Chris Gelbmann

Chris Gelbmann

BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Biography

CHRIS GELBMANN
Extended Biography

It can hardly be said that Chris Gelbmann’s life has been uneventfull. Music has always been the focus of his life, even if his approach to it often followed many unconventional paths. After long years of intensive songwriting, touring and recording he was faced with many unfathomable questions inside the unpredictable and chaotic music business. To get out of this situation, he decided to figure things out, and eventually learn how to play the business by it’s own rules. After a rather short time, this led him to one of the most influential backstage jobs on the Austrian music scene. Chris Gelbmann has never forgotten his true roots, which were clearly always grounded in creative accomplishment. Testament to this is his CDs “The Pink Beast of Love“(Released in Austria: on the 07.10.2005) and his current CD “Milos And More” (which has been released on the 15th of september 2006). “Songster” is expected to be released in spring 2008. The recordings are the result of a long journey containing several detours through seldom-travelled areas in the music scene- a voyage few singer-songwriters can truly claim to have experienced.

Chris began to make music at the tender age of 8. He started off playing harmonica and at the age of 12 he changed to ukulele and, finally, one year later turned to the guitar which would eventually allow him to note and set down his written lyrics to music. In proper style, he played his first gig at sixteen in a home for maladjusted girls, where the trio made considerable waves and liked to name itself “The Earl Grey“. During the next 4 years this formation played regularly in miscellaneous locations throughout the south of Vienna; made their own stamp on the Viennese scene, and front-man Gelbmann became something of a symbol for integration of the surrounding area of Mödling. Consequently, in 1991, one day Chris found himself in charge of the programming and management of the youth club “Spiegel“ in Perchtoldsdorf, near Vienna. Through this he began to discover that, unlike most musicians, he possessed an uncanny talent for behind-the-scene activities. Nevertheless, for the time being his main focus remained on his own music. “Earl Grey“ played one gig after another, song after song emerged and rapidly the singer and guitarist, constantly seeking action, began to look for a more accessible medium through which to channel his music, which was by now rocking more and more…
He was now looking for ambitious musicians and eventually met his most important musical companion, Alexander Nefzger. The avant-garde pop group they formed together, “Ynis Witrin”, at first experienced a weird energetic rise to success, but broke up two years after its formation due to several irreconcilable misunderstandings between the band members. As his activity for the “Spiegel“ also ended 1994, Chris Gelbmann decided to concentrate again on his solo career and exchanged the “e“ for an “a“ in the syntax of his well proven alter ego. The “Earl Gray” gigs from 1993 to 95 are remembered by the public as extensively orchestrated crossovers of folk to rock with numerous guest musicians performing with the charismatic frontman. As reference to this period of creation, the “Earl Gray“-EP “Love is Easy?“ was released in 1995 on Bourbon Records / Bellaphon. Gelbmann financed the EP completly out of his own pocket and recorded it in only three weeks’ production time in a little Viennese studio.

During the commercialization of the product, the ambitious singer-songwriter soon ran up against strange and, to him, unexplainable barriers and obstacles. However, this gave Gelbmann the impetus to engage himself closer in the background and business aspects of an industry which did not seem to function in accordance with the laws of a free market economy. After a little training, Gelbmann signed on to EMI Austria as marketing manager in 1997, where he ran the strategic marketing department for two years. In 1999 he switched to the market leader Universal Music, where in the following years he formed the biggest artist & repertoire department of any major label in Austria. Under Gelbmann’s direction from 2000 to 2003, some outstanding achievements were made including: the reunion album of Papermoon, the two highly successful debut albums by the only current “Austro“ pop star Christina Stürmer (“Freier Fall“ and “Soll das wirklich alles sein?“) as well as the first major signing of the exceptional, extravagant, Austrian artist Hans Platzgummer (“Convertible“). However, the masterpiece of his a&r activity is undoubtly the sumptuous 3 CD compendium “Ruf & Echo“ by André Heller (“André Heller is undoubtfully Europes most exceptional, influential and successful artist” - New York Times 1991), who Gelbmann single-handedly had to convince to take up music making again. This monumental opus, which multimedia artist Heller recorded with numerous notable guest musicians (Thomas D.,