INTERVIEW: He might not mention Johnny Marr or Ed from Ohio as his guitar heroes but Mr. Doug Gillard is one of those guys who you should just know as such. For Christ’s sake just one glance at his wiki page none the less re-affirms that the guitar has infinite possibilities in the right hands. A few years ago he put his 2nd solo album called Call from Restricted and is now working on a follow-up in-between touring and playing with Nada Surf and producing like the Eternal Summers and playing with a bunch of different bands. His pedigree is as rich as it gets. You know that killer epic 90’s song “I Am a Tree” on Mag Earwhig(Matador). He wrote that tune with some bro named Gem then recorded it with Pollard where he did a stint in GBV between 1996-97 with his band mates Cobra Verde. In addition to Death of Samantha; plus a shit load of other appearances. He has a single out too which you should just own. He took the time out of crazy schedule to put pen to paper to a few caffeine inspired questions. So here you go.
CATCH: The Doug Gillard Electric: This Friday May 31st at Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park, NJ w/ Eastern Anchors, Risk/Reward and Lowlark. 8pm doors. 18+
RS: Who and where are you recording your new album>
DG: I’m recording it here in NYC with Travis Harrison at Serious Business, and in Austin with Louie Lino at his Resonate studio, with George Duron on drums there.
I’m also in the process of producing the newest LP by Eternal Summers. Louie Lino & I recorded them in Austin, and I played a little on the songs, helped them co-write a section here & there.
RS: A we never heard of the Eternal Summers until we saw a photo posted of them with you; too many bands not enough time really. Very cool you’re working and producing with them. We did notice the big pro-tools monitor display on your FB page. Do you miss recording to analog or has digital made life easier?
DG: I miss analog a bunch, but it is easier to record digitally, and I’ve come to expect the visual of the files as well – helps you see sections of the song to punch in at, etc…
Analog vs. digital isn’t the debate anymore for most. Rather, its “How does this get distributed and heard?”
RS: Lots of words of wisdom. We wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes we think the concept of demoing tunes for a album has gone out the window for new bands. Do you think it’s too easy for up and coming bands to record their music?
DG: Yes. Though I do demo most of my songs, and get too lazy to want to play them again in the studio, so I fly them in from my garageband demos a lot. Its not just laziness- its also knowing I wouldn’t capture the same spark if I replayed it.
RS: Do you think they skip right to album and lack a song writer process? Of starting with an idea and then proofing on 4track?
DG: Not sure what you mean by this question, but everyone has a different process. I do think that not enough people try to avoid typical chord progressions, melodies or add interesting basslines to their songs. They should live with the song idea for a bit, and then see if it needs something else. Most times it does.
RS: Right who the hell knows what a 4track is. We personally make music when we’re all alone. What is your song writing process been like?
DG: I always have riffs or parts that I record or voice memo. Sometimes I will marry some of those together, or sometimes a complete song will come to me wholly. It varies, and I’m glad it does. The best are ones that happen by imagining or singing, & I haven’t arrived at it by having a guitar on. I like figuring the chords out later, knowing what they should be beforehand, as opposed to knowing what the moves on the fretboard are as I make it up. Those times are rare, though.
RS: What was your first guitar? Mine was a taped up tennis racket that I played air guitar along to van halen II.
DG: I had some small toy guitars when i was really little, then at 5, I got an almost full size plastic guitar with steel strings from Sears that had the brand name “Emenee”. We had a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the family for trading audio letters with my sister who was living in Germany, so I would use it to record and write songs, until i was about 9.
RS: Does you new record have a title and planned release date?
DG: No title yet, and no release date, as of yet. I’d like to see if a label would like to put my LP out as well.
RS: Any special guests planned?
DG: Aside from Travis Harrison and George Duron both on drums & maybe Sally Crewe on a couple backing vocals, none that I know of just yet. My pal Kendall Meade may be tapped for some bv’s. If my last single “Breaking In Two” makes the record, there’s a very special guest in NJ native Erik Paparozzi on that song.
RS: Do you plan on playing some new tunes in may?
DG: Yes- hoping to have at least 2 ready.
RS: Cool we are very psyched for the show! Any covers you would like to play?
DG: Sometimes i do a slow, glammy “Boney Maronie”. Used to do “Some Might Say” by Oasis and “Stop Me” by the Smiths, and in 2009 we did Buzzcocks’ “Autonomy”. Probably one or none at the Asbury show, though.
RS: Nice my band rarely gets our act together to do cover songs. We’d love to do a nada surf song but they are so perfect. We figure so why mess it up. But what has it been like recently touring and recording with Matthew Caws & the guys?
DG: I love playing in Nada Surf. They’re the best guys to hang around & be on tour with, every one of ‘em. And they choose crew people that are really nice & good folks, always. And that’s important. I love the songs, and Matthew & I are around the same age, and have a lot of musical tastes in common, Oh, and we’re both WASPS. Wait, we never even talk about that! The tours went great, and that band has sown the seeds of great friends & fans all over, so its always a positive atmosphere wherever we go. Looking forward to recording our next LP within the next couple years. Ira Elliot is an amazing drummer, and also my bandmate in Bambi Kino, the Hamburg-era Beatles band we have. (We play only the covers they played in clubs from ’60-’62).
RS: Seems as a working musician and the number of groups you have been in over the years it surpasses what any one person would strive for in their musical career. What keeps you inspired?
DG: I always have more music to get out. Always more songs I’ve written that need to be heard. That’s the main driving force with me , always has been, but I also love co-writing with people (Mascott/Kendall Meade, Sally Crewe, and Eternal Summers recently) and seeing what I can add to someone’s song idea. I’m a pretty good bridge writer when someone needs one. The other part of course is that I always enjoy adding guitar textures or solos to others’ work.
RS: We should have been more careful to ask you this but here it goes. Who are your guitar heroes
DG: Oh man, too too many. James Honeyman-Scott(The Pretenders) has always been up there at the top for me. Mick Ronson (David Bowie -The Spiders from Mars), Robert Quine (Richard Hell & The Voidoids), John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees, PIL), Billy Bremner/Dave Edmunds, Pete Townshend, Glenn Tilbrook, Marshall Crenshaw, Geordie, Phil Manzanera, Chet Atkins, Robin Guthrie, Tom Jobim & Joao Gilberto, Bill Nelson, Jerry Reed, Marco Pirroni, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Adrian Belew, Les Paul, Pat Place, John Lennon, Andy Gill, Chris Spedding, Will Sargent, Verlaine/Lloyd, Rew/Hitchcock. I’m sure there’re a ton more. Dave Gregory (XTC)
RS: Damn this is a list. I’ll admit though I know half of these guys but once I looked them up I was all smart and stuff. Last nerdy question. Do you think social media has made things easier to be a full time musician/ artist?
DG: No. Its made it easier to tell people about a show & “invite” them, advertise product, but that goes hand in hand with there now being 10 million artists all doing that, all fragmented into whichever genre someone’s individual tastes zoom in on. So it seems tougher to reach people, especially beyond the several that pay attention to your particular page or feed.
RS: It’s a bender for sure. I was talking to friend of mine who is a used to play in bands for forever and who has been Highschool teacher even longer than . He said something interesting that kids these days don’t consume music in so many ways we did by genera or label. They actually don’t distinguish between genres and on one play list might be listening to Snoop one minute and then Eternal Summers the next.
RS: Last Question, what’s your goal for 2013 into 2014?
To record as much of my own music as I can, while I can, and, to paraphrase a King, to live a little, love a little.
RS: We can live with this. Thank you Doug!