Tommy Gibbons

Litchfield Park’s Tommy Gibbons, the guitarist for the nu-metal band Flaw, wanted to play guitar since he was in elementary school, when his father took him to see Joe Satriani at the Celebrity Theatre. (West Valley View photo by Tim Sealy)

Guitarist Tommy Gibbons and the rest of the nu-metal band Flaw didn’t mind being the butt of Stephen Colbert’s jokes most of this year.

In March, Colbert compared the band’s need for a tour van to President Donald Trump’s desire for a border wall. Flaw started a GoFundMe page for the van and was $1,500 short of its $15,000 goal. Trump supporters have suggested the country’s leader crowdsource to collect funds for the wall.

Colbert’s repeated jokes on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert didn’t boost the total of Flaw’s campaign, so he ended up buying a van for the rockers.

“They’re still $1,500 short,” Colbert said. “How else is Flaw supposed to get to their gig? I bought Flaw a van.”

In his Litchfield Park studio, Gibbons said none of it was planned, as many believe. He was just as surprised as anyone. Colbert also appears in Flaw’s video for its new song “Conquer This Climb.”

“I run a lot of Flaw’s social media,” explained the Agua Fria High School graduate. “I’m chilling in the hotel room and my phone keeps going off. I thought it was an emergency. The messages said Flaw was mentioned on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

The other band members hadn’t heard, either. Finally, a fan posted a clip, and Flaw saw it was real.

“I guess it worked with the joke,” Gibbons said with a laugh. “It just escalated from there.”

Flaw appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to help the host decorate the van in a comedic skit.

“We had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to film the skit and the music video,” he said. “Their staff was so professional and so cool to us. That same night, we had to go to Clifton, New Jersey, to play a show. It was a lot to take in.”

Keep an eye out for Flaw’s van as the band is playing Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale on Tuesday, September 11.

Gibbons is a relatively new member of Flaw, which was formed in 1996 after Chris Volz answered an ad in a Louisville, Kentucky, art magazine for rock singers. Flaw released a handful of independent albums before signing with Universal Republic Records. The 2001 collection Through the Eyes spawned the singles “Payback” and “Whole.” After 2004’s Endangered Species, Flaw went through personnel changes. Fast forward to 2018, and it is gearing up to release a new album.

Formerly of fellow rockers Tantric, Gibbons landed a gig with Flaw after a referral by the group’s booking agent.

“Flaw’s always working,” said Gibbons, whose band recently toured with fellow Phoenicians Co-Op. “We’re on the road a lot more (than Tantric) and looking to move up. I have to look out for myself, too. Chris wants the band to keep growing.”

Gibbons has wanted to be a musician since his father took him, as an elementary school student, to see the G3 tour, featuring Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Steve Vai, at the Celebrity Theatre.

“Right there I said, ‘I have to do whatever the heck he’s (Satriani) doing,’” recalled Gibbons, the father of 6-year-old Oliver. “I didn’t really start playing until I was 11 or 12. I didn’t get serious until 14 or 15.”

His first go on guitar wasn’t successful. It was with an acoustic guitar and he hated it, he admitted. 

“I wanted loud distortion,” Gibbons said. “I got my first electric amp and started learning Metallica tunes.”

A music veteran, Gibbons doesn’t look back.

“You hear about the ins and outs,” said Gibbons, who endorses Schecter guitars. “It’s really humbling. This isn’t what people think it is. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything, though. I get paid to tour and go to new places. I love what I’m doing. I just want to support my son, Oliver, and make sure he’s taken care of. I want to ensure my parents don’t have to work anymore. That’s what I want.”

Flaw, with Smile Empty Soul,

The Mendenhall Experiment,

New Lingo, Throw Logic

and Rainy Days

7 p.m. Thursday, September 11

Pub Rock Live, 8005 E. Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale



To watch the Colbert clip,