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Sounds from The Monument Club
Dayton Voice - January 1999
By Don Thrasher
Guided By Voices leader Robert Pollard gathers with friends to listen to his newest solo album Kid Marine
The Monument Club. Sunday, Jan. 17, 6 p.m.
Outside, the remnants of the great snow-storm of '99 is slowly fading to slush. A crowd of about 20 men - spanning in age from mid-20s to late 40s - are packed inside the one-car-garage-cum-bar in the back yard of Robert Pollard's Northridge home. The air is thick with cigarette smoke, laughter and the buzz of numerous simultaneous conversations.
On the big screen TV, the Denver Broncos are slowly breaking away from the New York Jets in NFL playoff action. Soon, the talking stops and attention is turned to the sound wafting from the speakers. It's "Submarine Team" the opening cut on Kid Marine (Rockathon/recordhead), Pollard's soon--to-be-released solo L.P.
"I think this is my favorite one since Same Place The Fly Got Smashed", the Guided By Voices leader says enthusiastically over the music. The song is another slice of anthmetic, art-damaged rock that Pollard perfected over the last decade and a half through hundreds of songs spread out over 15 LPs, numerous EPs and countless compilations.
"Lyrically", he says, "I think these are some of the best songs I've done. I was going to do a poetry book, so I sat down and wrote a hundred poems."
"Then I thought 'a poetry book, what a pretentious idea!' So, I picked my 15 favorite ones and wrote music for them."
"I like Kid Marine because it is a little weirder and experimental than the last couple of Guided By Voices records. It;s more like Devil Between My Toes and Vampire On Titus. I like those kind of records," Pollard says.
Kid Marine, the former school teacher's second solo album in less than a year, is a return of sorts, to GBV's more lo-fi approach to recording. Though no 4-track recorders were used in the making of the album, it does have the immediacy of a home recording.
"We banged this record out in less than seven days," says Pollard, who has a reputation for working quickly and capturing songs in one take. "To do an album in one week is a good thing".
The bulk of the material was recorded at Cro-Magnon Studio in December by Pollard and John Shough, with help from current GBVers Jim Macpherson (drums) and Greg Demos (bass).
"I really like working at Cro-Mag", Pollard says. "I've worked with John for a while and he knows what to expect. He lets me do what I want. Plus, the studio is right here in town, which is nice. You can get up in the morning, have coffee, then drive to the studio to make a record."
This is in stark contrast to the un-GBV-like approach Pollard took for the still unreleased follow up to '97's Mag Earwhig (Matador). The band did the previously untinkable and demoed the songs on two occasions - at Gas, Daddy, Go! Studio and Cro-Magnon - before going to New York to record with Ric Ocasek at Electric Ladyland Studios.
The results were worth the wait and extra work. Many who have heard the unreleased project think it could be the record to actually boost the band above cult status. Not that topping the charts is at the top of Pollard's list of goals. As always, he is happy to make records for himself and the legion of like-minded fans who follow his every move.
Ocasek is obviously a GBV fan and was careful not to over-work the material. The entire LP is more muscular and polished than previous outings, but it's still a far cry from the ultr-glossy radio production of Alanis and Matchbox 20.
However, the LP currently sits in limbo while contract logistics are hammered out. It remains to be seen if Matador, GBV's home since 1994's Alien Lanes, will release the record or if another label will pick it up. Rather than bide his time and fret over the album's release, Pollard took advantage of his staus as a free agent-of-sorts and did what he does best: made a record.
Depsite the rumors and uncertanty over the next ful-band release, Guided By Voices is still very much alive and kicking. The group - Pollard (vocals), Doug Gillard (guitar), Greg Demos (bass), Jim Macpherson (drums) and Nate Farley (guitar) - recently performed in Los Angeles and Hoboken, N.J.
If fan postings on GBV's Postal Blowfish web site are to be belived, both performances were full of high energy rock and moments of inspired drunken splendor.
Many locals will get their first look at the latest GBV lineup this weekend when the quintet shares a bill with the Mulchmen at Gilly's. This will be the first Guided By Voices show in Dayton since August 1997, where Pollard and Co. performaed at a benefit concert for Tim Taylor, the late leader of Braniac.