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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Everywhere With Helicopter - Live On Craig Kilborn

It's Friday and you know what that means- time to rock! Guided By Voices busted out Everywhere With Helicopter, the debut single from Universal Truths And Cycles, on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn on June 17, 2002. Not my favorite song in the catalog, but damn if Bob and the boys didn't knock this one out of the park. This chat show performance is rare in capturing the energy and power of a typical live Geebs show. And the studio audience eats it up, audibly cheering during the break in the song.

I, of course, was on the edge of my seat (literally), eyes and ears glued to my Sony 12" here in my shitty little apartment. Always a thrill to see the band get some nationwide exposure, especially with a kick ass performance like this. Cheers and have a great weekend, my peoples...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

(We Need Some) Earthquake Glue

Wanted to wish my readers in Japan, Australia and the entire Eastern Hemisphere a belated but heartfelt welcome back! (On a side note, I continue to be amazed at the wide range of Pop Zeus readers and GBV fans- Moscow, South Africa, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, the UK, India, Japan, Hong Kong to name but a few. Greetings to all my brothers and sisters in rock everywhere!)

As some of the rest of you may know, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of Taiwan on December 26th, severing 6 of the 7 undersea cables providing internet and telecom service to the region. According to New Scientist magazine (of which I am a weekly reader, ho ho)...
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake sparked widespread communications disruption in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere. Knock-on problems occurred as far away as Australia.

One repair ship is in the damage zone working on Hong Kong's cables, while another is in port receiving repairs for damage sustained in rough seas. Another four are on their way, Ha says.

"If we can get just one of the six broken cables back in service, Hong Kong's internet capacity can be brought back to normal levels by the middle of January," he said. The rest would be repaired by the end of the month, he added.

Upon reading the news, I was reminded of the series of small earthquakes here in San Francisco before the Christmas holiday. They were centered across the bay in Berkeley, along the terribly dangerous Hayward Fault. As I recall, they were all around the petite 3.5 or so magnitude range. The first one was on December 19th, then two in quick succession on the 22nd and 23rd. And boy, did I feel them! In the Presidio, where I live, each quake felt as if our building had been hit by a truck, a short but strong jolt that rattled the windows and made everything jump (including me and my dog Timmy). In the 6 years I've lived here, they are only the 2nd and 3rd earthquake that I've felt.

So when I flew home for New Jersey later on the 23rd, I thought I might be getting the heck out of Dodge before a big one hit. Alas, things seem to have calmed down since. But you never know. According to the USGS, there is a is a 62% chance of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake "capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2032". Hooray!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Robert Pollard Circa 1997 Reviews The GBV Catalog

(all images courtesy of

As you know, I was back home in New Jersey over the holidays. Bumming around at my dad's house for the final few days, I unearthed a forgotten folder stuffed full of Guided By Voices articles and ephemera that I had printed out from the internet or ripped out of magazines when I was living in Butte, Montana back in 1997 (didn't have my own computer until 2000)! Included in this treasure trove (which now sits on my desk at work) are Darla, Anyway and vintage Rockathon mail order forms, my stab at handwritten GBV lyric sheets, and a vain attempt to add up all the GBV songs to date. A big old pile of crap to some. But to me, its a valuable resource for Pop Zeus! And I'm fairly certain that some of these articles are otherwise lost to time, so its a pretty sweet find. One article in particular that will help fill in the gaps is this fascinating article from 1997 where Bob reviews the GBV back catalog...

An exclusive to the GBV Web Page: Bob Pollard looks back at the Guided By Voices catalog:

Forever Since Breakfast, 1986
“I think the songs are really good, but I don’t like the way the record sounds. We went into a big studio and put it in the hands of the guy who ran the studio. So the way it sounds really bugs me- so sludgy sounding. It sound amateurish even though we spent a lot of money on it.”

Devil Between My Toes, 1987
“I still like it. It’s sort of experimental and weird because it has a lot of instrumentals. Some of the vocals don’t sound all that great. But I’d like to do that sort of stuff again.”

Sandbox, 1988
“It’s my least favorite. We attempted a power pop, Cheap Trick thing with it, and the experiment failed. The cover is so cheesy, with like six or seven pictures of us on it. We had to rent a lot of equipment to get a big sound. The guitar sounds good, but the vocals don’t. It probably should have been an EP.”

Self Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, 1989
“It’s a really good record, but they fucked it up when they were mastering it. But because it got fucked up, they gave us an extra glossy cover for free. So that was cool. It’s sort of a combination of Devil Between My Toes and Sandbox, but we had started experimenting with sounds by then. That’s why I like it now.”

Same Place The Fly Got Smashed, 1990
“It’s dark and weird. It’s a concept album. It’s got a linear story about this alcoholic from the Midwest who’s pissed off about living around here. He kills someone and ends up getting the electric chair. I let Greg (Demos) produce it, which is why it sounds so different from the rest of our records.”

Propeller, 1992
“We did Propeller at this place called Encore. And that guitar part on “Mesh Bear Fox” after I sing “It’s rock and roll time”, I was playing that bah-nah-nah-nah thing and the engineer comes running up the booth where I was and goes, “No way, man. That’s just noise.” So eventually we just started doing things on Tobey’s four-track, although I never had it in my mind that you could make a record on a four-track. But we got to a point where the songs sounded better on a four-track than they did in a studio.”

Vampire On Titus, 1993
“I played all the drums on that. I can play drums, but not well. On Vampire On Titus, I cheated. I had to think of the song in my head, then I did the upper body drums. Then I did the music over it, and then I did the kick-drum with a drum machine. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need a drummer. It’s my favorite record. It’s the most versatile.”

Bee Thousand, 1994
"Right before Bee Thousand, I made this pseudo compilation by going through old yearbooks and finding pictures of clusters of people that looked like bands. I cut out the pictures, named them like a band and put them on the sleeve of the compilation. I did that for like 15 songs, including "Gold Star For Robot Boy" and "I Am A Scientist" and other songs from Bee Thousand. It was inspiring to write songs like that. I'll do it again."

Alien Lanes, 1995
"I thought Alien Lanes was a better record than Bee Thousand, and I still think it is, but a lot of people don't think so. It's recorded better because we did some eight-track stuff on it. It has more personality and it works better conceptually than Bee Thousand."

Under The Bushes Under The Stars, 1996
"With Under The Bushes, we attempted a solid, big studio record. I think we succeeded. It's a big step for us. And the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. It's a move away from Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand. The songs are more complex and have intros and bridges and everything. I think it will have staying power."

Interviewed by Eric T. Miller of MAGNET

Monday, January 22, 2007

Amazing GBV/Pollard Inspired Artwork From Navalorama And "Crunch"

Disarm The Settlers, the definitive Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard message board is a regular internet stop for many talented artists. And one of the best is "crunch", aka David- a brilliant graphic artist from Brussels who has graced DTS with many of his pieces over the last year or so. We have seen fake album and poster art, tee-shirt art, all manner of kick-ass Bob related stuff, some of which I have featured here on the blog. Here is a smattering of my favorite pieces from David (of course, all copyright and courtesy of the artist). And please go check out his company Navalorama's website and his GBV/Bob page for more. Great stuff, crunch!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Upcoming Robert Pollard Projects for 2007 - Updated Again!

(Updated yet again with some big news on Siverfish Trivia, another new Robert Pollard LP for the fall, plus interesting label news for Sgt. Disco and Bad Football. Plus I reordered the list so its as chronological as I can make it...)

2006 was a banner year for Robert Pollard fans. With 2 excellent solo albums (one a double album), 3 side project LPs released on the same day, a cracking live album, several EPs and 2 live tours with the Ascended Masters, my wallet has been hurting but my ears and soul are abnormally happy. And 2007 looks to be another completely amazing year for us lucky fans. Some of the LPs that were slated for late 2006 have been pushed into next year, but who could complain? Check it...

Robert Pollard "Relaxation Of The Asshole 2 - Meet The King"
(Rockathon Records. Available now!)
Oh yes they did! This limited edition vinyl only follow up to 2005's legendary (?) stage rant comedy album will soon be hitting your mailboxes. According to Pollard, "the cover is a photo of me lying in a bathtub drinking a beer with a track suit on". More yuk yuks for you motherfucks...

Acid Ranch "The Great Houdini Wasn't So Great"
(Record Company Records. Tentative release date early 2007.)
Bob has dug around in the basement and unearthed 40 more Acid Ranch songs (including I'm Talkin' Brotherly Love And You Set My Hand On Fire, Wee Wee Wah Wah, and Lie To The Rainbow)! This limited edition vinyl only 25 track release will undoubtedly have more rockin' weirdness from a pre-Guided By Voices Bob, Jimmy Pollard and Mitch Mitchell. According to Pollard, "the cover is my dad in the middle with a drink and a cigarette in his hand, my ex-brother-in-law Kevin Fennell, and me on the left of my dad with a pinstripe sport coat and a string tie. I don't know what the f*ck I was thinking". No individual unique cover art like last time, but it should be a fun listen.

(fake Silverfish Trivia cover courtesy of DTS and crunch)

Robert Pollard "Silverfish Trivia" (formerly "Hello Forever" and "Gratification To Concrete")
(Prom Is Coming Records. April 17, 2007.)
Forget everything you think you know about Silverfish Trivia! Studio sessions with Todd Tobias were completed in June 2006. But apparently Bob was not satisfied and more recording and tracklist fiddling have transformed the former Hello Forever (described as Kid Marine 2) into Silverfish Trivia. And as of January 2007, Bob has gone back and changed the record for a second time into a mini-LP to be released in April on his new vanity label! The 7 track, 22 minute album has been described by Bob as "much more somber and strange" than recent work. And Chris George of Invert is contributing new string arrangements. The final Silverfish Trivia tracklist is...

Come Outside (string instrumental)
Circle Saw Boys Club
Wickerman Smile
Touched To Be Sure
Waves, Etc.
Cats Love A Parade
Speak In Many Colors (another string instrumental)

...which leaves the following former Silverfish Trivia songs heard on Bob and The Ascended Masters' Normal Happiness tour in November...

The Killers (previously a Psycho And The Birds track)
Piss Along You Bird
Met Her At A Seance
Life Of A Wife

These tracks plus several unknown others (from the original Silverfish Trivia lineup) are either a part of a new and completely different Robert Pollard LP slated for the fall (more details below), two of the Crickets bonus tracks (see below) or part of an EP of leftovers soon to follow that new LP (confused yet?)...

Various "Crickets" - The Best Of The Fading Captain Series
(Fading Captain Series. Tentative release date early May 2007)
This 2 cd 50 track set with booklet will compile the best of the unreal Fading Captain Series, home of Robert Pollard's solo and side projects for 8 years. And rumor has it that there will be 6 unreleased tracks (including 2 former Silverfish Trivia tracks) to entice the fans who already own the entire run (like me, heh). Sadly, this set will be wrapping up the longstanding Fading Captain Series. But take heart, a new home and new plans are in the works for Bob's more experimental projects- namely, Record Company Records and Prom Is Coming Records run by Rockathon's own Rich T and Bob himself!

(fake Sgt. Disco cover courtesy of DTS and upsetter)

Circus Devils "Sgt. Disco"
(Ipecac Recordings. July 2007.)
Not 100% sure what relation this release has to the previously proposed two Circus Devils albums mentioned once upon a time in Todd Tobias' page. But one thing is known, Sgt. Disco is coming! Sgt. Disco is the legendary 4th Circus Devils release (it will be the 5th one released, but number 4 was called Five... you get the idea) once denied to exist, now a reality! And its arriving via Greg Werckman's and Mike Patton's (formerly of Faith No More) record label Ipacac. Breaking with tradition, this 32 track double album will see the light of day in July (unlike the previous Circus Devils albums released on Halloween, Bob's birthday).

The Takeovers "Bad Football"
(Off Records. Tentative release date summer 2007?)
Another pop collaboration with former GBV bassist Chris Slusarenko. Rumor has it that Stephen Malkmus, formerly of indie rock legends Pavement will appear. The last Takeovers album "Turn To Red" is my absolute favorite Pollard project of 2006. So I'm already chomping at the bit. Hoo-hah!

Robert Pollard "Standard Gargoyle Decisions" (tentative title)
(Merge Records? Tentative release date September 2007?)
As of January 2007, Bob has gone back yet again and changed Silverfish Trivia, making it into a mini-LP to be released in April. So the remaining tracks heard on Bob and The Ascended Masters' Normal Happiness tour in November as well as several others are now possibly a part of new Robert Pollard LP for the fall! In addition, Pollard has written and is itching to record an additional 28 songs, the best of which will also be a part of this project. The known leftover songs from Silverfish Trivia are...

The Killers (formerly a Psycho And The Bird's track)
Piss Along You Bird
Met Her At A Seance
Life Of A Wife

but there are no guarantees that these make the cut, with 28 more new ones in contention, leading us to...

Robert Pollard "Untitled EP"
(Merge Records? Tentative release date fall 2007?)
So this is where leftover b-sides from both the Silverfish Trivia sessions and the not-yet-recorded 28 new LP tracks will go. Tradition holds that b-side collection EPs are released within a few months, if not weeks, of the LP. Lots of new music on the horizon for 2007, kids!

Guided By Voices "Some Drinking Implied 2" DVD
(Rockathon Records. Tentative release date late 2007?)
Hey now! Another home brew Guided By Voices DVD from the folks at Rockathon! Expect to see recent live footage of both GBV and Robert Pollard, never before seen rare clips from Bob and Rich T's personal collection and as many of GBV's TV appearances as they can scrounge up. Sounds perfecto!

(Moon cover courtesy of the Guided By Voices Database)

Robert Pollard and The Ascended Masters "Moon" - vinyl LP
(Record Company Records. Tentative release date late 2007?)
This version of Merge's bonus live album will be exactly the same as the CD version, just on vinyl. Always a treat to get stuff on wax and you already know that Moon kicks ass, so its a no brainer.

And that's all we know of... so far!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Robert Pollard - Game Of Pricks Live Video

Hope all of you who had a 3 day weekend for MLK Day enjoyed your time off! I spent part of Sunday working on new designs for Pop Zeus, which was fun. It had been a while since I drew anything, so it felt good to get back on the horse. Otherwise, I've been super busy and burned out from work, hence the lack of posting. Plus my black belt pre-test is coming up on Friday so kung fu has been my number one priority. But I am making whatever baby steps I can on Pop Zeus when I have the time and energy. Things might be shifting in that regard quite soon, so I will keep you all posted...

And here is a pretty cool clip from Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters' Cincinnati show opening for Pearl Jam last summer. It's the immortal Game Of Pricks, as captured from atop the arena soundboard. Its not quite as spirited a performance as the one I saw in Pittsburgh. But it still rocks mightily.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Guided By Voices 2002 Live Bootleg Available On Rbally

Rbally, an outstanding blog source of rare and live mp3s from many of my favorite rock and/or roll artists, is currently hosting a 2002 Guided By Voices live bootleg in six installments. Parts one and two are ready for download as I type this. The gig was on the Universal Truths And Cycles tour at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City, IA. And the setlist is typical for it's time, heavy on Isolation Drills and Universal Truths stuff. But there are some sweet rare tracks including Short On Posters, Drinker's Peace, Instrument Beetle, Submarine Teams, and The Official Ironmen Rally Song. But what really makes it a standout boot is the high fidelity of the recording, seemingly from the venue soundboard. So enjoy this slice of GBV history as it becomes available and keep checking rbally for more of the good stuff!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pop Zeus MVPs Revealed! #6- Jim Pollard

Without a doubt, Jim Pollard, Bob's younger brother, is the unsung behind-the-scenes hero of Guided By Voices. His varied contributions to the band's recorded output (only playing one live show as the Needmores) span the entire history of GBV. And ironically, if he didn't sustain a NBA-destined basketball career ending injury, it would never have come to pass.

After leaving Arizona State following his knee injury, Jimmy became a member of Guided By Voices at his brother's behest, recording guitar and bass on a ton of tracks from 1986 until 1994. During that time, he also cowrote scores of classic GBV songs including Blatant Doom Trip, Buzzards And Dreadful Crows, Club Molluska, Hey Aardvark, Johnny Appleseed, Marchers In Orange, Murder Charge, On The Tundra, and Radio Show to name but a few. And Jim contributed some of the most distinctive sounds of the early Geebs- rhythmically pounding Bob's back to get the unusual vocal sound on Chicken Blows, playing the distinctive Casio notes on Can't Hear The Revolution, the percussion intro to Maggie Turns To Flies, and providing the yell that kicks off Rocket Head. He even made an appearance on the final album Half Smiles Of The Decomposed- dropping the amp on Sons Of Apollo.

But prior to his stint as "spiritual leader" of GBV, Jim penned and recorded many songs with Bob Pollard and Mitch Mitchell as Acid Ranch. And later, in 2000, he was a co-songwriter and performer on the Howling Wolf Orchestra side project along with Nate Farley and Bob. Jim also lent a helping hand in the Airport 5 project helmed by Bob and Tobin Sprout. And to top it off, he helped produce Bob's 3rd solo record Kid Marine and was assistant engineer for Bob's 4th solo effort Motel Of Fools.

Obviously, Jim Pollard shares a heck of a musical legacy alongside his brother in the 20-year history of Guided By Voices. And therefore he is an invaluable addition to the slim ranks of Pop Zeus GBV MVPs. Thanks for all you've done Jimmy!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Last Of The No-Hit Wonders - Guided By Voices MP3 Live Bootleg

The invaluable Guided By Voices Database, loving crafted and cared for by DTS's own Moonchief, is now hosting a nearly complete bootleg GBV live show, The Last Of The No-Hit Wonders! The concert was taped at the Mercury in Austin, Texas during 2001's powerful Isolation Drills tour. And the taper has since misplaced the original minidisc, so these MP3s are the only remaining source. This is a good thing, allowing the hosting of said MP3s to be officially approved. So download with impunity and enjoy this slice of classic Geebs live goodness! Rare tracks include Sing It Out, Settlement Down, I'm Dirty (!), and Far-Out Crops. Thanks GBVDB!