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Doug Gillard's pretty, pretty music

Former Voices member goes for what's pleasing to the ear in all his endeavors

Parry Gettelman
Doug Gillard won't be playing with Guided by Voices at that band's show tonight, but look for him at the Red 7 GBV afterparty.

Guided By Voices fans around the country rejoiced at the news that leader Robert Pollard was reuniting the band's ‘classic lineup' for a fall tour. Austin adherents of the indie-rock cult favorite have even more cause for celebration, as local promoter Transmission Entertainment is flying in former GBV guitarist and sometime Pollard collaborator Doug Gillard to play an afterparty at Red 7.

‘I thought it would be a fun thing for GBV fans. I hope it is. I don't know how many will decide to come,' the diffident Gillard said from his home in New York City.

A veteran of Cleveland band Death of Samantha, Gillard opened for GBV at Ohio shows as a member of Gem and Cobra Verde, and Cobra Verde did a short East Coast tour with GBV in 1994. Gillard gave Pollard a four-track tape he had recorded, and one of his songs wound up on the GBV EP ‘Tigerbomb.' After Pollard dissolved that classic GBV lineup in 1996, Gillard signed on as a new member and wound up staying through the band's last show on the last day of 2004.

Since the demise of GBV, Gillard has been involved in a wide range of projects, including his most recent solo release, 2009's ‘Call From Restricted.' The album is as hard to classify as you'd expect from a guy who has played with everyone from Richard Buckner to Rhys Chatham to Yo La Tengo (at one of their famed Hanukkah shows), and it's loaded with appealing melodies and intriguing guitar work. Reviewers have referenced Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Big Star, the Kinks and even Crosby Stills & Nash.

‘I try to make rock music as pretty as I can,' Gillard said. ‘I really like pop music, and I really like complex chords.'

Falling solidly into the ‘pretty' category is ‘Please, Please, Please,' a recent single recorded with NYC singer Kendall Meade as Mascott with Doug Gillard. The video for the luminous indie-pop song is featured on the Magnet Magazine website in its daily ‘Film at 11' series.

‘She had a melody and some words and needed a chord progression and asked me to come over and help write this song,' Gillard said.

While he was in GBV, Gillard collaborated with Pollard on the album ‘Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department' (‘Bob is the king of titles,' Gillard proclaimed) and in the project Lifeguards. They have revived Lifeguards and are releasing a second album, ‘Waving at the Astronauts,' early next year. Gillard might have copies of their new 7-inch in time for the Austin show.

Compared to GBV, Gillard said, Lifeguards is ‘a little more experimental, a little more progressive rock. Post-punk, power pop, I guess. I don't really know...'

Gillard has also been scoring films, including the documentary ‘American Cannibal,' and playing shows with Nada Surf as an additional guitarist. He and Nada Surf drummer Ira Elliot are members of the unusual Beatles tribute band Bambi Kino, which also includes Mark Rozzo of Maplewood and Erik Paparazzi of Cat Power's band.

‘Bambi Kino was the cinema the Beatles crashed in when they first went to Hamburg. We don't play Beatles songs per se, we play the songs that they covered in the clubs from ‘60 to ‘63, in Liverpool and Hamburg, in their style. So we play stuff that's on the ‘Star Club' album, ‘The BBC Sessions,' and we even do things that they did that are on their setlist but have not been recorded,' Gillard says. ‘A Gene Vincent song called "Wild Cat," for one example, we just learned his version and did it, and we do "Over the Rainbow" in Gene Vincent style. There's no recording of them (the Beatles) doing it. We do everything, from "Besame Mucho" and the cabaret songs they would do, as well as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Little Richard.'

In August, Bambi Kino played four consecutive nights in Hamburg for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in Germany, and German label Tapete Records is set to release their live album in November.

For his own Austin show, Gillard won't be able to bring his NYC-based band, so he's putting together a four-piece, ‘rustling up musicians via e-mail.' He has plenty of Texas connections to call on, including bassist John McCane of the Zest of Yore, whose LP ‘Quality of Life' Gillard co-produced.

Even without a stint in the fabled Guided By Voices, Gillard's indie-rock resume would be impressive, but he just summed it up thusly:

‘I've been around for a really long time.'

Guided by Voices (classic 1992-96 lineup) plays at 6 p.m. Thursday at the East Side Drive, 1001 E. Sixth St. $20. With Times New Viking. transmission entertainment.com.

Official GBV After Party

With Doug Gillard Electric, December Boys, Wes Coleman, A Giant Dog

When: Doors at 9 p.m. today

Where: Red 7, 611 E. Seventh St.

Cost: $5.

Information:red7austin.com