by John Gribbin
John Gribbin is a young singer/songwriter and flamboyant man of the hills. He readily breaks hearts and minds with his music going under the name of ‘Building Pictures’, and holds the key to the town of Castledawson.
The last year or so has definitely been a step up in pace for myself and for Building Pictures! I suppose going back as far as last Summer I was running around putting together my second EP, which was entitled ‘Joey And The Moon‘. It was great to have something for Glasgowbury ’09, and I was so happy with how it turned out.
For me though the Joey EP was primarily recorded for the purpose of my first trip stateside. I was recording those tunes with America in mind, and I really wanted to have something in hand that I could take with me to sell at shows, and to hand out when networking with all the industry heads and potential co-writers out there. Just at the start of August I touched down in New York. With my acoustic guitar under my arm, I kipped on a sofa in New Jersey for a week or so with my good friend Megan from Antrim town, and then I got myself my own room just off Broadway on Queens Island with a few eejits from Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia….so you can imagine our house was a bit of a weird mix. There is nothing that really compares to the sight of a couple of Serbians eating bread folded round some raw bacon for breakfast whilst I attempt to eat my Rice Crispies (which actually tasted exactly the same as the ones you get at home, class…).
I was only in New York a couple of weeks and I had a full band around me; (three fine fellows) Jacob on keys, Rob on bass and Kenny on drums – names which I seemed to find really funny every time I introduced them at shows, I suppose they are not the sorta’ men you are gonna’ meet in Castledawson on an evening. Our first show was in Arlenes Grocery, a legendary venue, and one that has given bands like The Strokes their first gigs. I only had three months in NYC in total, but every time I think about it I remember something great that I got up to, or someone mad that I met on the subway at 3am. What really surprised me about the city was how helpful everyone is…it actually was a weird feeling to meet someone that owes you nothing, yet they shake your hand and ask “Hey man!! what can I do for you?”, this was the typical greeting I got from all the promoters, venues, bands, songwriters, labels, publishers etc…they are just so bloody nice! It really was refreshing.
I think one of the big highlights for me, apart from the gigs (which were the best of my life), was the ASCAP songwriters workshop that I got invited to take part in. I was the only ‘Paddy‘ there, among the nine other songwriters. The deal was that you had to play some of your music to the group, then everyone discussed it. Then you walked away with everyone’s opinions in your head, wrote a new tune, ASCAP payed for the recording of it, then you brought it back to the group and this time around you got it listened to by a shit load of massively successful songwriters. It was a pretty daunting thing like, but it was deadly craic at the same time. I had some man who had written J-Lo’s last album assigned to talk to me about my tune, and he couldn’t get enough of it. Pretty weird actually, but I suppose all these top songwriters are able to appreciate all types of music, which is really cool.
…anyway, I made some great friends from the workshop, wrote some tunes with them after we finished, and totally annihilated all the free food that ASCAP were laying on. So I’ve got Jacob and the lads out in NYC waiting on me to get back out and do a few shows, and I can’t wait to get back out there to be honest. Since getting home I have spent so much time in the studio working on loads of new tunes, particularly a few co-writes that I did out in the states. I’ve done a session with Rory McConnell on BBC Radio 1, and just this week did a wee interview with the legend that is Stephen McCauley on his show, Electric Mainline – and Stephen is going to have me back very soon for a full session with some lovely cello accompaniment all being well.
June will be a busy month for recording as well as some lovely shows in Belfast, Ballynahinch, and Draperstown…and as for Glasgowbury 2010 – is there really anything that comes close to sitting on a hill, looking at the Sperrins with an ice cream in your hand and a burger in the other; getting your head blown off you by MojoFURY and the like?