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Ottawa Sun  
Thursday September 28 2000 
By Ian Nathanson

Thanks to Sean Palmerston

Brewing up a party

It's an idea Bob Pollard has been toying with for some time -- a book 
devoted entirely to rock band names.

"You know how you can get these books for baby names if you can't think of 
what to call your newborn?" says the frontman for lo-fi alt-rockers Guided 
By Voices over the phone from the band's Dayton, Ohio, base. "I was serious 
about doing a book of nothing but band names. But then I thought, 'Damn, 
this is gonna take too long.'

"I only had about 1,000 of them and I was going to have to come up with 
about 7,000 names."


Some of Pollard's wacky choices -- Groovy Lucifer, Approval of Mice, 1st 
Joint, Fake Organisms and Urinary Track Stars -- can be found on Suitcase: 
Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft, a four-CD box-set of 100 unreleased 
gems available by mail order only (go to www.gbv.com for details).

"I love to write songs -- and I write a lot of them," the prolific Pollard 
says. "And you've got to put them on records. What else are you going to do 
with them? Sit there and play them on the porch?

Even though GBV, who make their Ottawa debut tomorrow night at Barrymore's, 
aren't quite the household name in mainstream alt-rock
circles, why the cloak of secrecy?

'Just having fun'

"Guided By Voices has always been about confusion, I just want to screw 
everybody's heads up," says Pollard, a former fourth-grade school teacher. 
"But seriously, it's just us having fun."

There's an element of truth to the confusion. The 40-ish Pollard remains the 
sole member and arguably the mind, heart, and soul of GBV since forming in 
1986. Despite more than 40 musicians wandering through at one time or 
another (eclipsing Spinal Tap's mythical 37), all have shared in Pollard's 
vision of creating melodic lo-fi mini-epics.

In 1993, GBV's Vampire on Titus album grabbed the attention and peer support 
from the likes of The Breeders, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and the 
Beastie Boys. Signing to New York's Matador Records label a year later, GBV 
pricked up mainstream critics' ears with 1994's Bee Thousand and '95's Alien 
Lanes before inking a deal with the Universal-distributed TVT Records last 

Though GBV have technically improved their own sound with 1999's Do The 
Collapse, produced by former Cars leader Ric Ocasek, Pollard doesn't mind if 
he, guitarists Doug Gillard and Nate Farley, bassist Tim Tobias and newly 
recruited drummer (and Torontonian) Jon McCann draw comparisons to 
The Who, The Beatles and Wire.

"Those are three of the best bands of all-time," Pollard says. "We get 
comparisons like that all the time. But if you're gonna sound like somebody, 
you might as well sound like the best ones.

"But we've been also compared to the Grateful Dead, for different reasons. 
The Dead had its hardcore following of fans that do acid. We have this 
hardcore following of fans that drink."

Over the years Pollard, who cites Budweiser as his barley-and-hops brand of 
choice, has earned a reputation for his on-stage antics, mostly inspired 
drunken banter which has garnered the band low-brow nicknames such as Guided 
By Beer.

Mind you, the band plays up to the rep -- a mock headline on their website 
reads, "The Robert Pollard All Beer Diet" -- and have their
own group of Deadhead-like devotees, Postal Blowfish.

"We open up our shows as one big party," Pollard says. "The bars love us, 
because you can't watch a band that drinks like we do and not want