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Ottawa Express - July 2001
By Shelly Devoto


"I think we do it for the right reasons," Robert Pollard observes. "We do it
because we love to make music there's no ulterior motive. We didn't form a
band to get girls; although, that's a good thing too."

What Pollard and his band, Guided By Voices, do, essentially, is to restore
people's faith in rock and roll. Last year, they played what was by far the
best show of the year in Capital City. Tuesday, July 17, the ultra-prolific
band is returning to the scene of the party, Barrymore's Music Hall.

The show, which comes on the heels of the release of the band's latest
album, Isolation Drills, promises to be every bit as rockin' as last year's
gig, if a tad less filling in a move that no doubt caused reverberations at
the offices of Budweiser, the hard-drinking band's drink of choice was
recently changed to Miller Lite.

"It can be rough, because we're a party band. When we play a show we play
for two and a half hours and we drink the whole time," Pollard admits. "I'm
getting older and I want to be able to drink without killing myself; Miller
Lite's the lightest beer there is... It's almost water."

Greater sustenance can be obtained through the songs of Pollard, who has an
admirable reputation as a man capable of churning out several albums' worth
of songs -; as part of a variety of combos -; each year. Pollard claims GbV
has recorded over 500 songs (60 or so are in rotation at live shows); yet,
the remarkable thing about Pollard the songwriting machine is the quality,
as much as the quantity of his work. Significantly, his body of work has won
plaudits from such esteemed colleagues as Thom Yorke, Ray Davies and U2's
The Edge.

"We didn't even come out of the basement for a long time; we had to be
discovered," Pollard notes. "I think people appreciate that ethic in a band,
especially a band that had been around for so long without anyone knowing
about it. We're kind of a band's band, and I think that's a good place to

A band's band. To that end, Pollard concedes, "it seems like we've got a
certain fanbase and that's what it's gonna be. We sell about the same amount
of records every time, so I'm kinda tired of beatin' my head against the
wall and I would like to get back to being a little bit more experimental,

The band's most recent efforts, Do the Collapse and Isolation Drills, have
contained what Pollard describes as "songs that I thought should have had
some commercial success," but mainstream airplay continues to elude the
world's best pop group. So why isn't "Glad Girls" from Isolation Drills
saturating the airwaves like it should? Pollard has a theory: "I just
thought, well, maybe we don't have commercial success because maybe our
music's too good to be swallowed by the masses. Maybe if everybody can dig
it, it's not so good."

Maybe. But SRO Barrymore's crowds can't be wrong. And anyone who declares
The Who's "Baba O'Riley" to be "the greatest rock song of all time" clearly
has a firm grasp on the pop sensibilities.

"You can tell that there are good records in my collection," Pollard says.
"I put in the time; I was a student for many, many years. I diligently dug
out what I thought was good and I wasted a lot of money on bad stuff trying
to find it... I put a lot of money and time and effort into it and it's paid
off. It's inspired me to become a songwriter myself and now I can do it for
a living now I'm part of it. I never thought that would happen, but it
happened. And I'm grateful."