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NOW - Toronto
Tim Perlich

Guided by Voices
Gamble On Arena Rock

For someone so close to having his lifelong
dream come true, Guided by Voices
mainspring Robert Pollard doesn't sound
overly excited about finally realizing his
rock-and-roll fantasy in sports arenas.

No longer having his
former GBV bandmates
stumbling by his side to
share in the stadium
experience they
envisioned while still in
high school might've
taken some of the kicks
out of it.

Also, the fact that the
song from their glossy
new Do The Collapse
(TVT/Universal) that may
take them there, the next
single, Hold On Hope, is
the absolute sweetest
ditty Pollard has ever
contrived must leave the
accomplishment feeling
less like triumph on his
own terms.

And wouldn't it be a
devilish twist of fate if
Pollard finally gets his
wish to have his music
heard by millions yet is
forced to play the
feel-good hit each night
forever after while the
flames of disposable
lighters flicker slowly in

"That's happening right
now," screams Pollard in horror from a
roadside stop in Connecticut. "I keep wanting
to say, 'Come on, enough already,' but I think
people are doing it sincerely."

While it is his song and it was his idea to
bring in Cars maestro Ric Ocasek for the
full-on ROCK production, Pollard can't be
blamed entirely for the appearance of Hold
On Hope on the Do The Collapse album. If it
was up to Pollard, notorious for his
self-destructive tendencies, Hold On Hope
would exist only on a crumpled piece of
notepaper under his bed.

Sappy Turn

"I actually dreamt that chorus and wrote it
down when I woke up. When I sent it off to
Ric, I apologized for writing something so
corny, but he said, 'This is the monster hit.'
Personally, I felt it was a bit too sappy -- but

"The same thing happened with Teenage
F.B.I. We did it and I started saying, 'This is
so goofy, let's just shit-can it.' Then Ric's wife
Paulina (supermodel Paulina Porizkova) heard
it and said, 'That's a big hit, too.' So it's on.

"If I tossed 'em, the album probably would've
suffered for it. I'm always second-guessing
myself. I can't help it -- that's just the way I

Not only did Ocasek help Pollard avoid
making some potentially damaging choices
during the final song-selection process, but
judging from the prominent keyboard squelch
of Teenage F.B.I., Ocasek also spruced up the
arrangements and helped GBV attain the
sonic clarity their previous recordings sorely

"I'm tired of the lo-fi shit. If I do any of that
now, it's just to get things down quickly. I'm
impatient and I need to get the songs out."

There are bound to be some old-school GBV
fanatics who object to the departure from the
homemade quaintness of the group's
four-track past, but Pollard isn't going to
apologize for the refinements in the GBV
sound -- nor should he.

Anyone troubled by the lack of hiss and
conspicuous absence of verse fragments in
search of a chorus can still hear Pollard's lo-fi
song sketches issued under his own name
and flashier handles like Lexo and the Leapers
or Nightwalker, with the Fading Captain
series of discs.

Number four in the series, Speak Kindly Of
Your Fire Department, featuring the music of
Doug Gillard and the singing of Pollard, is
scheduled for an October 31 release.

Productive Flow

"The people at TVT were very understanding
and cooperative during contract negotiations
when I explained my need to work outside the
regular release schedule.

"It's important for my health and well-being
that I keep creatively active, but I can't just
stockpile songs -- I have to be working
toward an album. So I'm busy working on
more solo projects in the Fading Captain

Despite the impressive legal wrangling to
give Pollard the unusual freedom to release
solo recordings independently (TVT retains a
first-refusal option), some people still
consider the steps taken to clean up the GBV
sound on Do The Collapse a sellout move
and aren't afraid to confront Pollard about it.

"When I walked off the stage last night," he
sighs, "some guy yelled 'Rock star!' I was,
like, 'Hey, man, do I look like a fuckin' rock
star to you?'

"We're not doing anything now that we
haven't done before. I mean, we've been
posturing and posing for years, but it's
tongue-in-cheek. The only thing that's
changed is the fidelity."

NOW SEPTEMBER 23-29, 1999