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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Birthday Bob and Happy Halloween!

Boo! Hope everyone around the world is having a spooky and fun Halloween! I don't have any big plans myself. But I've definitely been getting in the mood, enjoying all the classic horror movies on tv over the last week.

And a big happy birthday greeting to Robert Pollard. Thanks for another amazing year of kick-ass rock, Bob!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Strokes - Someday Video

More about where I've been and what's been going on later. For now, it's Friday so let's have some fun! You may be wondering why I am showcasing a Strokes video on this blog. Well, because Guided By Voices are all over it! The two bands had become friendly after GBV invited The Strokes to open up for them (helping The Strokes to gain more exposure before they hit it big). So in 2002, the Someday video was shot in LA while GBV were in the midst of their Universal Truths And Cycles Tour. Doug Gillard, Nate Farley, Tim Tobias, Kevin March and Bob Pollard can all be seen goofing around in the bar with the Strokes, and then later competing against The Strokes on the set of Family Feud. Apparently, Guided By Voices won the real Family Feud game, but had to appear to lose because it was the other bands video! Enjoy the clip and I'll see you on the flip side...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Robert Pollard Critics Credo

Rock critics of the world (this means you, Bitchfork), raise your right hand with your left hand upon the Satanic Bible and repeat after me:

When reviewing the newest Robert Pollard release (solo album or otherwise), I solemnly swear to listen to the album more than once before writing my review (because as we all know, Bob's music has a unique way of growing on you, sneaking up and biting you in the ass after repeated listenings)...

I promise to actually mention which songs I liked or disliked in the review, to prove that I actually listened to the record and can back up my overall opinion with some tangible information...

I also swear to review the music, not waste space reviewing Bob's lifestyle, age, on or off stage drinking habits or other superfluous and mostly assumed personal details...

I promise not to pad the review by rehashing Bob's background as a junior high school teacher or his recording lo-fi music with his drinking buddies in the basement or his cultish fan base or any other cliched historical detail for the millionth time...

I promise to focus on the newest release as an individual recording, not attempting to compare it to every other Bob release or another band or album or a particular genre, as that is both lazy and impossible...

That said, I also swear not to criticize Bob's voluminous output and complain that he needs an editor. Each Bob release is what it is and was intended as such. And if you can't keep up, that is your problem...

And most importantly, I solemnly swear to not be a smartass. Remember: you write music reviews, not comedy, dipshit.

Good! Now that we've gotten that out of the way... ;)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Auditorium/Motor Away Video

Post punk X-Man parked his forklift, like a billion stars flickering from the grinders wheel... And with this begins the musical odyssey known as Auditorium/Motor Away! These 2 tracks, slammed together for the purposes of this video, were highlights on 1995's all-around awesome Guided By Voices LP Alien Lanes. 28 songs, 41 minutes of pure lo-fi joy. And the video serves the music brilliantly, kinetic and fun with some outstanding visuals. Its only recently that I realized that this clip actually has a plot- the band's van breaks down so a tow truck driver is called to rescue, arriving only to find several other tow trucks are already there. Look for young Nate Farley (then just GBV's guitar tech/roadie/local dude) as the tow truck driver, the mysterious cassette (what is hidden behind It Is You?), the band's reflection following Nate wherever he goes, and the triumphant "come on!" moment on top of the van. Good shit!

Motor Away became a theme song of sorts for my travels out west the following year. I bailed out of New Jersey, where I grew up, to follow my fortunes, eventually finding myself in Butte, Montana of all places. It was only after years of hearing Motor Away that I realized that the lyrics were actually a warning not to "motor away" and "belittle every little voice that told you so", that leaving home won't provide "the chance of a lifetime" after all. Thematically, it reminds me R.E.M.'s classic Don't Go Back To Rockville ("and waste another year") but with the opposite message. Anyway, it was a lesson I learned too damn late and a story that will be made more clear in Chapter 2 of the "My GBV Experience" section of Pop Zeus.

Enjoy the clip!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Blast From My Past - Lampshade Magazine

Just a quick off topic update... Had a frustrating weekend, reinjuring my leg in kung fu class on Saturday. Kinda freaked out that day, but since then I have been treating my leg and feeling better, or I'm at least resigned to the new injury. Thankfully it's nowhere near as bad as it was the first time. But it will take me out of class proper for at least a week (although I will keep going just to stretch out and do what I can in the interim).

As far as I can tell, it was a completely random injury once again. I had heard that this particular calf injury had a high likelihood for reinjury but I figured I was in the clear. I had been back to it full steam ahead for a couple weeks and felt fine. Plus it happened 40 minutes into my class and I was fully stretched out and warmed up. The only thing I can think of is that I didn't really do any strengthening exercises on my leg after the injury healed, like calf raises or jumping rope. Perhaps I just wasn't ready to jump back into it full hog.

Ironically, I would have tested for my black belt this past Sunday if I hadn't got hurt. The next test is in a few months, so I hope I am ready by then!

So on to the topic at hand, Lampshade Magazine! Discovered this spiffy website for the mag a ways back while doing a Google search for myself (come on, you know you do it too!). Lampshade is a literary/art/culture DIY magazine that I contributed to way back in 1995 before I moved to Montana and started self-publishing my own comics. It was assembled by my old movie theater cohort Matt Balzarini (I worked at several movie theaters part-time throughout high school and college, hence my warped movie mind). I forget how I initially was brought into the fold, but I do recall dropping off a boatload of comic book illustration pages to Matt. And he picked through them, finding images that were appropriate to the articles. Check out the illustrations and articles here by clicking on them, plus go to the Lampshade website for more fun.

Looking back at these old illustrations of mine reminds me of how far I've come as an artist, but also the naivete and innocence lost since those halcyon days of youth. And it reminds me of a funny story!

So I had dropped off a bunch of comic book pages for Matt to pick through, and completely forgot I had done so. So a couple years later (sad, I know), I was going through all my old comic book work and realized that most of it was missing! It took several weeks for my poor brain to put two and two together and realize that Matt may still have them. So I contacted him, but he couldn't find them anywhere. Man, was I bummed- a ton of great stuff from back in the day, gone forever!

Then a long time later (months? years?) out of nowhere I get a package from Matt with all my artwork in it! I was overjoyed! Apparently, his mom had stashed it away in her attic, thinking it was junk. And when she moved, the art was found. Matt was very apologetic but it was impossible to feel sore about it since I had my lost art back.

So thanks Matt for the Lampshade memories, letting me be a part of your project and for getting my comic book pages back to me, even if it took a little while! ;)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Normal Happiness And Moon In Stores Today!

(real Normal Happiness cover courtesy of Rich T)

Run, don't walk to your nearest independent record store today to pick up Robert Pollard's amazing new pop gem Normal Happiness! It is only at said indie shops that you will also receive a free copy of Moon, a live CD of Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters, with every purchase of Normal Happiness. Or get your fill while supplies last either through Luna Music or Merge Records, home of the Fading Captain Series and Bob Pollard respectively. 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!

(Moon cover courtesy of Rich T)

Once again, here is the tracklising for Moon...

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)

I have yet to track down a copy of Moon- 0 for 2 San Francisco indie record shops so far. So I have held off buying Normal Happiness on CD 'til I do (bought the vinyl at Amoeba yesterday). But I will post a review of both Normal Happiness and Moon once I get my paws on them and give them a couple of spins. Good hunting folks and enjoy the music!

(fake Normal Happiness cover courtesy of DTS and crunch)

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Got Nothin'... Again

So here is a random video which my inner child would boogie down to- Telephone Rock by Little Jerry And The Monotones from Sesame Street. Bubblegum of the late 60's and 70's is one of my favorite musical genres. And Telephone Rock certainly qualifies. I'm also a big fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets in all their incarnations. So I am totally loving this video- enjoy!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pop Zeus MVPs Revealed! #5- Mitch Mitchell

It's been a long while since I revealed another Pop Zeus MVP, but this one was worth the wait- Mitch Mitchell! He was there with Robert Pollard at the very genesis of Guided By Voices as one of the original 3 members (including long-time early years drummer Kevin Fennell). And before GBV was GBV, Bob and Mitch were Acid Ranch (along with brother Jim Pollard), sharing songwriting duties and conjuring up some amazing and weird stuff. And even before that he was in heavy metal cover band with Bob called Anacrusis (story to be detailed in the Secret Origin Of GBV section of Pop Zeus).

And once Guided By Voices was formed, Mitch played bass or guitar on most of the records from 1986's Forever Since Breakfast all the way to 1997's Mag Earwhig! He also continued to share co-songwriting credits on many tracks. And it was GBV's 1995 lineup with Mitch that I saw for the first time in New York City, that fateful summer day. And after the show, Mitch jumped off the stage and greeted the fans (including me). The gesture made a huge impression and it's a story I will also be telling in more detail in Pop Zeus.

And of all the past members of the band (nearly 50!), Mitch might be the most iconic- long scraggly hair, full sleeves of tattoos, requisite cigarette dangling off his lip, master of the "raising a goblet to the god of rock" power chord strum (pictured below). I gotta say, I'm looking forward to drawing Mitch!

That said, Mitch Mitchell is a most worthy addition to the Pop Zeus MVP pantheon, joining the likes of Tobin Sprout, Doug Gillard, Jim MacPherson, and Greg Demos... so far. Go check out Mitch's website for his most excellent solo band, Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience. And damn if they aren't opening for Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters' Dayton gig in November! Can't wait to hear about the Mitch/Bob reunion and I sure wish I could be there (sob!)...

NPR's Song Of The Day? Supernatural Car Lover!

(fake Normal Happiness cover courtesy of DTS and matted pelt)

For one day only, NPR has chosen "Supernatural Car Lover" from Robert Pollard's upcoming Normal Happiness as their song of the day! Nice little write up on the album and song as well- check it out here. I am super excited as we approach the release day, exactly one week from today. And remember, if you pick Normal Happiness up at either an independent record shop or through Luna Music, you will get Moon (the live album) for free! Huzzah!