The New Kid Rock

March 13, 2009

By Ricardo Baca


Musician Morgan Taylor understands the virtue of early to bed, early to rise. The indie-rocker- turned-family-music-man is on the road plenty with his show, which focuses on a character named Gustafer Yellowgold. (Taylor has Colorado dates coming this summer. Yellowgold's musical DVDs always are widely available.)

"Most of the shows are finished and we're packed up and driving away from the venue at 3 in the afternoon," Taylor said earlier this week from a tour stop in Tucson. "It makes touring easier because you can get the driving done the night before and then wake up in the city you're performing in. Plus I always work better on a fresh morning brain. And it's fun to drink coffee instead of beer."

Taylor, like Zanes and Roberts, has a rock 'n' roll past. He sang and played with Dayton, Ohio, pop outfit Mink, but when his wife, Rachel, encouraged him to start a children's project — an illustrated storybook with a CD in the back — he plucked some fantasy-based songs from his existing repertoire and fashioned them around a cartoon character he'd drawn for a number of years, a cone-headed alien who came to Earth from the sun.

And so "I’m From the Sun" became Gustafer Yellowgold's song, and "Pterodactyl Tuxedo" became a tune about Gustafer's friend, Forrest Applecrumbie, a flightless pterodactyl. Taylor found somebody to animate his stories, and now his shows are multimedia journeys that include the visuals and a full band coming together to tell a story.

"The transition (from indie pop to family music) made sense because of my sense of humor and where my imagination naturally goes — which is to this cartoony world," Taylor said. "It's the most true to my creative essence, and it's coming out of a part of me that's not worried about what's popular on the radio or what Radiohead is doing."

It helps now that Taylor and his wife are raising their first child, 11-month-old Harvey. Traveling the country with his young son informs his ability to relate to children — not that having kids is necessary.