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NOW Weekly - Toronto CA
APR 18 - 24, 2001 | VOL. 20 NO. 33
By Tim Perlich
Guided by Vices
Bob Pollard on the benefits of beer
By Tim Perlich
If there's one thing Robert Pollard dislikes more than frilly keyboard
fills, it's sobriety. Contending with both during the recording of Guided by
Voices' Do The Collapse (TVT) album with producer Ric Ocasek, in a
last-ditch chart bid, left Pollard scared hitless.
With GBV's latest, Isolation Drills (TVT), the pissed-off Pollard intends to
show Ocasek, and every other pencil-necked twerp who ever berated them for
boozing, the awesome power of positive drinking.
He believes he performs better after hoisting a few, and the boisterously
brilliant new disc makes a very good argument.
The guitars roar like never before, and mercilessly catchy Glad Girls could
well be the elusive smash hit they so desperately crave.
Paradoxically enough, it's one of the most coherent collections of tunes
they've ever squeezed onto one disc.
"What happened on Do The Collapse was really my fault for putting the whole
project into the hands of Ric Ocasek," admits Pollard from his Dayton
hacienda. "I figured he knew more than I did so whatever.
"Ric's a good guy. He just had this policy about remaining sober while
recording. I disagree with that. Drinking helps me do what I do. When I'm
not drinking, I'm too aware of everything going on around me and I can't
lock into the song and just do what comes naturally.
"We just did a show in Jacksonville where there wasn't any time to drink
before going on. We hit the stage sober and I immediately screwed up the
first three or four songs. I was thinking too much about the lyrics instead
of just singing them."
Pollard is convinced of the benefits of his binges, yet he does have an
optimum level of intoxication where he's at his wobbly best. Once past it,
there's a quick descent into stumbling, bumbling chaos.
"Yeah, we can go too far. I usually drink for a couple of hours before a gig
and then continue during the show, which lasts about three hours. Believe
me, five hours of steady drinking can kick your ass. I try my best to gauge
it so I can make it all the way through, but sometimes I know things fall
"This one guy at a paper here in Dayton just crucified me for it. He wrote a
big editorial about how I had one foot in the grave, and drew comparisons to
Jimi Hendrix and Mama Cass. C'mon, man, I'm drinking Miller Light. I'd be
doing the same thing if I were on a bowling team.
"People have made so much of our drinking that we've decided to start
playing it up a bit more. It's become our religion now, and we've adopted
the beer bottle as our sacred symbol. Everyone who comes to see us can join
in the worship at the show."