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Guitar World - May 2001
By "Big Willie" MacPherson
Power Pop To The People
"I used to play guitar live when the band started out, but I was pretty terrible and made mistakes all the time," says Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard. "So as soon as people started asking to be in the band, I gave it up. It was much better that way because then I was able to jump around and shit."
Although he no longer straps one on for the band's incendiary live performances, Pollard, who cites the Who's Pete Townshend and Yes' Steve Howe as his favorites players, did anything but abandon the guitar. In fact, in the nearly two decades since he started Guided By Voices as a weekends-only rock and roll social club, he has written more than a thousand British Invasion-tinged guitar-pop anthems - including the 16 heart-tugging rockers that comprise the band's latest outing, Isolation Drills (TVT) - on his trusty Harmony Rocket. "I've had that piece of shit from the beginning", says Pollard. "When I'm home in Ohio, it's never more than five feet away from me, 'cause I never know when I'll need it."
These days Pollard delegates Guided By Voices' ax-related affairs to rhythm guitarist Nate Farley and lead guitarist Doug Gillard, whom the singer calls "one of the best players I've ever heard. He's good enough to go to any shitty blues jam on the planet and blow everybody away. But he doesn't need to prove it."
"I see myself as colorist more than 'lead guitarist' in the traditional sense of the word," Gillard concurs. "I'm there to serve the songs, not to noodle them into submission."