The Alibis – Band History
Who are The Alibis? Read the (almost) full story of The Alibis from creation and through the Sugababesque line-up changes. Follow the band on twitter @TheAlibis
The Alibis were formed in the Pharmacy department of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in June of 2006. Aspiring guitarist/singer Gareth Fitzgerald and bassist Claudio Gueri both worked in said department, and had jammed a few times together. Claudio decided to take things forward by advertising for a drummer, and Nick Wilson was subsequently recruited.
The band had a very raw sound, with Gareth’s guitar being merely adequate, his voice untrained, and his songs still very much pop-by-numbers. Thankfully both Claudio, in his native Italy, and Nick, around Edinburgh and Dunfermline, had experience of playing live and were able to provide the drive, enthusiasm and street-smarts that this new band lacked.
After a few months of rehearsals and song-writing, The Alibis were poised for their first gig in November of 2006 at Bannermans. The three-piece belted out a raw but enthusiastic seven song set, encompassing songs that would later be much more polished (‘All Fall Down’, ‘Reflection’, ‘Man of the People’) and others which would only be aired once (‘Taint my Heart’, and first ever Alibis song ‘Epiphany Kiss’) and finishing with a lewd and gyration-centric cover of the Sugababes pop-song ‘Push The Button’. The crowd responded positively, and it was decided that, with Gareth working down south until the New Year, Claudio and Nick would look for a more polished guitarist to flesh out the Alibis sound.
In late January of 2007, the second guitar candidate to respond to the advert, Robbie McVicar, was invited along for a jam. Rob impressed the others by listening to the songs, rather than jump in “all-solos-blazing” and after impressing on his first run-through of songs like ‘Touch’ and ‘Should Have Been Me’, Rob became the lead guitarist.
Rob settled in extremely quickly, his keen ear for a melodic guitar line, and ability to pull out a finger-shredding solo (notably on then live-favourite ‘I Will Remember You’) providing depth and range to the Alibis sound, and his ethereal backing vocals providing added harmonies on perennial crowd-pleaser ‘Reflection’.
In addition to his technical skills, Rob was also a more-than-capable song-writer, and his effort ‘Broken Train’ would become a staple of Alibis gigs, out-lasting most others for longevity. He also was able to bring improvement and perspective to Gareth’s ‘hit-and-miss” style of song-writing, with the two collaborating on such songs as ‘Shadows’ and ‘Photographs’, Rob writing ‘Chance to Shine’ and Gareth raising his game to provide ‘Perfect Victim’, which stayed on the back-burner for a long time.
The new line-up played two gigs at Bannermans in March of 2007, and returned there on June 29th, for a well-attended and raucous gig on Gareth’s birthday, which was their most polished performance yet. Nick’s tight, abrasive drumming style, and Claudio’s high-up-the-fretboard melodic style of bass-playing providing a canvas onto which Rob could paint his guitar patterns in broad strokes. The addition of the songs ‘Dreamaway’ and ‘Out of Sight’ also provided a softer, more introspective side to the bands growing song library.
The band would play the now-non-existent Edinburgh venue The Ark in late 2007 before a long hiatus, brought about by scheduling conflicts, holidays, and side-projects. After a return to rehearsals in early 2008, and more performances at Bannermans, The Ark and the Jam House, Claudio elected to leave the band in July as he and his fiancé were moving to Fife. A triumphant farewell gig took place at The Ark, with Push the Button being played again, and posted on YouTube, to mark the occasion.
The Alibis would reform four months later with new bass player, Janahan Bala now joining the line-up. A talented guitarist, fantastically snappy dresser and smooth-mover, Janahan had met Gareth for a drink at Greyfriars Bobby, and spoken very well about what he could bring the band in an unfamiliar (for him) role as a bass player. Jan’s laid-back bass-playing style changed the sound of the band, as he played in a more traditional manner than his predecessor, and he quickly formed a tight musical understanding with drummer Nick. With more of an emphasis on groove and rhythm, new, more experimental songs like ‘Half the Hate’, ‘Move Aside’, ‘She Shimmers’ and ‘Put Out The Fire’ started to make up the core of the set. Jan’s easy-going nature also allowed songs that had been placed on the back-burner to be brought back to the fore, with his driving rhythm finally bringing the often stagnant ‘Perfect Victim’ to the forefront of the band’s set-list. The new line-up played their first gigs in December 2008 and Jan 2009, playing a gig every couple of months until the end of 2009, the highlight being a February gig at Henry’s Cellar Bar, playing to an audience of more than 100 people, to cacophonous ovations.
After an intimate Christmas 2009 gig at the same venue, the band agreed to take until the end of January off before re-assembling to write more original material. Unfortunately, while playing five-a-sides in early February of 2010, Gareth snapped his Achilles tendon. It would take him more than five months to recover, and drummer Nick, who had visited him regularly, took the decision to leave the band to concentrate on other projects. During this time both Gareth and Rob would suffer relationship splits with their respective girlfriends.
With The Alibis on life-support, once Gareth was mobile again, he spent the summer and early autumn performing a variety of solo shows, at open mics, cafes, bistros and bars, trying to improve his stage-craft and musicianship, performing with an acoustic, and a range of new songs that reflected his long summer of uncertainty. Rob too had been hard at work on new material, but without an outlet to express his songs.
With Gareth and Rob at an emotional low, and the band without a drummer, the future looked bleak for our heroes. A practice with a prospective new drummer, which resulted in a no-show from the candidate was a further blow to morale. Things did not look good. Who could save the Alibis?
If anyone ever tells you that one woman cannot please three men at once, they certainly haven’t heard of Amy Brewer! Amy e-mailed Gareth in response to an advert he had placed for a drummer, and, with her dry wit obvious even in the written word, the band arranged a rehearsal with the new candidate. Things got off to a great start when Gareth’s less-than-perfect directions resulted in him having to meet Amy outside Tesco. Thankfully that was the lowlight of what prove to be an encouraging occasion.
Amy made a positive impression right from the start. It was obvious to all concerned that she was a talented and disciplined drummer, who had clearly put in the hours to learn her craft. Her easy-going manner and aforementioned sardonic wit clicked with her band-mates instantly, and she soon formed a formidable partnership with Jan, or “Team Rhythm” as they were soon christened. With a more contemporary style than previous drummer Nick, and a strong relationship with Jan, Amy brought heretofore undiscovered levels of tightness and fluidity to the band’s rhythm.
It is a testament both to Amy’s skills and the hard work of the entire band that, after meeting Amy in October 2010, the band were ready to play a gig just one month later, at Henry’s Cellar Bar, a charity-fund-raiser for Movember, the men’s prostate cancer charity.
Given the roller-coaster years of emotion the creative element of the band had gone through, this fresh start with a new drummer was used to revamp the set. New, fresh, songs like ‘House of Cards’ portrayed the emotional turmoil that had been evident, whereas energetic pop-rocker ‘Somebody Somewhere’ illustrated renewed hope and optimism, while the post-apocalyptic crowd favourite ‘Terlingua’ reflected the increased maturity and improved musicianship of the band. The crowd responded positively to this new direction and shift in the Alibis sound, and the event was a bigger success than anyone could have imagined. Gareth’s stage-fright was now mostly under-control, Jan and Amy played like they hadn’t a care in the world, and Rob was even seen smiling!
Buoyed by the success of these newer songs, the band’s back catalogue was revisited and older songs ‘Perfect Victim’, ‘Broken Train’ and ‘Cut Free’ would all experience renewal due to Jan and Amy breathing new life into the rhythm and tempo of each track. The Alibis would play more gigs during the next few months, with appearances at Maggie’s Chamber and Electric Circus in May, Bannermans in June and Henry’s in July being highlights. Meanwhile the creative juices were flowing once more in Gareth and Rob, and such songs as ‘Fallout’ and ‘Blue Eyes and Gunfire’ were integrated into the set during a spate of gigs across August, September and October at venues like the Wee Red Bar.
This article was written in mid-November following a gig at Sneaky Pete’s, where the Alibis would unveil another tune, sleazy stomping glam-rocker ‘Kojak’, as the gig was used to help finalise preperations for their second annual Movember gig. This gig, titled ‘Mogasm’ was due to take place on Friday 25th November at the Wee Red Bar, with the Alibis playing their most in-depth set yet.