Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices

Wow. When Guided By Voices was my favorite band back in the early/mid 90's, there's absolutely no way my teenage self could have ever guessed that I would be asking Bob Pollard questions about his band via email 15 years later (not sure if I even knew what email was at that point), but look at me now! As you probably already know, a reunited Guided by Voices will be coming through Dallas next Wednesday, September 29th (at Palladium) as part of their "classic line up" tour, featuring legendary early members Tobin Sprout, Charles Mitchell, Greg Demos and Kevin Fennel, and in anticipation for this show, we were lucky enough to get a chance to ask founder and lead singer Robert Pollard a few questions about the tour via email. I would have preferred a long phone interview, of course, but the fact that we were able to interview Pollard at all, especially in the last few weeks of our existence, is a huge thrill for me and quite an honor for all of us here at WSJR. Here it is:

One of the reasons you always gave for your home recording practices, was that studios couldn't quite capture the vocal quality you were going for. With all the changes in recording habits and studio technique over the years, has this situation improved? What actual studio was your favorite to record in, or what engineer did you prefer?

I only record with Todd Tobias in his home studio. I like the consistency and familiarity. I don't like a real slick sound and don't want it to sound too primitive. I prefer a middle ground. Todd gets me that, because that's what he likes. I used to enjoy recording with John Shough at Cro-Mag Studios in Dayton. They shut down about 6 or 7 years ago.

Whats your personal favorite GBV album and why? Do you have maybe a couple of favorite songs?

It's a toss up between "Bee Thousand" and "Universal Truths and Cycles". Both of them are very diverse records, full of a lot of, in my opinion, very good songs. Some of them being, "Tractor Rape Chain", "I am a Scientist", "Cheyenne" and "Back to the Lake".

What's the difference to you between a lo-fi record in 2010 and one in 1993? There seems to be a wider acceptance of these sounds in the mainstream than there was at that time. How do you feel about that?

Well, I'd like to think that we had some influence and if we did that's good. The stuff I've hears seems to be much more abrasive than what we did in '93. I was not aware that lo-fi was being incorporated into the mainstream. I'm out of touch. We were all about doing lots of songs very quickly. Economy.

You guys are beloved for your live shows, of course, but could you tell us the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while you were onstage with GBV?

I once stumbled backwards into the drum kit 5 or 6 consecutive times. I had simply inebriated myself to the point that I couldn't stand up. We had just signed to TVT and they didn't think it was too funny. It was actually pitiful and you'll probably not see that happen again.

The lineup that you're touring with is considered the "classic GBV lineup," and they tend to play it less flashy than some of the later backing musicians you toured with. Without forcing you to play favorites, how does the experience differ between lineups? Did it get annoying for people to refer to the older guys as the "classic" lineup? Or is it still flattering anyway?

You know, actually the "classic line-up" played it much more flashy. We wore flashier clothes and we moved around a lot more. There was much more energy. That it's still referred to as "classic" is an honor, but I never really bought into that tag. I understand it being used again. It's a good way to bill this tour. The classic line-up playing the songs from that era. I say it's a reason to get excited.



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