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Kalamazoo Gazette - Friday September 15, 2000
By Elizabeth Clark
Much has come and gone in the terra infirma of rock n' roll since indie
auteur Robert Pollard set off Guided By Voices some 20 years ago.
For one, GBV band members have come and gone. Newest in the fold is
former American Flag-er John McCaan, who signed on with the band last week
and who will take his onstage place behind the drum kit with GBV for the
first time at the Barking Tuna Festival at the State Theatre on Sept. 22.
"He's good-looking," Pollard said in a phone interview from his Dayton,
Ohio home. "We don't want no ugly guys in the band. You want to attract not
only the indie dorks but you've got to attract some girls to your show." He
conceded, though, that "women are drooling over dorks" these days, so his
hiring practice might backfire.
Guided By Voices has undergone so many lineup changes the Village Voice
once commented, "Who knows, you just might be (listed) on the band's "tangled
Still, Pollard's place in the music scene has remained rock-solid, and
this distinction sets him apart from a lot of indie rockers who too often
tend to go gimmicky with tactics like crossing entirely too many genres and
making a musical hodgepodge, putting gongs and other gimmicks on the stage
and screening experimental films behind the band, he said.
In particular, Pollard thinks Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has taken
the perpetual acid-trip ideology entirely too far.
"I hear they're putting out a Christmas album," Pollard said. "I'm not so
crazy about their new big rock thing that they do. Wayne Coyne has been
saying some nasty stuff about us. I think he's said that I'm not progressing,
but he's wrong."
Coyne is in the minority, as far as the band's latest release, 1998's "Do
the Collapse" is concerned. The critics' darling album won an A-plus accolade
from Entertainment Weekly (it did?), plus favorable nods from Rolling Stone,
Spin and even People magazine. The San Francisco Examiner commented that "Do
the Collapse" "proves that Pollard can do better than write the occasional
perfect pop anthem: He can write whole albums full of them."
Pollard said he expects an even more "anthemic, prettier, wall of sound"
quality to Guided By Voices' upcoming album, for which the band will hit the
studio in October. He said he's slinging around "Broadcaster House," a song
title from an old demo, and "Freak Anthem," a snarky nickname he gave
"Stairway to Heaven" while in high school, as tentative titles for the album,
which should be in stores by March.
Pollard said listeners can expect the melodic, poems-put-to-music
approach to music-making to be the driving force behind this, the ninth full
length Guided By Voices release.
"I'm a melody guy," he said. "I just like melody, and rap is anti-melody.
And girl and boy groups, doesn't it make you want to cry? What's wrong with
just straightforward rock"?
Pollard said he hopes to see rock n' roll go full circle, perhaps
courtesy of a New York rocker named Andrew W. Kay.
"He sounds like Cheap Trick or something...a Kid Rock type of guy except
he actually plays rock," Pollard said. "I'd like to see something like that
happen to him. It's hard for (youth) to identify with us. I'm 43, I'm like