Meet the Band: Doug Gillard (vocals, guitar), Travis Harrison (drums), Dave James (bass)
The Best of Times: A native of Sandusky, Gillard got his start playing in punk bands in the Cleveland area. "I was in Suspect Device and we played the Pop Shop and the Lakefront. I was underage at the time and they would get me in," he says. "I helped form [the punk band] Starvation Army but never technically played out with them. Fraser Simms and I had this project Children's Crusade, which was more toward the Goth-y end of things. It was a great time to play music in Cleveland. The clubs were great and they were getting great bands to come through town." After Death of Samantha dissolved (it has since regrouped), Gillard followed DOS singer John Petkovic and played with his new band Cobra Verde; he left that group to play with indie rockers Guided by Voices for about nine years. "It was great," he says. "I loved contributing to the songs. We would go on tours but they wouldn't be that grueling. I enjoyed the ride."
Other Obligations: Now a full-time member of the indie pop act Nada Surf, Gillard hasn't been able to promote his latest album, last year's Parade On, very much in the past year. He played an obligatory record release show in Brooklyn and did a slew of West Coast shows with the rhythm section of Erik Paparozzi on bass (Cat Power) and Michael Lerner on drums (Telekinesis). He also played a trio of opening slots for his reunited ex-bandmates Guided By Voices (he joined the band onstage for an encore of "I Am a Tree," a GBV staple during his tenure). "I played Cleveland with Death of Samantha and Bambi Kino but not as a solo act," says Gillard. "In fact, there were a bunch of cities that should have been hit, but Nada Surf had some European shows and things kept getting pushed back."
On Parade On: Gillard recorded half of Parade On in Austin and half in New York. "Some songs were brand new and others were written right before recording," he says. "That's usually the case for me. I'm a fan of mixed-bag albums. I like it when albums sound like they're from different sessions. I grew up in rural Northern Ohio between Huron and Sandusky and the station we got in was AM radio from Detroit. There was bubble gum and glam rock. I absorbed all that. My sister's Paul Revere and the Raiders and Monkees records had an influence too."
Why You Should Hear Him: Album opener "Ready for Death" is a catchy, Beatles-inspired song that features peppy music and cooing harmonies. It's far cheerier than its title would suggest. "That was more of a time of questioning and creeping aetheism coming into my thought process," Gillard says. "It started off waking up not feeling great. It turned into more of a philosophical song and somehow ended up with a George Harrison sound. Rather than 'My Sweet Lord,' it's more like 'Sweet Lord Do You Exist?'" Gillard says he has more songs for a solo record and another Nada Surf record is scheduled to be out this year.
Where You Can Hear Him: douggillard.com.
Where You Can See Him: Doug Gillard performs with the Chamber Strings at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at the Grog Shop.