ABOVE: STREETS OF LAREDO
Surprise guest performers are a common occurrence at Streets of Laredo gigs, as are random lessons in what they call “Kiwi culture.” From quips on the best homegrown coffee (“Does anyone know where I can get a flat white around here?” lead singer, Dan Gibson, cheekily asks a small Williamsburg crowd), to tips on traditional Maori greetings (“You kiss with your nose, it’s called a Hongi,” explains drummer and Dan’s older brother, Dave Gibson, in between songs)—clearly, there is no forgetting their New Zealand roots.
Based in Brooklyn, the folk quintet, who in August took first prize in the Adult Album Alternative category of Nashville’s Unsigned Only Awards for upcoming artists, are about to release their first EP—well, two EPs. “We’re going to release them back to back,” explains the elder Gibson, who’s already a household name back home thanks to his role as lead vocalist for the chart-topping rock band, Elemeno P. “I wanted to write music that didn’t quite fit into the band Elemeno P had become,” he says. Streets of Laredo Vol. I & II, will be released October 7 and includes the band’s debut single, “Girlfriend,” a catchy love ballad to New York City that could only be written by a group of self-described cowboys who came here with an Empire State of mind and one mission: to snag a lass. New York might not know it yet, but she has found herself quite a catch.
AGES: Me and Si are old; Dan, Sarah, and Tom are young.
HOMETOWN: Auckland, New Zealand
CURRENT LOCATION: We’ve found a great little community in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
WHO’S IN THE BAND: Daniel Gibson on lead vocals and acoustic guitar; my wife, Sarah Gibson on vocals, percussion, and melodic; our producer Si Moore on electric guitar; Tom Darlow also on electric guitar; and me on drums and vocals, make the core of Streets of Laredo—but the number of members changes depending on the gig. We like to collaborate a lot with our friends in Bushwick, so at any given show there may be members of Bird Courage, Workman Song, or Billy and Gabi on stage—we all help out in each other’s bands and play with each other when we can.
“GIRLFRIEND”: This song kind of evolved over the time between when we left New Zealand and when we moved to New York. Dan had starting working on it when he was acting in this little indie film back home, so it started out being loosely based on the character he was playing. But when we moved to New York we continued working on it, and it naturally grew into a song about moving here—New York playing the part of a relentless and wild-spirited girlfriend, and us just trying to keep up.
ALL IN A NAME: The name came from the song “Streets of Laredo,” we liked the sentiment—which is, an old dying cowboy giving advice to a young up-and-coming cowboy. I especially liked it as I am Dan’s older brother, nine years older, and he is most definitely an up-and-coming cowboy.
NEW YORK BEGINNINGS: I think being in a band is hard, regardless of where you are. It’s just tough, period. So we thought if we’re going start a band from scratch, knowing full well it won’t be easy, why not just start in a massive pond.
FAMOUS ROOTS: In some ways, being in Streets of Laredo is similar to Elemeno P. Bands do become like family, only in Streets of Laredo, most of the band literally is my family. I guess the biggest difference is we’re doing this all independently. We have no label, manager, or booking agent, so there’s a lot more work involved, plus we have the additional problem of actually surviving in a new city. I guess also our focus is a bit different, we’re really focused on enjoying the ride, having adventures and not worrying so much about things like ambition and commercial success.
INFLUENCES: It’s different for all of us but my number one influence is Paul Simon—both as Simon and Garfunkel, melody and harmony, and as a solo artist, both rhythmically and lyrically.
JAM SESSIONS: Usually one of us has an idea or song they have been working on themselves for a while. Once it’s taken a bit of shape in an isolated place, that person usually brings it to the group and we work it up from there.
STREETS OF LAREDO WILL PLAY AN EP RELEASE SHOW AT CAMEO GALLERY OCTOBER 11, AND CMJ SHOWCASES AT LE POISSON ROUGE OCTOBER 15 AND ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL OCTOBER 16. THEIR DEBUT DOUBLE EP, STREETS OF LAREDO VOL. I & II, IS OUT OCTOBER 7. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, PLEASE VISIT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.