The Gibb Collective is a Bee Gees and Andy Gibb tribute album with a twist: all the performers are related to Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy. What began as just Samantha Gibb (daughter of Maurice) recording a cover of New York Mining Disaster 1941 evolved into a 10-track album including her brother Adam as well as cousins Stephen and Travis (Barry’s sons), Beri Gibb (the niece of the Bee Gees who was raised as their sister), Spencer and RJ (Robin’s sons) and Peta Gibb (Andy’s daughter).
Other than Samantha’s ethereal interpretation of New York Mining Disaster 1941, another early standout for me is Spencer’s almost Dennis Wilson-like take on Don’t Fall In Love With Me from 1981’s Living Eyes. The Bee Gees version is probably in my all-time top 20 favourite non-hit Gibb songs and it’s a shame more people haven’t heard that unforgettable hook and harmony of, “Gonna’ be a lonely night / nothing but a lonely night.”
Then there’s Stephen’s On Time – originally a Maurice solo – that was a staple of Barry’s Mythology tour for the most gravelly-voiced of the Gibbs. This time he takes the tempo down several notches and delivers a wild west-evoking, slow-burning knockout.
Also pulling me in for repeat listenings in these first few days since I received the album are Samantha and Adam’s more melancholy, EDM reworking of Angel Of Mercy (a mid 90s Bee Gees leftover at one time recorded by Maurice, Samantha and Adam) and the whole clans’ version of the title track (from 1972’s To Whom It May Concern). I also can’t help but notice an uncanny vocal similarity between Beri and Bruce Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa on I Can’t See Nobody.
I spoke with Samantha via email for this interview which, beyond discussions about the Gibb Collective, also covered everything from why she moved from Miami to Ohio, her favourite rare Bee Gees songs, how well the fans understood her father, what it’s been like connecting with Andy’s daughter, her passions outside of music, her relationships with Barry and Robin and what it was like growing up the offspring of pop music royalty.
The Gibb Collective’s first single will be released at the start of May with the full album scheduled for mid-May. See more at GibbCollective.com and Facebook.com/GibbCollective. Many thanks for the interview Sam! Hugely appreciated and a real honour. All the best for the album and the trip to Iceland! Not to mention acquiring a few animals for the farm. Take care, Tim.
Samantha Gibb Interview – Tim Roxborogh, April 2017
Tim Roxborogh: Let’s start with the title track, thank you so much for covering this amazing little song from 1972 that most Bee Gees fans don’t even know about. To me it’s a remarkable piece of secular gospel with gorgeous chord progressions and harmonies. What drew you to that song?
Samantha Gibb: I actually stumbled on it when I was going through different songs of theirs. I heard it once and was hooked. The emotion in the lyrics and the simplicity of the song really stood out to me. Then when I realized that we had the four eldest children involved in the project, I asked if each of them would do a verse and all harmonize together. The outcome was beautiful.
TR: How collaborative was the album? Did you have any input as to how Stephen, Spencer, Peta, Berry, Adam, Travis or RJ did their tracks?
SG: Some tracks have harmonies from myself. RJ did a couple as well. Lazaro and I worked on a couple of their tracks but, mostly each person did their own take and style.
TR: The Gibb back catalogue is one of the largest and most varied in music history – how did you choose the songs to cover?
SG: We chose songs that connected to us personally. I think that is how you’re able to hear such emotion in each song.
TR: Are there any absolute standouts for you on this album that are the most special for you?
SG: I Don’t think I could pick just one. I do have to say though that Please, Don’t Turn Out the Lights really blew me away with the harmonies of everyone together.
TR: How well do you think Bee Gees and music fans in general knew and understood your father? He’s usually described as the glue that held Barry and Robin together; as the peacemaker; as the “man in the middle”. He also gets talked about as the most gregarious of the brothers. How true is all of that to you?
SG: My dad was definitely a gregarious man. He loved being with his family and friends and was incredible to be around. He always made people feel like they were important and truly cared about your feelings. I feel very lucky to of had him as a father and a friend. I think he was able to understand all sides to a situation, so that helped him be a great middle man when it came to working and making music with his brothers.
TR: Following on from the huge comeback of the Still Waters album in 1997, the subsequent One Night Only tour and live album was a huge critical and commercial comeback for the Bee Gees in the late 90s. Those concerts had your dad and uncles selling out the biggest outdoor stadiums in the world – what was that time like for you?
SG: It was whole lot of fun. I got to travel and hang out with my family exploring some amazing places.
TR: How old were you when you first started to realise that your dad and uncles weren’t just good songwriters, but amongst the greatest of all time?
SG: I think it was about 10 when I found out that they never covered a song but wrote many hits for others. I thought that was pretty incredible. I mean, I know that I personally thought they were the greatest songwriters from when I was very young. It’s how their music made me feel.
TR: How well do you know the entire Gibb back catalogue? Are you still discovering rare tracks from time to time? One of the joys for me as a fan is just how staggeringly good so many of the hidden gems are. Songs like Come Home Johnny Bride, Railroad, Blue Island, Living Together, Don’t Fall In Love With Me, I Love You Too Much, Ghost Train, My Eternal Love, Shape Of Things To Come, Bury Me Down By The River etc etc etc.
SG: Absoluely! Lol. There are so many. Some personal favorites are Wildflower, Kilburn Towers, Lay It On Me, Trafalger. Most people don’t know them or talk about them. I could give you a very long list.
TR: I get defensive if people ever make fun of the Bee Gees and then I make it my mission to change their misconceptions about the group. How have you reacted over the years to people who perhaps only associate the group with disco era?
SG: I think that the real music lovers, songwriters and even the fans know how incredible they were outside of the disco music.
TR: That said, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack is some of the most perfect pop music ever recorded. People as varied as Burt Bacharach, George Benson and Dave Grohl have all described it as being about as good as music gets. Why do you think that soundtrack resonated so much – even to this day?
SG: I think that the energy of the album was perfect for the time. I also think, personally, that all their songs told a story. I definitely think having a visual like the film helped people connect even more.
TR: How big a focus is songwriting and performing in your life at the moment?
SG: I’m always drawn to writing and making new music. I have definitely been busy this past year with creating and working on this tribute album so, I am looking forward to having more time to write and produce. I think I am more a writer than a performer, but when the opportunity arises, it’s always fun. In the past year we performed a handful of times at some benefits and charity events. My band and I are really excited for an upcoming show we have at the Summer Solstice Festival in Iceland this year! We will be performing our music as well as some songs from the tribute album.
TR: What was the reason behind your move from Miami to Ohio?
SG: A more relaxed way of life and a good place for my husband and I to raise our son. We have land and a really simple way of life. We look forward to adding some more animals to our clan too. We are farmers at heart. It’s perfect.
TR: How tough was it being the offspring of one of the most famous bands in music history?
SG: There were ups and downs. It was very fun and exciting at times but, there are always some things that come along with it. I am so grateful that my dad worked really hard at having a normal life for himself and his family. It kept us grounded and connected.
TR: Your dad was a champion paintballer – what are your passions and hobbies beyond music and being a mother?
SG: I love animals and working with others. I have always been into filming and photography. I made a music documentary a few years back called “A Nashville State of Mind” that did pretty well in the film festival circuit and actually even won Best International Music Documentary at the LA/NY International Film festival. My husband and I plan on making another documentary in the future. We would also love to open a restaurant down the line out here in Ohio when we can be more available.
TR: I remember how excited you were to meet Carole King backstage in New Zealand back in 2013. Are there any celebrity encounters you’ve had that still stand out in your mind? Michael Jackson? Paul McCartney?
SG: Funny story about meeting Carole King. Paul, my husband, got to meet her when I was rehearsing. Then when I was done, I was too nervous to go up and talk to her. Finally, I muscled up the courage, but she was already leaving. Quite bummed but at least one of us got to meet her. Anytime I met someone in that world, I always just tried to act normal and try not to fan out. That obviously didn’t work out too well with Carole King lol.
TR: What do you think your dad’s greatest contribution to the sound, success, legacy and even style of the Bee Gees was? I’ve always thought he was the most “rock & roll” of the group. He visually looked so cool playing that bass guitar in the 60s, he complimented Barry so well aesthetically as the two stood either side of Robin in the 70s, and in the 80s and 90s his look with his fedora hat became iconic. He seemed like a very stylish man.
SG: My dad always looked so cool to me. He was able to play quite a few instruments which I think were a big contribution to their sound. He loved producing and working in the studio and he also loved to make jokes and dance on stage. I loved hearing the laughter when he was being silly on stage. I know he loved to make people smile. And the man knew how to rock a fedora: )
TR: How much of an honour was it to be a part of Barry’s Mythology tour? Can you remember the moment he gave you the green light to be a part of the tour?
SG: I can. I was floored. Just the idea was incredible to me. Then, the experience was amazing. I felt my dad around and very connected to him. I think it gave my uncle and I a chance to do some healing as well.
TR: Were there any particular highlights you can remember from that tour?
SG: The show in New Zealand was mind blowing. The location, the energy. I love outdoor venues so, that experience really stood out. Also, the Hollywood Bowl was amazing, considering I had just had an emergency surgery about a week before. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it but, I did. Honestly, all the tours and places were beautiful and memorable in their own ways.
TR: What’s your relationship with Barry been like over the years?
SG: After talking more through the years and touring together, we have grown a lot closer. I actually just spoke with him yesterday about the [Gibb Collective]. I was very happy to hear that he is proud and honoured that we all came together to do it.
TR: What was your relationship with Robin like?
SG: He always made me laugh growing up. Well, they all did. Especially when they were all together. He and I grew closer after my dad passed.
TR: It sounds like you and Andy’s daughter Peta have really connected over this project – what’s that been like?
SG: It has been so wonderful! We are like two peas in a pod. I even look at pictures of us when we were young and we look very similar. Being able to share stories and connect with each other has been beautiful and healing.
TR: Late period Bee Gees albums (ESP, One, High Civilization, Size Isn’t Everything, Still Waters and This Is Where I Came In) are a treasure trove of excellent, lesser-known songs. From that period are there any songs or albums that you’re particularly attached to?
SG: Heart Like Mine, Secret Love, Closer than Close, and This is Where I Came In are some stand outs for me.
TR: If there’s a second volume of the Gibb Collective is it OK if I suggest some songs? Good! I’d love to hear you do an alt-country take on songs like Sweetheart, Bury Me Down By The River and Then You Left Me – all from Cucumber Castle. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but that is seriously the most underrated album in the Bee Gees catalogue for me. It gets overlooked because it was attached to a very silly film, but I’ve always regarded it as the best album The Band never released. What are your thoughts on that album and those songs?
SG: One of the first songs I remember singing was The Lord. I just loved the way they sang that song. I also love I.O.I.O and Don’t Forget To Remember. And we will see. I know we would all love to work together again.