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Toronto Eye
Stuart Berman

Thanks to Sean the lurker for transcribing

Hi-fidelity All Stars

Guided by Voices are amplified to rock


with the American Flag. Friday, Sept. 24. Opera House, 735 Queen E.
All ages. $16 at Ticketmaster, Rotate This, Sonic Temple.

Robert Pollard, former grade school teacher and current Professor of
Pop, just how do you do it?

Mind you, I seek no explanation for your savant-like ability to cram
your golden age of rock (Beatles '67 to Wire '79) into perfect
90-second song snippets with the regularity of bowel movements.
Anyone who's seen a Guided by Voices show can attest that your
true talent is how, at the age of 41, you can down six cases of
Budweiser, spend three hours jumping like Jagger and doing
Daltrey-esque mic twirls and still drive the kids to school the next
morning. While you and I have both, as you say, "tied one on" the
night prior to our 11am conversation, you've been up since 8:30
overseeing driveway repairs at your Dayton, Ohio, home while I'm seeking
salvation from porcelain deities. Could you spare some hangover advice, please, old wise one?

"Just keep sleeping until it's gone," he imparts, making it sound as easy as, oh,
writing a perfect pop song. "If you get up, you feel like shit. If you practice long enough, you
don't get hangovers any more. So keep it up! Persevere! But it's kind of tough if you have a job that
requires you getting up, isn't it?"

Hardly a rock star taunting us commoners, Pollard speaks
from the many rough mornings he endured as an employee in the Dayton elementary
school system. But instead of 10-year-olds, for the past six years Pollard has
been standing in front of collegiate parishioners who worship him as the
godfather of lo-fi indie-pop, after defining the genre with the fantastical
trilogy of Vampire on Titus (1993), Bee Thousand (1994) and Alien Lanes (1995).

However, Pollard's headspace has since become less
occupied with wizards and elves and more with lawyers and contracts. Hoping to
take advantage of the distribution deal between Matador (his home since '94) and
Capitol, Pollard took GbV -- a revolving cast of drinking buddies that now
includes former Breeders drummer Jim McPherson and ex-Cobra Verde guitarist Doug
Gillard -- to New York's Electric Ladyland studios last September to record Do
the Collapse with producer Ric Ocasek.

But when Capitol severed ties with Matador, Pollard had to
weigh indie cred versus shifting units. He chose the latter, and by the time the
paperwork for his new contract with TVT Records was sorted, it had been over two
years since 1997's Mag Earwhig! -- eons for the ultra-prolific Pollard. With his
own micro-indie label (Rockathon) at his disposal, you'd figure at some point
Pollard would've just said, "Fuck it," and taken GbV back to the garage.

"I did say, 'Fuck it,' " he replies. "I told my manager,
'I quit, I'm going to record for my own label and just put three or four records
out a year.' Matador had asked me, 'Quit doing so much, because it dilutes the
Guided by Voices thing.' But I need to be constantly working. So we got it in
the TVT contract that I could do anything on my label, because I was going insane
with how long it was taking to put this record out."

If only insanity could be this productive for the rest of
us: on top of four solo projects (the "Fading Captain Series," Lexo and the
Leapers, Nightwalker and an upcoming record with Gillard), Pollard is prepping
Rockathon releases for the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments,
Vancouver prog-gods Superconductor and local power-pop freaks the American Flag
(whom they befriended after the infamous Urge Overkill Phoenix show in '95, when
Pollard got his arse kicked by bouncers).

But Do the Collapse is still Priority No. 1, though
despite Ocasek's radio-ready production, it doesn't really expand upon Pollard's
inaugural adventures in hi-fi on Mag Earwhig! And while he eagerly outlines the
promotional plan for the album (the next single, "Hold on Hope," could be GbV's
"Wonderwall") he knows Do the Collapse isn't quite the super-rock masterpiece
he's long threatened to unleash.

"I'm always cynical," Pollard says. "The next one will be
better, more adventurous. Now that I've crossed over that threshold into the
realm of hi-fi, I'll be more comfortable. I'm used to doing an album a week, but
now I'm into things like pre-production and arrangements.

"I also think I'm maturing as a songwriter. I've gone from
acting like I was 12 to acting like I'm 15. I sit around with my friends and
drink, and if they say something funny, I'll write it down. I don't know if
that's maturity or what. A lot of songs just come out of boredom. If you notice,
I write a lot of drinking songs now."