Guided by Voices: left to right: Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos, Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Kevin March.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Not that anyone's complaining, except maybe for the diehard fan who is short on cash, but Guided by Voices records keep coming, even after you hear the last one might be their last.
"It's like 'Free Beer Tomorrow.' It's always out there," says guitarist Tobin Sprout says with a laugh. "We were just going to do the one album, the ["Let's Go Eat the Factory"] album, and then it just kind of snowballed and there's no reason to stop. Bob and I are writing quite a bit now, so whenever we get a group of songs together we seem to put out another album. And so 'Cool Planet's' coming out and after tour we might start working on another one."
Guide by Voices
With: Death of Samantha.
Where: Mr. Smalls, Millvale.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $25; wwwmrsmalls.com.
Since reuniting in 2010 (after the 2004 split), the Dayton, Ohio-based band, beloved for its lo-fi psych-rock albums and boozy live shows, has released six albums, in addition to the half-dozen solo albums released by frontman Robert Pollard and the Sprout solo album, and we won't even go into side projects.
It's the kind of production that can overwhelm a fan base.
"I think they're pretty accepting," the guitarist says. "When we first stated putting albums out, we put them out for ourselves and that's kind of what we're still doing. We still get this buzz just putting the album out knowing that it's out there and we have such a fan base they still sell. They're quality albums, so it's not like we're throwing them out there to see how many albums we can put out."
"Cool Planet," recorded during the polar vortex, weighs in with 18 songs that adhere to the GBV style of British-influenced rock with surreal lyrical touches. Sprout offers up a pair of songs with "Psychotic Crush" and "All American Boy." Mr. Pollard can pump these things out before breakfast.
"He's constantly listening to old stuff and new stuff and buying albums, so I think that keeps him inspired. He writes a lot more than I do, obviously, so when there's an album coming up, I have to force myself to write. I get kind of lazy about it sometimes."
GBV has gone through various stages, from the primitive early indies to the mid-'90s series of Merge classics (including "Alien Lanes" and "Under the Bushes Under the Stars") to the more slickly produced records, starting with the Ric Ocasek-helmed "Do the Collapse."
Although the Merge albums may hold a special place for fans, partly because that's where a lot of people discovered them, Mr. Sprout doesn't see that much fan bias for any particular era.
"I get the impression that once we go out and play them live... Like 'The Head' is from the 'Factory' album and it seems to all of a sudden just fit in the set as well as you know 'Pimple Zoo' [from 'Alien Lanes']. It just feels the same to me, so once we get the songs out and they start hearing them, they sort of blend into the whole catalogue. So, I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing 'Cool Planet,' because all these songs from this new album seem to play really well live. I think it's gonna be a good show."
The latest personnel shakeup has Kevin March on drums in place of Kevin Fennell who parted ways with the band very publicly last year in the midst of him using the GBV name to try to sell the drums he used on "Bee Thousand" on ebay for $50,000. It culminated with Mr. Pollard releasing a statement, "Do not delude yourself, Kevin, that people gave [an expletive] who was behind that drum kit."
Asked about how that played with the rest of the band, Mr. Sprout says, "I can't say what was on Kevin's mind or Bob's mind. I didn't think it was a good idea to put the fight out on the Internet, and I think it's just worked out the way it worked out. Kevin March had played shows with Bob before and we all know him, so he seemed to fit right in and he's a really good drummer."
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