Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The O'Riley Sisters (Baba O'Riley Videos)

There is no way to overstate The Who's influence on Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices. From stage moves to power chords, The Who just might be their greatest influence. But don't take it from me. Here is Bob on 1971's Who's Next...
"My favorite album of all time. The Who was totally my model. We’re the drunken Who. I was at the show in Cincinnati where every one got trampled. I had a broken arm and I went by myself. It was pretty hectic, but it didn’t seem any different from the shows at that time. Back then the concerts were, like you saw Heavy Metal Parking Lot? The whole arena would be a cloud of pot smoke with people passed out and puking and cherry bombs being thrown. It was a magical time."
So, it's only fitting to showcase a pretty awesome live version of Baba O'Riley by The Who, a classic track covered many times by GBV. The clip is from 1978 and the performance isn't as spirited as earlier shows- I'm guessing they had played the tune a million times by the point this was filmed. But still, The Who rock mightily, with amusing pseudo air synth-drumming by Keith Moon, lots of mic twirling and windmills, and thundering bass...

And speaking of Cincinnati, here is Robert Pollard on stage with Pearl Jam in Cincinnati this past summer. They commemorated that famous 1979 riot at the Riverfront Coliseum with an emotional and blistering cover of Baba O'Riley. And this clip uses the audio from the show, so its even better than the one I posted previously. Rock on!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Draft Page From The Secret Origin Of Guided By Voices

Hello everyone! Had a fairly boring weekend, obviously no kung fu classes which makes my days far less structured for the worse. But the good news is that my leg is continuing to heal, slowly but slowly. A week and two days from the injury, I can now walk fairly normally with only an occasional slight limp. On the advice of a nurse in training (my roommate's girlfriend) I've been massaging my calf to try to loosen up the muscles and fluid that's been causing my leg to bruise. Tiger Balm and Advil have definitely been my friends during the recovery, as well! All in all, looks like I should be back to it in a week or so and I'm glad it's nothing more serious.

The good news is that losing the distraction of kung fu has enabled me to focus on Pop Zeus more than I would have otherwise. Over the past few weeks, I have been chopping the fat off of the Secret Origin Of GBV section (which I have previously written about at length) with the help of my retired English teacher mom. It was really helpful to have a complete GBV novice read over the section to see if it made sense and flowed. Never really worked on a history-type story before, so its reassuring to hear that I am on the right track.

That's the thing about Pop Zeus. Each little chapter is like its own mini-comic, which will be great fun for the reader but lots of work for me!

As you may know, the Secret Origin Of GBV differs from other Guided By Voices' histories in that the story is told only in quotes (like the Beatles Anthology book) and covers the period from Robert Pollard's childhood to 1993 only. And the chosen quotes were the ones that evoked the most interesting visual imagery. I hope this focus will give the section a different feel than what has already been told elsewhere.

So, below is a sample page from the most recent draft of the section for your perusal! This page is called Early Influences, encompassing the period from Bob's early musical experiments to high school. I though it was a pretty interesting section to feature here in the blog. And you will see how much work went into gathering, organizing, distilling, and editing quotes from many interviews to create this section. Let me know what you think and enjoy!

(click picture to make legible)

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Check Your Zoo" Review (New Zoo Revue, Heh)

Hard to believe I have already had Psycho And The Birds' latest "Check Your Zoo" for a few weeks now, the days have just been flying by. But to be honest, I have only listened to the EP a small fraction of the many times I have relistened to The Takeovers "Turn To Red" since then. Not a good sign. I'm am finding it more enjoyable overall than the full Psycho And The Birds "All That Is Holy" release from earlier in the year, but that's really not saying much.

Recorded in April 2006, Check Your Zoo is yet more scratchy Bob demos with Todd Tobias instrumentals layered over top. In this way, the process for creating this six song EP was the same as many other recent Pollard collaborations- The Takeovers, the last few solo records, and pretty much every other Tobias project from the last couple years. The only difference is that the base vocal and guitar Bob demos are even more lo-fi than normal, recorded at home on his infamous cassette boombox.

And Tobias' layered instrumentals are particularly melodic and fun on Check Your Zoo, especially when compared to earlier albums like the hard rocking Fiction Man or bizzaro Ringworm Interiors. This light touch lends a frothy air to the album, for better or for worse depending on your point of view. And to my ears, many of the six tracks are starting to sound all too similar to recent Tobias productions as if he is running out of sounds and ideas.

And the Robert Pollard demos Tobias has to work with are not the most memorable or tuneful songs in the catalog. The bouncy and melodic Glorified Ushers leads things off nicely- the only song that will have legs, if you ask me. But You're So New Wave, Nothing The Best and Do Not Devastate all have the meandering unfocused feel that turns me right off. His Master's Reaction has an epic feel with Melotron-like strings rising up beneath the guitar. But again it reminds me a lot of other similar sounding tracks in the Tobias canon. And Organic Comes On is also pleasant enough, with a sunny melody and a breezy vibe but not likely one to burn in my brain as so many other Pollard songs have.

Have heard some complaints from fans that Bob is too incoherent or possibly drunk on Check Your Zoo. I seriously doubt it. From what I understand, the kind of mumbling vocal melodies you hear on the EP are not uncommon on demos. Before the lyrics are anywhere near locked in place, many songwriters will babble nonsense over a track until it starts to cohere, feeling their way through a song organically. And that's exactly what Bob seems to be doing here, figuring out the songs as he goes with no written lyrics at hand.

There is always the potential in Bob's stuff for some serious growth over time in how you feel about it. So that very well could happen for Check Your Zoo. I'll let you know if it does, but in the meantime I will be spinning Turn To Red like there is no tomorrow.

Psycho And The Birds "Check Your Zoo" is now available as a part of the Fading Captain Series and at better record shops around the world.

Peglegged And Cracked

Remember when I posed last week about finally getting some positive forward momentum? Well, fuck all that! This past Sunday, as we were warming up in my sparring class, I was quickly switching stances when I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left leg. On this one website, the injury is described as feeling "like being kicked in the leg from behind: the tennis leg sufferer feels an instantaneous severe sharp pain, turns around to see who kicked them, only to discover that no one is there" which is precisely what I did. I thought someone was messing around and hit me with a cheap shot.

As it turns out, I have been suffering ever since with "tennis leg", a "musculotendinous junction rupture: a stretch, tear, or complete rupture of the connection between the gastrocnemius (calf) muscle and the Achilles tendon"- or in other words, a pulled calf. Hooray!

Haven't been to the doctor, but I immeadiately spoke to both of my brothers about the injury. They are long time athletes (marathon and track runners both) with a minor history of sports related injuries. They have helped a lot in the past with good medical advice. Plus, I tend to freak out a little whenever I am injured, especially with 3 years of hard work behind me and my black belt pre-test coming up. So it was good to get reassurance from the experts (prior to kung fu, I had never really done a sport full bore).

They told me to do the ole RICE thing- rest, ice, compression and elevation- and not to sweat it, a week or two and I should be fine (though the jury is out on the recovery time from various internet sources). Coincidentally, my kung fu school is closed this week which means no classes until the first of September. There is a reunion for Choy Lay Fut style kung fu this week in China. And all my instuctors went which of course means no classes. So the timing is kinda good even though I had counted on practicing my forms this week in anticipation of the test.

But today, I decided to do some additional research on the internet after discovering new bruises below my left calf and on my foot. My brother Dave had said that bruises could indicate something more severe, like a complete tear. And there weren't any brusies initially. But now all of the suddden, my leg looks all beat up (sorry no photos this time). So I started to freak out again.

Thankfully, the bruises are only troublesome if they appeared immediately with a lot of swelling. But I'm still on the fence about going to the doc. I may have to give Dave another ring... Now, what was that I was saying about Sisyphus?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Doug Gillard Summer Tour Dates - Updated!

(photo courtesy of Doug Gillard's MySpace page)

I'm bumping this old post to remind everyone (including myself) to get outa your cave and go support Doug Gillard as he tours with the amazing Richard Buckner. And new dates have been added- look for them below. The Buckner leg kicks off next week in Missouri... or is that Mississippi? Of course, you will find me here at the Swedish American Hall. Let me know if you will be there too!

Woo-hoo! Former GBV axe-man Doug Gillard is back on the road supporting Richard Buckner. Had a chance to check out the Gillard/Buckner show here in San Francisco a while back and it was truly amazing. As an extra added bonus, here is my newly improved and in sync video for A Chance Counsel taken back in May- a little taste of what to expect on the tour. And I will definitely be back for more in September at the Swedish American Hall! Hope to see you there, local peeps...

Richard Buckner with Doug Gillard:

In support of Richard's new album, Meadow, to be released September 12, on Merge

Wednesday, 08.30.06 - Proud Larry's, Oxford, MS
211 South Lamar Blvd., Oxford, MS 38655, (662) 236-0050
Tix will be available online thru,
or call club for more information.

Thursday, 08.31.06 -Dan's Silver Leaf, Denton, TX
103 Industrial, Denton, TX (940) 320-2000
Call club for more information

Co-headlining with Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers):

Saturday, 09.02.06 - Club Congress, Tucson, AZ
311 East Congress Street, Tucson, AZ 85701 (800) 722-8848
Club Congress 21st Birthday Party Weekend
Tix for entire weekend (Friday-Sunday) $25 (+$1, if purchased thru paypal)

Sunday, 09.03.06 - The Casbah, San Diego, CA
2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 232-HELL
21+, $12, 6:00 pm doors (Early show!)

Monday, 09.04.06 - Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA
7021 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028, (323) 463-0204
All ages, $14, 8:00 pm doors

Tuesday, 09.05.06 - Swedish American Hall (above Cafe du Nord), San Francisco, CA
2170 Market Street, San Francisco, CA (415) 94114, 861-5016
All ages, $15, 7:30 pm doors

Thursday, 09.07.06 - WOW Hall, Eugene, OR
291 West 8th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401 (541) 687-2746

Friday, 09.08.06 - MusicFestNW, Portland, OR
Doug Fir Lounge
830 E. Burnside, Portland, OR 97214 (503) 231-WOOD
Doors 8 pm.

Saturday, 09.09.06 - Neumo's, Seattle, WA
925 East Pike Street, Seattle WA 98122 206.709.9467 $14, Doors at 8 PM. Centromatic is also on the bill.

Sunday, 09.10.06 - Richards on Richards, Vancouver, BC
1036 Richards Street (between Nelson & Helmcken), Vancouver, BC 604.687.6794

Wednesday, 09.13.06 - Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN
416 Cedar Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 612.338.2674 $13, 7pm doors.

Thursday, 09.14.06 - Schuba's Tavern, Chicago, IL (two shows)
3159 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.525.2508 $15/show. 6:30 p.m.; 10 pm Buy tix for early show online. Buy tix for late show online.

Friday, 09.15.06 - Kraftbrau, Kalamazoo, MI
402 E Kalamazoo Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, (269) 978-0053 18+, $12 advance/$14 day of show. Doors 9 pm

Saturday, 09.16.06 - Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON
370 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A2 19+, $12 (CAD), Doors 9pm.

Sunday, 09.17.06 - Le Petit Campus Cafe, Montreal, QBC
57 Prince-Arthur Est, Montreal, Quebec H2K 1B4. 514.844.1010 18+, $13.50 (CAD), 9:30pm Tickets usually available thru Reseau Admission.

Tuesday, 09.19.06 - Club Passim, Cambridge, MA (two shows)
47 Palmer St, Cambridge, MA 02138 617.492.7679 $15 ($13 for members) Shows at 7 pm & 10 pm.

Wednesday, 09.20.06 - Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY.
6 Delancey Street, New York, NY 10002. 212.533.2111 21+, $14. Doors at 8 pm.

Thursday, 09.21.06 - IOTA, Arlington, VA
2832 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201. 703-522-8340 21+; Details TBA. Tickets at door only!

Friday, 09.22.06 - Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
506 West Franklin, Chapel Hill, NC. 919-942-5506 21+; $12. Show at 9:30 pm. NOTE: You must be a club member to attend this show at Local 506. Buy your membership at least three days before the show. Call club or see their website for details.

Saturday, 09.23.06 - The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC
185 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC 28801. 828.232.5800 All ages, $10 advance/$12 door. Doors 8 pm. Buy tix online thru Music Today .

Sunday, 09.24.06 - Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
1099 Euclid Avenue in Little Five Points, Atlanta GA. 404.524.7354 Paste Magazine Rock and Reel $15, 7 pm Tim Easton & Beirut are also on this bill.

Tuesday, 09.26.06 - Mercy Lounge, Nashville, TN
One Cannery Row, off 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203. 615.251.3020. 18+, $10. 8pm doors.

Wednesday, 09.27.06 - Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
The Loop at 6504 Delmar, St. Louis, MO. (314) 727-4444 21+, $12. 8 pm doors.

Thursday, 09.28.06 - Sokol Underground, Omaha, NE
Sokol Auditorium, 2234 South 13th Street, Omaha, NE 68108. 402-346-9802

Friday, 09.29.06 - The Walnut Room, Denver, CO
3131 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205 21+ $12. Doors TBA. Buy tix online.

Richard Buckner with Doug Gillard:

Saturday, 09.30.06 - The Opolis, Norman, OK
113 N Crawford Ave, Norman, OK All ages, $8 advance, $10 at doors. 9 pm. Tickets will be available online thru OKC Tickets.

Sunday, 10.01.06 - Emo's, Austin, TX
603 Red River, Austin, TX 78701. 512.477.EMOS

Monday, 10.02.06 - One Eyed Jack's, New Orleans, LA
615 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, LA 504-569-8361 Call club for more information.

Wednesday, 10.04.06 - Bottletree, Birmingham, AL
3719 3rd Ave S.,Birmingham, AL 35222. 205.533.6288 18+, $10. Show at 9pm. Opening band is The Saturdays.

Thursday, 10.05.2006 - Andyman's Treehouse, Columbus, OH
887 Chambers Rd, Columbus, OH 43212 614.294.2264 Call club for more information.

Friday, 10.06.2006 - Parish Hall Cleveland, Cleveland, OH
6205 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102. 8pm - Also on the bill are The Black Swans and Brian Straw. Please call venue for more information.

Saturday, 10.07.06 - Castaways, Ithaca, NY
413 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca, NY. 607.272.1370 Please call the club for more information.

Monday, 10.09.06 - Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY
47 East Mohawk St, Buffalo, NY 14203 716.855.3931 $10, 8pm. Please call club for additional information.

Tuesday, 10.10.06 - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. 215.222.1400 $10, 9pm.(Upstairs Live room)

Thanks to a. aminos on DTS for the tour info. And while you are at it, go check out Gillard's updated MySpace page for stinking great rarities you can download and all sorts of Gillard news. Peace out!

Jim Greer "Artifical Light" Book Tour

Went on Amazon a while back and apparently I now have something called a Plog. And in that Plog was this announcement from Jim Greer, as is his wont. Greer is a former editor/writer for Spin magazine, turned Guided By Voices bassist from '94-'96, turned author and biographer of GBV in Hunting Accidents. Rumor also has it that Greer may be collaborating with Robert Pollard and acclaimed director and Bob fan Steven Soderbergh on a big screen rock musical.

Haven't read the book, but I'll prolly go to the San Francisco reading just for shits and giggles (by the way, Artificial Light is also a song by Robert Pollard from the excellent solo LP Waved Out). Here is the announcement...
"Hi, anyone. I'm reading from my novel Artificial Light in the following cities at the following times. If you're interested in this sort of thing, please do come and say hello.

Thurs., July 27, 7pm
McNally Robinson
52 Prince St.
New York, NY

Wed., Aug. 9, 7:30pm
Skylight Books
1818 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

Thurs., Aug. 10, 7:30pm
Barnes and Noble
1201 Third St. Promenade
Santa Monica, CA

Sat., Sept. 2, 5pm
Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival
Seattle Center campus
Seattle, WA

Weds., Sept 20, 7pm
Reading Frenzy
921 Southwest Oak St
Portland, OR

Thurs., Sept 21, 7pm
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA

The Bumbershoot appearance will also feature the premiere of a short film I wrote and directed called Mimesis."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Phantom Tollbooth - Mascara Snakes Video

Hippies! This video is for the mindbending track Mascara Snakes off of 2003's Beard Of Lightning by Phantom Tollbooth. The rub is that Phantom Tollbooth no longer existed in 2003 and this album was originally released in 1988 as Power Toy. Confused? Well, only in the world of Bob Pollard can you be such a big fan of an old record that your request to rewrite and rerecord all the vocal tracks is granted! So here is Mascara Snakes, my favorite track off the disc featuring new lead singer Robert Pollard. Many "fans" used the song as a piss break during 2003-2004 Guided By Voices shows, but I loved it big time- Doug really slayed on this one live. Funny video too- assembled by then future and now former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fat Hitler - Bulldog Skin

Um... having trouble finding the words to describe how terrible yet brilliant this cover of Guided By Voices' Bulldog Skin is. And I can't stop laughing! Read the description on youtube if you dare to know more about what the hell is going on here (something about Korean beer, boy bands and "kimbap"). Thanks to a. aminos on Disarm The Settlers for the find!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Spitting Teeth And Breaking Open Skin

Hey kids! Happy to report that I'm finally getting some forward momentum in my life. It would appear that the rut is over, thank the lord! Was developing a serious Sisyphus complex for a while there. No matter how hard I pushed, life was pushing me back tenfold. Frustration city.

The biggest news is that I was invited by my kung fu school to participate in the black belt pre-test at the end of September! So exciting! Been an advanced brown belt for about 6 months or so and I am very ready to make the giant step up to black.

In my school, the pre-test is really the test that counts. The instructors won't let you go to the big honking official black belt test in front of the parents, instructors and Master Wong if you are not ready. Plus if you pass the pre-test, you are getting your belt, no matter how crappy you do on the official test. And that's a good thing- would be embarrassing to be the only one to not get your black belt in front of everyone you know and respect!

I'm honestly more excited than nervous. Been stepping up my class attendance and really putting the focus back on my kung fu for the last few months. And my injuries from February have been clearing up (left elbow kicked, right thumb jammed, left knee sore). So I'm fairly confident about the pre-test.

The only rub is that I will need to put even more focus on the martial arts, to the deficit of Pop Zeus and this blog. I will play it by ear and see what happens. But don't be too surprised if in a months time, not much progress has been made on the comic and you haven't heard much from me.

If yr curious, the test will primarily consist of 5 hand forms (no weapons, in other words), 2 staff forms (the staff being a 6 foot bamboo pole, like Donatello), and a broad sword form which I just finished. A form is a choreographed series of movements, kinda like a dance routine, which demonstrates what you have learned. Around 30 self-defense techniques and 5 kick series must also be shown. I will need to do a 3 minute horse stance (not terribly long), a bunch of jack knives, some board breaking, and a bunch of panther-fist push ups as well. And lastly, sparring (with protective gear) is on the test which brings me to my latest injuries!..

So the final week of every month at my school is sparring week. And in the final sparring day of last month, all of the 6 foot plus, over 250 lbs towering and beefy testosterone-laden beaten-by-their-dads hard-asses in my school showed up (including "Tree Man", the one that injured me in February and the other guy that bruised my ribs last year). I have since dubbed them "The Gashouse Gorillas", cuz that's just what they are! The students have been instructed from day one to spar with speed but light hits so as not to injure our classmates. The gear we wear does protect us somewhat, but 90% of injuries in kung fu are from sparring. And some injuries can cost you months of recovery time.

(sexy, no?)

So I got a little banged up. Not sure when or who- each one of the Gorillas spar like their life depends on it, full power. The injury you see below my knee swelled up right after class, not unlike a cartoon lump on the head. It looks worse than it felt and is now just a bruise. And the arm bruises in the photo are pretty much par for the course (note the Circus Devils tee, natch). The bangs and bumps looked pretty gnarly though, so I thought I'd take some pictures of them and share a little of my kung fu world with you all.

Take it easy folks and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Just Dreaming...

Lots of Pop Zeus news to follow, I swear... ;)