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Time Out New York
By Jay Ruttenberg

Single File

Guided By Voices' Robert Pollard mouths off on a pile of new releases

Alice Cooper: Generation Landslide (Rhino)

Robert Pollard: (instantly) Oh I have this! It's Alice Cooper, isn't it? I love this song. I love Alice Cooper - the band, not his solo stuff. I liked that they sounded like the Beatles. They were ugly, they rocked and they wrote really good songs - and this song is awesome. This is what music is supposed to sound like, right there.

Rod Stewart: Human (Atlantic)

RP: I can't stand electric piano. I love the guy's voice - he sounds a little bit like Spoon. I don't like the bridge. I like the verse. Kind of Billy Joel - style structure right there. I like how the chorus came in right away and didn't wait for another verse. It sounds like Rod Stewart a little bit.

Time Out New York: Good guess

RP: All right, Rod! I like Rod Stewart, at least his "Maggie May" period. Just for sticking around for so long and still looking good. Rod gets a thumbs up. But man, Spoon is gonna be mad. We're touring with them, and I said Rod sounded like Spoon!

Frank Black and the Catholics: Llano Del Rio (What Are Records?)

RP: There's a lot of mixed genres in this song, and I'm more into straightforward rock. It's pretty bad. Who is it?

TONY: Frank Black.

RP: No! Is that Frank Black? He's lost his mind! He has! I would have never guessed that. Actually, I haven't liked his stuff since the Pixies, and I loved the Pixies. It has nothing to do with my friendship with Kim Deal, either. I met a few of the (other) Pixies, and they weren't very nice people. Sometimes even when you're a fan of someone, if you meet them and they aren't very nice, it turns you off to their music. But, I can listen to the Pixies 'cause they're so good. Even the cover (of this album) sucks. They've all got sunglasses on.

TONY: Well, they're in Los Angeles.

RP: Oh, is that it? It's hard to be good when you're from LA. It's too happy there: What are going to write about? He needs to hang it up.

TONY: Unlike Rod?

RP: Rod can keep going. He's got some class.

A*Teens: Bouncing Off the Ceiling (MCA)

RP: I liked bubblegum as a kid, but I'm not into this. I've kind of become what my dad was when he used to make fun of the music I listened to. My daughter's 16 and she would dig this.

TONY: From a songwriting perspective, do you think the bubblegum songs from the '60s were better than the ones today?

RP: I believe that the best songs were written in the '60s. It doesn't seem like songwriters are trying anymore. Do songwriters write for boy bands? Do you think there's a future for me?

TONY: You could get a good gig. Would you do that?

RP: No! Actually, I want to write the Krispy Kreme doughnut theme. I'm trying to get our publishing company to look in to that. They wanted us to write the Budweiser theme. I don't want to write the Budweiser theme! I'll drink Budweiser, but I want to write the Krispy Kreme doughnuts theme. And the A*Teens can do it!

Alex Chilton: I Wanna Pick You Up (Marina)

RP: This is really nice but I can't guess who it is.

TONY: It's Alex Chilton singing a Brian Wilson song.

RP: No way! I love Alex Chilton, and knowing that makes this even better.

TONY: Musically, you're probably closer to Chilton than to Wilson.

RP: Dayton (Ohio, Pollard's hometown) is a lot like Memphis, so we have similar backgrounds. I'm influenced musically by both of them, though not lyrically. Lyrically, I'm in to stranger stuff.

David Byrne: Like Humans Do (Luka Bop/Virgin)

RP: Who is this?

TONY: David Byrne.

RP: He's a weird guy. He seems to be authentically weird - he's not trying. But his music needs to match his personality a ;little better.

TONY: I'm assuming you were a bigger Cars fan than the Talking Heads?

RP: yeah, the Cars were more serious. I used to be offended that people like the Talking Heads better than Devo, 'cause in my mind they weren't even close to Devo.

TONY: Devo's from Ohio.

RP: Hey, we take pride in our Devo. now they're writing music for children's television shows - Devo knows it's all about the kids.

Guided By Voices plays Irving Plaza Thu 3 and Fri 4