Gavin Elder

Gavin Elder


The leader of the undie-rock movement. That is perhaps to say "undependent." It's rock, pop, indie, psychedelic, noisy, intimate, and forward-thinking, and the live band will hand you your own brain on a strobe machine-garnished platter, while smoke billows out of Pikachu's nearby head.


In October 2004, Gavin Elder went to Nashville with nine songs. With the help of drummer/ producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) and engineer/producer Charlie Brocco, the nine songs were completed in 11 days. During recording at the Hum Depot in Nashville, the three collaborators furiously switched between various brilliant- and horrible-sounding guitars and keyboards to create the perfect soundscape for each tune. All of this madness resulted in Rock and/or Roll, featuring Gavin playing all of the instruments, except for the drums (Ken Coomer), brass section (Sonic Fedora), and clarinet (Jim Hoke).

The record is both thematically and instrumentally varied. The first song, “Hum,” opens with the hypnotic pulse of several syncopated synthesizers, generating a steady groove, followed by the alluring first line “She’s got a circuit in her blood that makes her body hum.” The pounding insistence of “Hum” downshifts into the spare “Holes,” a home movie that’s missing a few frames. Continuing on, the evolutionary pop of “Subject 99” switches to the waking crescendo of “Slow Boat”; the frantic ragtime of “The War of Alice Ann” is replaced by the opiated dynamics of “Dr. Gerald E. Bunker,” which recedes into the psychedelic carousel of “Grean Devil.” The penultimate song, “My Big Head,” thinks its way into the final song, “Next Time Around.” The record ends with the speaker hoping to devolve into a jellyfish, a razor blade, and, finally, a rabbit.



Written By: Gavin Elder

The picture stutters out of sync with the sound
Colors on the wall start to mingle around
A yellow birthday cake, five candles of blue
Lead marks on the wall show how much I grew

What was it you told me? Five is such a big age to be
Will I still want a birthday party when I turn thirty-three

These are parts of a whole
These are windows captured on rolls
Of celluloid
It's not so easy, boy
To be full of holes

Burn out to white, load another reel
Searching for more casualties to reveal
Matted shocks of hair on a dog that won’t play
The beast friend of a boy falls apart in three days

What was it you taught me about responsibility?
Can I throw the ball far enough that he won’t come back to me?

These are parts of a whole
These are windows captured on rolls
Of celluloid
It's not so easy, boy
To be full of holes

A sudden flare of the lens, I’ve lost clarity
Incandescence lends obscurity
This could be anybody’s life on display
How did I get color from a palette of grey?

Even Ludovico could see that I can’t take any more
Can I use the sticks in my eyes to prop me up off the floor?

These are parts of a whole
These are windows captured on rolls

Subject 99

Written By: Gavin Elder

Discovered by some scientists living on an island near Peru
Experiments with monkeys, they taught one monk to wash his food
Some others imitated, they picked right up on what to do
‘Til 98 was greeted, by one who’ll finally change the rules

Caught herself washing apples
Unaware of her own designs
Soon hundreds emulate it
Make way for monkey 99

The rest need not see to fall in line
Is there some sense of the divine?
All hail this monkey 99

A man sits out one sunny day beside a Mexican café
Observes the teeming masses, exquisite dances happen
He leans back with his eyes closed, into an angle of repose,
And through the seams he sees how these cars and roads and empires came to be

When I’m stuck inside this
Grand network of our lifetimes
Til others like him follow
We wait for subject 99

Just like the prophets of our time
Is there some sense of the divine?
We wait for subject 99

I will walk, I will think, I will wake the other nine-tenths
Of my brain from below, I will catch the falling snow
On my tongue I will taste the sour and the bitter
And when the sweet morning comes, I will learn, I will love

We wait for subject 99
Just like the prophets of our time
Is there some sense of the divine?
We wait for subject 99

My Big Head

Written By: Gavin Elder

I thought so much I stretched my brain,
Now we can all take cover in the pouring rain under
My big head

Hypothesized now prosthelysized,
Is my body on straight? Does it match the eyes on
My big head?

The ever-growing hemispheres are
Running out of room in here
Now I'm lucky if I
Keep her up

No body ever knew my name til they
Saw the locks of the giant mane on
My big head

Front cover of a fashion magazine
Now they all wanna look the same as
My big head

Away away away, I'm gonna float away
Hoist the anchor and drop the ballast and meet me in the space out there
And soon the news will say "If we grow a little more each day
We'll need our own ZIP codes and ground controls and shopping malls with Big and Talls."

No body ever knew my name til they
Climbed the stalks of the giant mane on
My big head

Now the traffic looks like rice and grains, so I
Tip my big hat to the passing planes by
My big head

We're filling up the skies
Like fireflies
Dot the hillsides
In the summertime

Now photosynthesis is done
One by one we block out the sun with
Our big heads

The world's together under sentient skies
We've obliterated all truth and lies
Under our big heads

Away away away
We're all gonna float away
With our big heads


Rock and/or Roll - unreleased as of 11/05

Set List

The following songs are in the rotation to be played:
Subject 99
Slow Boat
The War of Alice Ann
Dr. Gerald E. Bunker
My Big Head
Grean Devil
Next Time Around
If Only You Weren't Human
Another Body
Leave It To Tuesday
Willie Nelson's Guitar