A well-known figure in the Sydney music scene, Simon is best known as a drummer with his musical outings stretching way back to the thriving indie-rock years of the Sydney music scene of the ‘90s.
A founding member of the much-loved Disneyfist and later Modern Giant, Simon was also an original member of the acclaimed Aerial Maps, along with his brother Adam Gibson.
Along the way Simon has played and recorded with many Australian bands, with long stints in legendary Half A Cow Records soul/popsters, Sneeze, plus Lazy Susan, the Simon Holmes-led outfit, Fragile, and his own later ensemble, The Coolites.
With a love of travel, surfing and adventure, Simon’s life has taken him down many a dusty road and to many a backstreet bar. This restless spirit saw him settle in Vietnam for almost a decade, a location where he found a home and where he played an instrumental role in a burgeoning rock scene whilst also working as a high school teacher and writing songs for a number of local bands. The majority of songs written in that period eventually ended up on the three releases for his surf-rock band The Coolites.
The next adventure was a move to Bali to follow his other life-long passion, surfing, a location which in turn led to a whole swathe of new songs …
The Great Ongoing, out now via Bandcamp, feels like a musical memoir, both in the words Gibson sings and the music in which he places them. These are top-shelf indie guitar songs, of both the freewheeling and introspective kind. Jangling guitars chime and occasionally bristle amid warm and wistful melodies. Horns and keyboards add a depth of sound and frame the songs in a way that recalls the melancholic poeticism of Australia’s finest – The Go-Betweens and the Triffids.
‘Now Often Feels Like Then’ casts an eye back over youthful experiences and endeavours, odes are sung to heroes such as Joe Strummer and Anthony Bourdain and day-to-day objects such as battered books, coffee & wine, motel signs and summer streets are littered throughout Gibson’s descriptive songs. The voices of his fellow musicians, Alannah Russack in particular, act as echoes and memories – an additional layer of sonic nostalgia.
“It’s really my one and only proper break-up song,” says Gibson. “I spoke most of the lyrics on my phone recorder just after things fell apart but I couldn’t face writing it until three months had passed. I found some Polaroid photos in a drawer that made me sit down and transcribe the bits on the phone and then write it. Even after I wrote it, I never played it,” he reveals. “I couldn’t face it for about another year…”
Simon Robert Gibson on the single ‘Three Months’
When pressed on the album’s themes, Gibson is quick to sum it up as his perspective on the important things in life. “I guess just the idea of staying positive, to keep moving, stay creative, surf, value friendships, accept that things change and enjoy the new whilst being proud of your past. Honour your own history and use it to build the future.”
Converting that positivity into something personal and creative is something that Gibson has wanted to bring to fruition via his own unique musical lens, for a while now. “People always saw me as a drummer, which is great, I love the drums, but I didn’t want to be just that. I wanted to use all those incredible experiences I’ve had through playing with so many awesome people and build something new from them.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with some of my favourite songwriters ever,” Gibson enthuses. “Tom Morgan, Nic Dalton, Simon Holmes, Alannah Russack, Pete Fenton, Paul Andrews, my brother Adam Gibson and a bunch more, I’ve always been a fan as much as a musician, and the time just felt right to make a statement under my own name. I love authenticity, things from the heart, songs that elevate day-to-day life to something more, and this bunch of songs seemed to have those things, and so I thought it was time to send them out in to the world.”
“I’ve had an incredible life to this point and I see the album as a bunch of snapshots of different aspects of my life that somehow come together and give some version of the whole. As my mum always said, “you’re a long time dead”, so you might as well do cool stuff when you have the chance!”