'Harry Nilsson Gave Me a Singing Lesson' He Became a Musician Thanks to His Legendary American Songwriter Dad. but How, Asks Nathan Bevan, Did Cardiff and an Ancient Mexican Philosophy Help Christiaan Webb Record His Latest Album?

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

'Harry Nilsson Gave Me a Singing Lesson' He Became a Musician Thanks to His Legendary American Songwriter Dad. but How, Asks Nathan Bevan, Did Cardiff and an Ancient Mexican Philosophy Help Christiaan Webb Record His Latest Album?


WHAT do you want to be when you grow up? - it's a question often asked of children all around the world. Except in one Californian household in the late 1970s where, for the kids of Jimmy Webb - the songwriting legend behind such seminal pop classics as Witchita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and MacArthur Park - the answer was always pretty much of a given.

"Oh, we were all very much aware of who our dad was from an early age," says his eldest son Christiaan, who tonight kicks off a UK tour in Cardiff to promote his new solo album, A Man Possessed.

"It was kind of hard not to be when we had the likes of Art Garfunkel and Linda Ronstadt coming by the house all the time - I mean, when I was 12 Harry Nilsson popped by for Thanksgiving and gave me a singing lesson.

"You don't really think too much about it when you're a kid , but looking back now I'm like, 'Wow, that was really cool'."

Unsurprisingly, it was around that time that the young Los Angelenos decided that his future also lay in music.

"I'd watch dad playing piano - and my dad is the piano master - and think, 'I want to do that, to write songs," says the 39-year-old, despite then adding that being the offspring of the talent behind such easy listening standards as Up, Up And Away didn't always help open doors for them in the world of showbiz.

"When me and my younger brothers James and Justin put together The Webb Brothers we realised that being the sons of Jimmy Webb wasn't exactly going to make life easy for a struggling indie band," he shrugs.

"In fact, before we found a fan base in the UK we'd pretty much been turned down by every label in the States.

"So it was a big thrill for us when our first seven-inch single came out here and no one realised who our old man was.

"It meant we'd achieved something on our own merit."

As a result, the siblings finally caught the attention of a major label, bagging a three--album deal with Warner Music before being dropped.

"We were probably one of the last bands to get one of those high-profile, big money deals before the bottom fell out of the industry," says Webb.

"But, hey, we got to travel the world, gig with amazing bands in front of tens of thousands of people, so how can we complain? …

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