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Mean Magazine
July 2001 
By Craig Michael Gurwich

In Bob We Trust. Praise be to Bob. We Love Bob. These are just some of the slogans die hard fans of Robert Pollard, the voice and mind behind Ohioís Guided By Voices, have come up with. Even though he doesnít have any #1 hits or hold the record for the most songs ever recorded (that honor goes to Miss Lata Mangeshker, of India, with about 25,000), for rock fans in the know Bob is God; or more precisely, God is Bob. Maybe itís because heís crafted countless pop/rock gems, is more prolific than anybody in recent memory, and now at age 43, is living proof that rockiní out doesnít have to get ugly (literally) and embarrassing with age. Uncle Bob and crew have again provided salvation for his fans from the dreariness of the Billboard hit-list, with Isolation Drills (TVT). I spoke with Bob, and we talked, no, we bonded, over the two subjects dearest to our hearts: music and beer. Iíve always wanted an Uncle Bob, and now I have one. Long live Uncle Bob.


Guided By Voices has gone through a bunch of lineup changes throughout its existence, with you as the only original and constant member. Does that mean that Robert Pollard is Guided By Voices? Is there legal documentation which states that?


Yes. When we signed with Matador we sat down with Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi (Matador heads) to work out the terms. I wanted to put in a contract that Robert Pollard is Guided By Voices because I didnít want to be contractually bound to anyone, and they didnít want to do that. Greg Demos, who used to be in the band, is a lawyer and told them that Guided By Voices is Robert Pollard and that the contract should reflect that, and Greg was in the band! I mean, I write all the songs, have all of the imagery and concepts; itís my creation.

Your latest creation is called Isolation Drills. Do you feel isolated by the fact that youíre 43 and play a genre of music, largely populated by bands just over half your age?

 
I feel that Guided By Voices swims in a sea of its own. There are bands that create this wave of copy bands like Nirvana, Pavement, and I think us. People want to sound like us, but just canít, and a lot of that has to do with me being 43 and having been through all the different phases of rock. The bands that like us and are influenced by us donít have the experience with the music I have. I mean, started listening to music when the Beatles came over.

Jon McCann, your new drummer, is a Canuck. Do you think the Canadian can keep up with the bandís drinking pace? Did you have to put any Canadian beer, like Molson Ice Lite Export, on the rider?


(laughs)No, he drinks what we drink, Jonís a really level≠headed, smart guy, and he drinks with us, but if he drank like Nate, Tim, or I, itíd be hard for him to hold it together. I think heís glad that we switched from Bud Light to Miller Lite, though. Miller Liteís the most watered down beer there is, and since we drink a lot of beer itís better. We can drink more of it.


Have you ever thought about drinking a more full-bodied beer, like Guinness? You could drink less.


We donít worry about that full-body shit! Can you see me downing Guinness the way I down Miller Lite?

Well Iíve never seen you down Miller Lite, only Bud Light. You just recently switched remember? Your early albums have a lot of songs on them: Mag Earwhig has 21, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars with 24, and Alien Lanes has 28. The last two, Do the Collapse and Isolation Drills, only have 16 each. Are you running out of steam?


Iím not running out of steam at all. I have four or five albums coming out this gear, so itís full steam ahead. I do the Fading Captain series (solo project), I have an album coming out under the band name Airport Five that I did with Tobin Sprout, and thereís Isolation Drills. Also, my songs are longer and more developed than they used to be. I want every album I do to be a double album with 25 songs, but my label doesnít want to do that, so I have my side projects as well as Guided By Voices to keep me occupied. Iím always writing songs.


Most bands put their definitive collections in decorative cardboard boxes, lunch pails with their logos on it, etc., but I was thinking that when Guided by Voices comes out with one, it should come in a 500-disc changer carrying case. That would probably fit all of your albums, singles, EPís, jingles, live shows, bootlegs, re-mixes, demos, covers, b≠sides, etc. Do you own all of your releases?


My Guided By Voices section, which is everything that I know of, is bigger then most peopleís record collections. I
have bootlegs, compilations, singles; all kinds of shit. Vinyl too. Weíve put out probably 30 or 40 vinyl LPs, and then thereís another 30 or 40 seven-inches. I even try to keep every Guided By Voices poster I can find.


Sounds like youíre pretty well-informed about your own out≠put. Letís see how much you really know. Iíll name a Guided By Voices song, and you tell me what record itís on. Ready?


Iím ready, but speak loudly. Iím having reception problems with the phone.


Sure you are! OK, number one, ďFine to See You!í


Thatís on Isolation Drills.


I started you off with an easy one. Itís Ďcause I like you. ďCocksoldiers and Their Postwar Stubble!í


That oneís on Breakfast whatever itís called...um...Sunfish Holy Breakfast.


Yep. ďPimple Zoo!í


Alien Lanes.


ďExit Flagger!í


Thatís on Bee Thousand. No, wait! Itís on Propeller.


Man, youíre good! Last one. ďDusty Bushwormsí

 
Get Out of My Stations.


Oh, is that what itís on?

 
Yeah. Itís a Siltbreeze EP.


Thatís not the answer I was looking for, Bob. Itís on Tard and Furtheríd.

 
Well thatís the Siltbreeze compilation. It was originally on Get Out of My Stations.

 
I didnít know that.


Ha! I stumped the quizmaster!

 

You know your shit.

 
These are my babies, man! This game is fun, nobodyís ever done anything like this with me. Iím gonna do this with my band, maybe as a written test.

 
Yeah, and since theyíre not on the contract you can fire Ďem if their knowledge of Guided By Voices trivia doesnít satisfy you. Drop Ďem and move on, like you did with Bud Light! You better make it easy for the Canadian, though.


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