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, January 24, 2007

Robert Pollard Circa 1997 Reviews The GBV Catalog


(all images courtesy of gbvdb.com)

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 gbv.com 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

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