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.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Robert Pollard Collage In Liverpool Art Exhibit

This news tidbit is about 2 weeks stale but I have a little extra time today, so another post is in order. I've been an admirer of Robert Pollard's album art collages since the get go- in my mind, he as strong a visual artist as he is a musical artist. So I was delighted to hear that one of his collages, Normals In Tight West (from EAT 2), is currently being displayed in billboard form in Liverpool! As part of the Obscurer: 1 art exhibit, Bob's collage along with 3 other pieces will be brightening up the landscape for several weeks. Bob in Liverpool- nice!

Tobin Sprout - Ester's Day Live Video

Great black and white clip of Tobin Sprout and his band performing Ester's Day at Schuba's in Chicago. The song originally appeared on 1994's Bee Thousand- a classic Guided By Voices album made even more classic by the impressive contributions of Mister Sprout. At that time, Tobin's role in the band as fellow songwriter and singer was growing- the Paul to Robert Pollard's John, the yin to Bob's yang (or something). And seeing Tobin open up for GBV at the next to last show ever back in 2004 was a joyous occasion. Enjoy the clip!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Random Doug Gillard Sketch

Boy, am I having a terrible week. Don't want to go too into it on this post but it has been rough. Regardless, progress on Pop Zeus continues to inch forward...

Drew this sketch more than a month ago, I think. Wasn't so fond of the initial drawing. But then I busted out my new Japanese brush pens and inked over it, using the opportunity to give them a whirl. I think the drawing is much improved inked, though it is just a sketch and not a finished part of Pop Zeus.

When I first started drawing comics, I inked over my pencil lines with a pen and knib. It was as close to using a pen or pencil that you could get, but still get a nice variety of line thicknesses. At some point I can't recall, I decided to give inking with a brush a try. And I never looked back. I just grew more and more comfortable with the free flowing feeling of using a small brush, my hand hovering just above the page.

Then when I moved to San Francisco, I took notice of the Kinokuniya Japanese stationary store in the Japantown Mall. With its difficult (for me at least) pictorially based written language (and love of comics), Japan has some of the best writing implements in the world. And one of those brilliant inventions is the modern brush pen- pretty much a pen with a brush hair tip instead of a ball-point. Sounds too good to be true, but damn if they don't work wonders.

Always looking for new options for the laborious task of inking, I took a trip to the Japantown mall a while back. I went kinda nuts a bought about 50 bucks worth of pens- some cheap, others not so cheap. And there are some that are refillable and nearly 50 bucks or more by themselves. But I want to see how these work out before making that sort of investment. So far so good, though.

Take it easy folks!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

James Kochalka On Guided By Voices

Someone on Disarm The Settlers found this sweet little comic strip and posted more info on where it could be found and what show this would have been, but damn if I can't find the original post. What I do know is that it was created by the extremely talented cartoonist and indy comics guru James Kochalka. And I know the exact feeling conveyed here, all too well. At the last Robert Pollard show in San Francisco, I swear my hair was blown back by the volume coming out of the bass amp. And at one GBV gig a few years back, I lost hearing for more than a day from Doug Gillard's stage monitor. Good times...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Second Doug Gillard / Richard Buckner San Francisco Show Review

(amazing Toronto show photos courtesy of Erin Leah Pride- thanks!)

(post originally written the week of the 11th- sorry for the delay!)
Wow, have I been slammed this week. Work has been crazy. For unknown reasons, my laptop at home has not been connecting to the internet. So whatever scant free time I've had at work is all that I have for blog posting, emailing, DTS news gathering, porn downloading (just kidding)... Plus it is my and my older brother's birthdays this week so that's factored in. The good news is that I have a little time right now (obviously). And my leg is feeling much better (bruises fading, little to no pain) so I will be back full time in class this weekend. Good for my well-being and kung fu, not so good for Pop Zeus.

Regardless, its been over a week since the Richard Buckner/Doug Gillard show here in San Francisco and its about time for this post! Last Tuesday was kind of a rough one for ole Phil. I had too vigorously massaged my busted leg with Tiger Balm the previous night (sexy) right before I fell asleep. So of course it was aching all night and kept waking me up. Plus it was my first day back at work after the holiday so I was drained. I actually considered bailing out all together on the show (boy, am I glad I didn't). But I caught a second wind by early evening and decided to at least swing by the venue and scope it out.

The Swedish American Hall was a pretty surreal venue, literally a Swedish American Hall (thought it might have just been a clever name). It sits in the 100 year old building atop the cave-like Cafe Du Nord club on Market Street, the main drag through town. Parking nearby, I walked over and asked the security dude which co-headliner was going on first, Richard and Doug or Eric Bachmann (who I was unfamiliar with). He said Bachmann, which gave me enough time to grab a slice of pizza at the excellent Marcello's in the nearby Castro (dang their pizza is good- closest to the real deal NY pizza that I've had out here). On the way there, I randomly saw Richard Buckner looking very much like Richard Buckner, sitting outside a cafe chilling in the sunshine. After the slice, I hung out in a nearby bookstore for a while before heading back to the Hall. I was too groggy and hungry to sit through an entire opening act. Plus I get really impatient waiting for the headliner and the day had already tried my patience.

So I stomped up the large ornate staircase of the Hall to the upstairs area. I had never been there, so I had no clue what to expect. Eric Bachmann was already half way through his set, and I could hear the music and polite applause as I climbed. The rooms upstairs were very small but ornate with dark wood crossbeams and thrones along the walls. Kind of a cross between a Bavarian Octoberfest and Lord Of The Rings. The main concert hall was also small, with about a hundred chairs in a semi-circle and a small balcony behind us, rounding the room on 3 sides. The stage was merely a small raised platform with a curtain behind it. A very intimate space though- just perfect for a more mellow evening of music.

Before I took my seat, I grabbed another Salamander tee-shirt (different color) and a copy of Meadow from the merch counter. As luck would have it, Doug and Richard were both standing by the counter when I arrived. So I had a chance to chat with Doug before they went on, which was very cool.

Thankfully the wait was short before they began their set. Buckner's blistering and heartfelt storytelling was just the antidote I needed for my day. And as in the last show, Gillard's contribution was the perfect balance between supportive guitar backing, beautiful and subtle little electric flourishes, and jaw-dropping solos. Doug Gillard's musicianship knows no bounds, easily spanning the gap between the hard rock of GBV to the southern twang of Buckner. And this time I was more prepared for the show, having picked up and spun Buckner's brilliant Dents & Shells (featuring the great A Chance Counsel) and Devotion & Doubt. My greater familiarity with the tunes certainly helped, and I remembered many of them from the last show. And a lot of the set was new material from Meadow, which I can't wait to dive into.

Again Buckner and Gillard blended the songs together by bridging the songs with guitar loops with occasional guitar touches and tonal shifts. And this time I noticed that those loops were really outros for the preceding songs- drawn out and dreamy fades, leaving the listener with time to contemplate and absorb the often dark mood of Buckner's ballads. The following song often began abruptly on the tail of the cut-off loop, snapping the listener back into focus. Unfortunately, the audience at this show was far sleepier and tepid than at the Bottom Of The Hill gig, perhaps because it was an odd Tuesday. But my enjoyment was not diminished one iota.

Thanks to the good people of DTS, I have recently discovered Richard Buckner's amusing and honest tour blog, a great place to follow Buckner and Gillard's extensive and roughshod tour. And if you have a chance to check out Richard Buckner and Doug Gillard in your neck of the woods over the coming weeks, by all means go! It truly was a deeply touching and amazing live music experience, one that I was glad to be a part of again. Here are the remaining shows on the tour...

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.

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)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Random Pop Zeus Character Designs

Sorry for the lack of posts again. Work has been extremely busy so far this week. And my laptop at home is being fussy- can't log onto the ole interweb. To top it off, I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night (groggy writing style) and I don't have much time at work today either. So I'll just throw some more random character designs from Pop Zeus at'cha! As before, these designs are subject to change as the process moves along. And in an effort to not spoil things for you future readers, I won't reveal who these characters are just yet. Enjoy, enjoy and I'll be back with more news than I can handle...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Normal Happiness Tour Dates And Album News

(real Normal Happiness cover courtesy of Rich T)

Ack! There is too much going on, too many news and reviews to cover for the blog. And this week is an especially busy one for me here at the studio. I will do my best to catch up!

(fake Normal Happiness cover courtesy of DTS and albatross)

Here are the only dates and opening acts for the all-too-short Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters Normal Happiness tour, coming to a Midwest near you (no West Coast dates?! NOOOOOOO!!!) in November...

9- Bloomington, IN- Bluebird (opening act- Nassau, Jon McCann's band)
10- Chicago, IL- The Abbey Pub (opening act- Nassau, Jon McCann's band)
11- Dayton, OH- The Foundry (opening act- Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience & Murder Your Darlings)
12- off
13- NYC- Bowery Ballroom (opening act- Starling Electric)
14- Philadelphia, PA- World Cafe Live (opening act- Starling Electric)
15- Baltimore, MD- Sonar (opening act- Portastatic)
16- off
17- Boston, MA- Paradise (opening act- Starling Electric)
18- Northampton, MA- Pearl Street (opening act- Richard Davies)

Thanks to the always newsworthy Rich T for the dates. As for me, I had been waiting for the tour announcement to plan a journey home to visit baby Grace- possibly getting a show in all on the same trip. But being that November is a ways away and so close to Christmas, when I will likely be going home to New Jersey anyway, I'm not sure now. Maybe I should fly home in October and skip this tour (I can't believe I'm saying that). But there have been ominous forebodings on DTS that this may be the last Robert Pollard tour ever (or at least for a while) so I'm in a bit of a quandary. Must think... (dang the Dayton show would be a blast, with Mitch Mitchell on the bill- but then how would I get to NJ?)

(fake Normal Happiness cover courtesy of DTS and thingsthatfallfromthesky)

Anyway, Normal Happiness, the newest Robert Pollard solo release, will be dropping on October 10th! I have a copy of the album (had it for quite a while, but didn't want to spill the beans or upset the apple cart, choose your metaphor) and it is a slice of pure pop cherry pie (so cherry). Todd Tobias' instrumentation is more stripped down and light than From A Compound Eye, but the songs are just lovely. Especially catchy are Accidental Texas Who, Whispering Whip, Boxing About, Serious Birdwoman- heck, the whole record is catchy. I will post a more thorough review as we approach the release day.

The official tracklisting is...

01 The Accidental Texas Who
02 Whispering Whip
03 Supernatural Car Lover (heard on the Bob tour)
04 Boxing About (heard on the Bob tour and as an instrumental track on the Music For Bubble EP)
05 Serious Birdwoman (You Turn Me On) (heard on the Bob tour)
06 Get a Faceful (heard on the Bob tour)
07 Towers and Landslides
08 I Feel Gone Again (heard on the Bob tour)
09 Gasoline Rag
10 Rhoda Rhoda
11 Give up the Grape
12 Pegasus Glue Factory
13 Top of My Game
14 Tomorrow Will Not Be Another Day
15 Join the Eagles
16 Full Sun (Dig the Slowness)

(fake Normal Happiness cover courtesy of DTS and crunch)

And if you pick Normal Happiness up from your local independent record shop or Indianapolis' finest Luna Music (home of the Fading Captain Series, preorder now!), you will get a bonus disc called Moon for free! Moon is the professionally recorded and mixed live performance of Robert Pollard and Ascended Masters from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati from June 24th, opening for Pearl Jam! Huzzah! And the tracklist for Moon is...

I Surround You Naked
Blessed In An Open Head
Get A Faceful
Dancing Girls and Dancing Men
The Right Thing
Dolphins of Color
Boxing About
Fresh Threats Salad Shooters and Zip Guns
Conqueror of the Moon
I'm A Widow
I Feel Gone Again
Games of Pricks
Love is Stronger Than Witchcraft (with Eddie Vedder)

(Moon cover courtesy of Rich T, photo by Rich T, 2 for 2)

Sadly, no Baba O'Riley but that particular track is available on the Pearl Jam concert download site, if you are so inclined. October 10th is a day that will live in infamy (or something) and I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Random Pop Zeus Character Designs

Went to the Richard Buckner/Doug Gillard show here in San Francisco last night and I had a blast yet again. Do yourself a favor and see this tour! Also picked up Buckner's not-yet-released cd Meadow at the gig, which features both Doug Gillard and Kevin March (both of Guided By Voices fame, of course). Will post more about the show and album as soon as I can.

With my kung fu out of commission, I've had some extra time to do character designs for Pop Zeus! Don't want to spoil things, so you will just have to guess who these folks are and how they fit into the comic. And of course the designs are subject to change by the time I get to the finished page (and all this stuff be copywrited, so don't even think about it, haters!). Enjoy this peek into the design process and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Teenage FBI - Rare Live TV Appearance Video

Teenage FBI is truly manna from pop heaven! First time I heard this mighty tune was over crappy computer speakers at the Butte Montana United Way back in 1997 (this will make a whole lot more sense after you read Pop Zeus), downloaded as a preview from It was the Wish In One Hand lo-fi version and I can clearly remember how happy it made me. I instantly knew it was one for the ages.

Here is rare clip of Guided By Voices performing Teenage FBI on Australian TV back in 1999. Great to see Jimmy Mac pounding the skins once again. And Doug tears through the solo and provides solid harmonies throughout. If only the cameraman wouldn't keep cutting away from Bob every time he jumps!

Hope those of you out there in the US are enjoying your holiday weekend. Got some sketches to scan and share- stay tuned and cheers!