ALBUM REVIEW: Some of you know who Mr. Doug Gillard is even without actually having his phone number in your contacts or perhaps you got his digits from his previous release Call from Restricted. If we lead you to any record this year please let it be his latest and greatest Parade On as it’s guitardedly good.
We mean this with all affection and not a single bit of sarcasm; this is a bus you must get on. Doug’s passion for manipulating a 6 or 12 string guitar is on the same level as Johnny fucking Marr; strum for strum and we never met that Brit. He’s a band leader who will lead you down a path with several possible outcomes. One, inspire you to make your next record greater than good and NOT just ok, but great. Two, in the process make you pay attention to the details, or you will do us a favor and quit playing music so the good stuff can bubble-up. Three – you’ll take a deep dive into the depths on a download binge 30,000 feet of stacked records. Four, sell some off your guitars (Maybe you’ll donate one to a charity like The Project Matters @TPMNJ) while you mull over the second option. Actually you might NOT have to do any of this because this one stands all on it’s own. However, if some of you actually happen to step foot into a record store (even if just on record store day next week) and look up the likes of Nick Lowe, XTC, or Death of Samantha. Some of you may consider seeing him play with his band or taking the leads in Nada Surf. The two shows he’s playing with GBV are sold out so your out of luck there.
The pointed point is this is his third solo full-length coming out on Nine Mile Records strewn out over a few years of being a professional musician. I can’t even count all his other releases he’s played for you but it does not matter that is what wiki is fucking for. If I were record clerk (I vowed never to do so this) — this is the album I would literally point you towards besides the song “I AM a Tree” he recorded once with Guided By Voices. There I said it and it only. Took me two, three whole paragraphs. After that you are on your own.
We interviewed Doug Gillard last year, even played a show with him at the Asbury Lanes and enjoyed him nerding out talking about his guitar set-up. There is enough exploratory timeless guitaring on this album set forth as a reminder the guitar neck is an expansive and mysterious place. Dudes can play guitar and makes all the tones sound effortless while allowing you to hum along with vocal melodies. Our faves on this album are all of them. “Your Eyes” is the most Smiths like one, the opener is another classic similar to XTA or Nick Lowe with something off of Labour of Lust (1979) but don’t let us bore you with our shallow knowledge record store clerkdome. This one is going directly to our top 10 of 2014.
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.
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.
GUITARS: Are you a guitar nerd? Every wonder where certain guitar twangs come from? Here’s Mr. Doug Gillard’s guitar set-up for all of his bands with some personal notes from him for each thing in his pedal daisy chain. Next week we’ll come back at you with a full on interview but be sure to catch him pushing these knobs and tuning some of his axes on Friday May 31st,2013 at the infamous Asbury Lanes down the Jersey shore with Eastern Anchors, Risk/Reward and Asbury/Brooklyn locals Woods Party. Here’s the facebook invite.
Not many folks can say they have several guitar set-ups for different bands because most normal dudes in bands play in just one band at a time! Doug shares some magic and some surprising guitars in his arsenal with some candid notes from his Guided by Voices days, a coming Death of Samantha LP, Bambi Kino and of course his set-up with Nada Surf!
THE BASICS: Boss floor tuner
Boss EQ pedal set for lg boost
Durham Electronics “Mucho Busto” distortion/boost
Boss EQ set for small boost
Voodoo Lab Tremelo
E-H Holy Grail Nano reverb
One-Spot power chain.
THE DETAILS: I use 2 Boss EQ pedals for a clean(ish) boost. One set for larger boost, the other for accents or small boosts. For a saturated fuzz controllable by volume, or in some cases just a good distorted boost, I use a Mucho Busto, made by Durham Electronics in Austin, (Alan Durham, maker of the Sex Drive pedal). Its a great little unit, and the led beam is bright and blue, so it’s like an old Spielberg movie when you step on it. The Voodoo Lab Tremelo is versatile, and everyone knows the Holy Grail is the best reverb in pedal form. I end the chain with a Boss DD-3 delay pedal. Good for slapback, or actual delay. I should probably get a more involved delay, but I’m lazy and cheap. This is fine.
All this is loosely velcroed to 2 Ikea cutting boards duct-taped side by side. Hey, you can fold them up when you fly. Done. Fugghed. About. It.
Depending on the application, I use any number of guitars. For my solo band shows, I use mainly my black Les Paul (76) or SG Classic. I just got a ’67 ES-330, so I may use that as well. Amp-wise, I’ll use my Mesa Rectifier and cab if I’m driving, but backline amp at the venue is good most times in the NYC area.
For Nada Surf, its been the Les Paul and SG through my Mesa Rectifier & 4×12 cab. The Mesa doesn’t have the most amazing clean tone, but it has 3 channels, and the main appeal of these amps to me is the “Solo” channel. Its just a dedicated volume knob/boost to whatever channel you’re on at the time, and provides a huge clean boost. What do the kids say today? “Ginormous”? Wait, that was a few years ago.
Bambi Kino – Photo Courtesy of Andy Bicknell
With Bambi Kino I use my new old 330, and my Hofner Verithin. (Its a semi hollowbody, but yes, “very thin”!). Sometimes my SG with P-90’s sounds perfect for the old Beatles Star Club lp/BBC sessions sounds though. Amp-wise, I go through my Budda 30w combo with Bambi Kino.
With Death Of Samantha, I use the black Les Paul I got when I was with them and played on those records. I also use my SG, and if possible, my Mesa thing. If not, someone else’s amp will do. And has. We have a new LP coming out this year based on rehearsals for our reunion show a year and a half ago, original lineup. I remember playing Maxwell’s in ’86 or so when Ira Kaplan did our sound! We will be playing a few shows this year, too. Just don’t know where or when yet.
I also own a 94 Strat, a 68 Harmony Rocket which i write on a lot, a nylon/classical which i used to write on a lot, and Alvarez 6-string acoustic, an Alvarez 12-str acoustic, a Kay Old Kraftsman Thin-Twin (Jimmy Reed, Hubert Sumlin, & my dad) and an old Fernandes “elephant” battery-powered built-in speaker guitar. I did some demos to “Mag Earwhig” songs on that, on a Tascam 4-track to Bob’s acoustic demos. Good times.
When I listen to things that i come in via the internets or that I pick-up myself in the store i look for a few things in a band’s music. Firstly does its sound rings authentic in a way that I’ll want to come back to it or does it just fall flat? Secondly does it have a freaking hit or a stand-out track. If there are no instant tunes it’s a looser but if I am in another room and come running back to my desk wondering what that song was I flag it with some random number of stars in iTunes — depending if I am feeling generous – nobody sees this so it’s just for my amusement because seriously I won’t remember a week from then until I look back in my listening history. Thirdly does the album carry a mood and sound all the way through or at least until the 5-6th track am I still listening and am I wanting more? If a record can do any combo of these things then we’re pleased around here. Totally know there are things we didn’t get or heard so this is just a slice of good music that was put out there this year and presented itself to the RS blog. So keep on sending it. We promise if you promise to bring you more in 2013. The last 1/4 was mostly a let down in 2012 but we won’t let that get us down.
12. Speedy Ortiz – Sports EP – One of our most stalked independent artist is the gal singer from Speedy Ortiz Sadie Dupuis. If you mixed the voice of Tanya Donelly from throwing muses with almost any respectable 90’s noise outfit each song would be finely represented on the Sports EP. Finely dissonant guitar chords chopped up on melodic vocals is this. We happen to know she is a record geek all the way through and it comes across as she brings her bandmates with her to a leve we can understand. So in a way the output is expected and not a missed hit really. Start with “Silver Spring” then visit the rest. You’ll be a fan like we are. We like them better than Screaming Females. [ BUY IT ]
11. Bob Mould – Silver Age – Just a solid record that was missing from current rock landscape of crap bands who think they know how to rock. This guy is the master.
10. Nude Beach – II It’s a little old school poptopia in a Elvis Costello meets joe jackson kind of way but this makes it very neat. Seriously mostly classic sounding love songs that sound like they were produced by Nick Lowe in the 70’s so if that is your thing. Check them out. We like it.
09. Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs – Call it a super group or whatever. This is just a good record. Maybe it’s a one-off band I don’t care. “Gimme Beer”, “Be God”, “Country Mile” and “I took note” are really good songs.
08. Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy Super solid indie pop release from the guy who could make the phonebook sound like magic. Single “When I Was Young” is classic Mathew Caws.
07. Tame Impala – Lonerism – Fuck this is great. Equal parts beatles and stones if they just did psychedelic music. Ok sort of lazy comparison but it you like spacey music that is mixed in a peculiar way then try a track or two. It gets a little formulesque at times but it’s unique. So high high praises for this music.
06. Torche – Harmonicraft Its pure rock. A little down tuned with a unique metal sound. No gimmicks other than being great. Melody leads instead of a blatant chorus at times. In your face at other times fast prog. It’s awesome and nobody gets it. If anything their album artwork is awesome. So….
05. METZ – METZ – Holy noise! Yes, i was confused I thought bands stopped making records like this but suspect we’ll see more musicians revolt against a clean discernable sound. this record rocks all the way through. Whilst no hits perse it will make you question what you like about bands that are just loud but no identity in their guitar work.
04. Jason Lytle – Dept. Of Disappearance – Mr. Lytle formerly of grandaddy is the dr. of psycho depressing music made for soundtracks. Every note is perfectly spun for a backdrop in a western taking place on a concrete highway littered with broken down cars. A modern odyssey and backdrop to real mayan end of days.
03. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat and Bone – Back to basics is this JSBX record. Actually I don’t think they ever do anything else. No disco era for them. it’s either massive guitar swagger or bust. You can’t go wrong with picking this up and just blasting through your boombox. In fact if you don’t do that please stop reading my blog. Start with “Bag of bones” and “boot cut” then do it. Just do it.
02. King Tuff – King Tuff – Hey here is indie record on subpop that is not afraid to be a psych rock band with melodies and cheeky song titles. Might be a little poserish but it’s gridy and fun in a more nasal bon scott kind of way. Stand out tracks “Unusual world” which is this light rock ditty akin to psychedelic furs, “Alone & Stoned” and of course lead-off guitar hit “Anthem. If somebody every titles a song like that and it’s not ripper stomper – shoot them.
01. criminal hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE LP This is a LA Band that needs to get the fuck out of dodge and over to the east coast. It’s our number one pick because it reminds us of the good ole-days of slanted and enchanted meets Sorry ma forgot to take out trash. Most of you will hate it for which reasons I won’t be able to help you because this record is not polished but shines because of it’s basic elements of song like fIREHOSE were forever loveable . The music stands-out all on it’s own. [ BUY IT ] The standout tracks are “Alan, I’m in Love”, “Immortal eighteens”, “blak water” and “get an education”
As we prepare to feast today I thought I’d post some songs about love and giving a big thanks to the Review Stalker readers, Twitter Followers, music fans and bands. All 3 of you know who you are so a sincere thank you! Finding good songs that are a true thank you was hard. Anyway, It was little over a year ago we went big time with the official RS blog domain. Everybody wants to own their own brand. Right? The unofficial one lived for many years on blogger. Not a huge leap really just more control on this end. I basically just promised myself to put more than 5 cents of my time into it because I spent a lot more time than that listening to all sorts of music anyway and visiting other great music blog sites. Plus it’s always nice to keep one’s ears fresh. So I built a better mouse trap. Anyway, thank you for sending the latest and greatest new music so keep it coming people! Now go get stuffed. I have to go work on my best of 2011 list.
Thanks Giving Playlist:
01) Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) MP3 by Sly & The Family Stone (1970) Nothing says family like a Sly song. Such great music for such song that was written during the middle of the Vietnam war.
02) Very Nervous and Love (Album) MP3 by J. Mascis from Several Shades of Gray (2011) Fantastic mellow J release from this year. It’s going in the consideration pile for best of the best.
03) Thank You Jack White MP3 by The Flaming Lips from the Flight Test EP (2003) Funny personal diary song by Wayne Coyne and the boys giving thanks to Mr. White.
04) Inside of Love MP3 by Nada Surf from Let go (2002) One of the best guitar pop bands of the past two decades. I’m on the hunt for the female fronted version of this band. Any recommendations?
05) We All Love Mother MP3 by Crowder Brothers (1936) From Robert Crumb’s The Stuff That Dreams are Made of A very rare and obscure hillbilly song.
06) True Love Will Find You In The End MP3 by Daniel Johnston from 1990
07) You Don’t Love Me Yet MP3 by Bongwater from Double Bummer CD (1990). Probably one of my favorite covers & around songs all in one. I think I’ve posted it at least 3 times in the history of the RS blog. My daughter just mad my day already by asking to turn this one up. Usually it’s the opposite.
08) Lovenest MP3 by The Wedding Present from Seamonsters (1991) This is my favorite David Gedge release. Maybe because it’s the first one I ever heard. Warning it contains mountain high guitar walls of sound.
09) Don’t Laugh (I Love You) MP3 by Ween from God Ween Satan The Oneness (1991) Quite frankly no music fan should be without this record. It’s a critical element in the lo-fi genre.
10) Love Buzz MP3 by Nirvana Live in Amsterdam 11/25/91. This is a amazing live recording. Totally in their prime in this live set. If you friend the RS blog on the bookface there you will find a link in the notes to download the whole set.
Now go make a list and support your local record store tomorrow on Black Friday. Happy Hunting!