03 June 2012 (released)
03 June 2012
It’s very difficult these days to be surprised by the myriad of genres being popping up in music these days. Some stuff is groundbreaking but it makes sense somehow. Metal is one of those genres that lends itself to a mash-up with pretty much anything. It was with great surprise however to hear that it marries with pretty much EVERYTHING. Case in point, Tragedy, a metal tribute to – wait for it – the Bee Gees. Yes, that’s right. Metal (loud guitars, fast drums, growls and shrieks) with a disco/pop band.
I had the chance to discuss this with Robin Gibbens, the band’s lead vocalist, lead backup vocalist, lead rhythm guitarist and lead cowbell ‘player’ (at least according to the band’s bio). GIbbens is a remarkably amiable interviewee, and at times interviewer (he has a natural ability to flip a topic right back at you). What was meant to be a 20 minute interview turned into an hour long chat over a couple of beers.
Why did the band form? How did it make sense to cross metal and the Bee Gees? Gibbens tells me that the band started as a bit of fun. He is a concert promoter back in New York and was asked if he could suggest a support band for a Neil Diamond tribute act. He spoke to a few friends and decided to form the most ridiculous band that they could have some fun with. They were all fans of the Bee Gees songs and metal in general. To them, it made sense. It also allowed them to be as ridiculous as possible. Hence Tragedy was born.
The band was only really meant as a chance to have a laugh and fill in a couple of support slots. That has since grown into something else entirely. All five members have jobs outside of the band. This means that they don’t get the chance to play many shows in their native USA – Fridays and Saturdays are normally the only shows they play. However, a perhaps unlikely friendship with Ginger from the Wildhearts led to them coming over for a support slot with them. After supporting them at Kentish Town Forum, a chance meeting with friends Electric Six led to them playing as support for them at Shepherds Bush Empire two nights later. Not bad for a band that started out to have some fun.
That is exactly the point though. Gibbens acknowledges that playing metal versions of Bee Gees and other disco songs (the band have expanded their repertoire to include some Donna Summer, Abba and other disco classics) is in theory the most ridiculous combination around. However, it allows the band to just have some fun. And they aren’t just another comedy band that tries too hard to take themselves seriously. Seeing them perform together and talking to Gibbens, it is clear that they love what they do. It is funny just because it actually IS funny, rather than because the band are just fantastic comedians.
The band has two albums out – debut ‘We Rock Sweet Balls and Can Do No Wrong’ and new album ‘Humbled By Our Greatness’ that are well worth a listen. Full of classic disco-metal crossovers, fans of disco and classic metal and hard rock bands like Guns’N’Roses and Manowar will find plenty to like. They band show a true understanding of the songs they cover and don’t just pastiche them but add something that the original was lacking.
As we were finishing the interview, Gibbens says he completely forgot to show me something and lifts up his t-shirt revealing a heavily tattooed back. He then tells me a story from Birmingham Academy a few nights before when after stage-diving and crowd-surfing back to the front, he gets dropped into the photo pit and lands on some stairs, severely bruising his back. All part of the fun he says. For a band that has recently perfected an awesome cover of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ for their live set, it’s clear that fun, more than anything else, is top of the agenda, and that’s something that is missing in today’s music. Check them out when you get a chance!
The band have finished their UK tour, but will be playing at a free show at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. They’ll be showing Saturday Night Fever and playing a set on a Saturday Night. That’s how they roll!