I'm not that good. If it doesn't stay in my head, I let it go. I used to do that, but then you'd be working on something that is alien. If it stays there, it's meant to stay there. It's like it's in the rock, you know, it's in the marble. And if it's not there, you can chip away forever, and it's not going to be there. I'm getting cryptic on you.
DAN - I understand what you're saying. Now, "Dirty Old Bugger", those words...
MIKE - Oh, that was just a fun thing. That was me being Jack The Ripper.
DAN - I see.
MIKE - I did a bit of a cockney accent, so that when you listen to that, you can see some of the London fog, the rain, the top hats, the carriages...
DAN - It does remind me a bit of Jethro Tull.
MIKE - It's a little bit bizarre, isn't it?
DAN - Yeah.
MIKE - But you know, that's going away from the serious shit.
DAN - It's funny, the first instinct of an American might be ' "Dirty Old Bugger," wait a minute, what's this title, these words, over such a melody?', but the more you hear it, it works with the music, the story. There's depth to it, you're drawn in to listen and listen, and then you comprehend it.
MIKE - Well, that's a tune written on piano that came out of fresh air. Like I've been saying, it was already there. It was fun to do. I think I did the whole thing in one day.
DAN - It takes awhile before you get into that first guitar break. You kind of tease and tease and then 'boom!' Was that a pennywhistle halfway through?
MIKE - No. that was a kazoo. (laughs)
DAN - It's great. It sort of takes off again.
MIKE - Rick said, "You can't do a flash guitar there. Fuck that, I'll just do the whistle." I said, "Knock yourself out." We laughed and said 'That's good enough." We had fun making it.
DAN - That drum solo at the end, you're just going and going. It's like you're having a good time.
MIKE - Yeah. There was no pressure there. See what comes out on tape.
DAN - "Oxydynamo"? I'd read that came by accident.
MIKE - Yeah, I was getting a bass sound for Rick, 'cause I put it direct through the board, and I was tweaking the EQ's and stuff and I told him to play anything, so he did that, "bump boom-bowwwn bump" sound, a really slow blues, and then I started getting some wacky sounds on it, out there, and said, "Just keep playing that" and he played it for about nine minutes and I recorded it without him even knowing it. So he went home later and I wrote a song around it. Rick wrote that backing track. Things like that happen. I like that.
DAN - It must feel great doing your own thing. If you had a producer, he would have probably knocked that away.
MIKE - Oh yeah, it would have been on the floor.
DAN - Tell me about "Love Song"
MIKE - That was... this is a true story. I was in the doghouse with my wife. I'd been out and about drinking and being a total asshole. I wrote that to get out of the doghouse, 'cause women love that kind of thing, and it worked (laughs). I know a bunch of girls who heard that and they love that song, because it's romantic, because it's about a guy in pain, and they love to see a guy in pain (laughs)
DAN - It's great that you can feel confident to expose yourself to your wife that way.
MIKE - Well, my wife loves Aerosmith, Live, and Tool. She's not really a "Badfinger" fan. You know what I'm saying?
DAN - What has she meant to you in terms of support for you to continue to do music.
MIKE - Well, she says, "Be proud of what you've done" and stuff like that. She's just a good person.
DAN - And she does things to help you with the business?
MIKE - Well, she runs Exile Music. She does the computer. She does the phone. She does the mailing. All I do is write music.
DAN - And your son, Owen, helps a little here and there?
MIKE - Well, Owen's living in Wales right now. He's coming back in about eight weeks. He's done my web page. He's the web master.
DAN - I think it's really good that you've put some memories on your website. I know how hard it is to accomplish publishing a book.
MIKE - If I do a book, it'll be a comedy book. It'll be nothing to do with the money and the business. It'll be the confessions of a rock'n'roll drummer.
DAN - What did you think of Deke Leonard's (of the Man band) book?
MIKE - Oh, beautiful, wonderful. I know the people involved. It's even funnier to me.
DAN - He's a very witty guy. Is he still playing?
MIKE - Yeah. Man is still playing. They play in Germany, Europe.
DAN - Do they use Terry Williams on drums?
MIKE - No. I talked to him about two days ago. He's running a blues club in Swansea. He's a good friend of mine. We keep in touch.
DAN - The song "Hold On To Your Dream" I rate that really highly. Were you happy with that?
MIKE - Yeah, well that songs goes out to all the blondes... It's just a love song. That's all that is, really.
DAN - When you throw in a line like "day after day", is that in tribute to Pete?
MIKE - Oh, yeah. Oh, definitely. I've done that in a few songs.
DAN - That song, if you had a publisher pushing it, I think is very coverable.
MIKE - Yeah, I'd like somebody to cover my shit, man.
DAN - Yeah, but you need someone to push it.
MIKE - I was thinking Bonnie Tyler for that one.
DAN - Oh, she'd be great for that.
MIKE - I've got a couple of songs I think she'd be really good for.
DAN - Do you have any contact with her?
M- Yeah, if I wanted to. I could call Terry Williams in Swansea and reach her.
DAN - Absolutely. You should go for it.
MIKE - In fact, recently, at a money-raising gig for one of the Man band's wives who was sick, she actually went up and did "It's A Heartache" with the original band, except for me. Taff William's (guitarist) was at my house recently, and he said he was writing songs for her, and I was thinking, "Oh."
DAN - Did you play him some of your stuff?
MIKE - Yeah, I gave him a CD. He's a great musician. He happens to be Eric Clapton's favorite guitar player.
DAN - It's too bad you didn't have the studio set-up at the time, you could've maybe jammed or maybe laid something down.
MIKE - I don't rule that out that he might be over here to play later. I'd love to get some Welsh people over here, you know.
DAN - I know that's great when you get a set-up that anytime a friend visits you, you can go in and play.
MIKE - I know. I can keep my drums set-up all the time now, whereas in my other house, when I did A Place In Time, that room was just a drum room and I couldn't fit anybody else in there. So if I had to play piano I'd have to break down the drums, but now I can keep set-up the piano, drums, everything, unless, of course, my sons, who are playing now, all of them are playing. I've got a twelve-year old, he's playing sax, and my other one, is fourteen, he's playing bass. I'm jamming with my kids all the time.
DAN - So you've got a full-on Gibbins rock'n'roll band once Owen comes over.
MIKE - Right. (laughs)
DAN - Discuss "Dream On." I can hear some comparisons to Wish You Were Here, the way the tempo flows into the medley's second song.
MIKE - There's a little Wish You Were Here where the solo comes in and all that and it becomes "Fall To Pieces." I did that intentionally because that's the way I would've done it. That's the way we would have done it. Like I said, I'm pretty hard-pressed with the production because I've got shit for gear. But I'm trying to capture that feel. It worked to an extent.
DAN - "Dream On" starts out with a mesmerizing riff.
MIKE - To me, "Dream On" is my idea of what Walls And Bridges is like, which his my favorite Lennon album. Like that song "#9 Dream," what a beautiful song. I love that tune.
DAN - Do you pay any attention to what George and Paul have been putting out?
MIKE - Not really. When I'm around the house I like listening to the Beatles outtakes. "Strawberry Fields," like eight takes, that kind of thing. That's about it. I like to play the very early Beatles, "Please Please Me." You know, "I Want to Hold Your Hand", that's my favorite Beatles right there. Remember, I was in school then. I've got memories of being fourteen and we were jamming to that stuff. Those are my favorite Beatles memories, other than meeting them, of course. But when you're a kid. I think it goes much deeper.
DAN - Did you get the All Things Must Pass reissue?
MIKE - No, I didn't.
DAN - But you probably have the earlier CD?
MIKE - Yes.
DAN - When you listen, can you hear yourself on it?
MIKE - No. But it doesn't matter. Just being there, like that Peter Sellers movie. It doesn't matter what you did, even if you sat in the audience. What's good is what Pete did (probably referring to Bangla Desh). It shows you what respect George had for his abilities.
DAN - Did George use him a lot on sessions?
MIKE - Yes. All the time.
DAN - Pete wasn't exactly the type to brag about doing that, was he?
M- Right. George actually kind of idolized Pete. And I remember McCartney once said, "Boy, the guy can really play, can't he!"
DAN - Yeah, it seems Paul was pretty impressed with Pete.
MIKE - Oh, he was very impressed with Pete. When Pete would take a solo, he would raise his eyebrows.
DAN - And George obviously thought he was good.
MIKE - Well, he was at least as good as George, probably better.
DAN - Yeah, in hindsight, people are truly seeing how good Pete was.
MIKE - He was very, very humble and they liked that about him, too. You know Pete used to kind of lay back onstage. Joey would go upfront and Pete would go back. He was like Bill Wyman of the Stones onstage.
DAN - Now, doing your own CD's, what does it mean to have total control?
MIKE - It means I haven't got to worry about nothing except selling them. My idea is to just put them out, get them out there, and if people like them, they like them. If they don't, they don't. At least I find out. With Forbidden, I got national distribution, and made $500. I'm in it for the music, but I really do need the money.
DAN - You have your rights back from Forbidden now, right?
MIKE - Yeah. I've got the copyright to them all. I'm 52 years old and I got kids going into the music business. I'm worried about them, you know, but they've got a yardstick to go by.
DAN - Do they show much curiosity about your past?
MIKE - Well, they watched Behind The Music and didn't say much. I don't say to them, "Half my band killed themselves and we got ripped off." I don't say that to them.
DAN - Okay, Mike. Thanks for the interview.
MIKE - Alright, Dan. Talk to you soon.
See Mike Gibbins'
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