Since Guided by Voices re-constituted itself in 2010 with their “classic” lineup of the mid-1990s, they have released six albums in four years, including two this year alone.
“Motivational Jumpsuit” was released in February, and “Cool Planet” was released just this week, and now these Dayton natives and international indie-rock deities are opening a fresh tour at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati this weekend.
“I think it’s very solid and cohesive,” Robert Pollard, GBV’s main creative force, said of “Cool Planet.” “Probably more so than any of the other records we’ve done since we’ve reunited. It’s thicker and more explosive. I really like Toby’s (Sprout) songs. We recorded all of my songs at Cyberteknics in Dayton, which we’ve recently discovered although it’s been here for 50 years. I didn’t know it would sound so good or I would’ve been recording there for the last 20 years.”
Local fans may be dismayed to learn that the tour does not include a Dayton stop. Pollard attributed this to a disagreement with the venue.
“We were extremely fair in our asking price, comparatively with that we’re getting all over the country,” he said. “What we wanted was not even close to being in the same ballpark, and the guy came back with ‘Will you take less?’ It was embarrassing and utterly disrespectful to a hometown band with our track record and level of respectability, internationally.”
Although GBV’s musical chops have never been in doubt, it has been a long, up-and-down road commercially since they released their first album in 1982. Much of the flavor of the newer albums is reminiscent of their work in the mid-1990s, which was when the rest of the country started waking up to what some Dayton music fans had known.
Although Pollard doesn’t chart his musical progression in the usual manner (he writes too many songs too quickly), he can identify GBV’s major-label period (1999-2001) as one he definitely does not miss, despite the popularity of the songs written during that time.
“When we were with TVT, we presented them with the finished product of (2001’s) ‘Isolation Drills,’ ” he said. “And they were like, ‘That’s not it, baby, where are the hits? Think summertime, cars, girls … ,’ and I’m thinking, ‘We’re 40 years old!’ I don’t like being under that kind of pressure, and I’m never nostalgic for those kind of songs later in life.”
Pollard said he measures his artistic growth only by a desire to improve and challenge himself. He has lately adopted a creative procedure called the “multi-hook process,” which begins with him jotting down lines he overhears on TV or in bars.
“A friend told me his grandson was playing baseball and was not very good,” he said. “I asked him, ‘What level of competition is it?’ and he said “The littlest league possible” (the opening track on ‘Motivational Jumpsuit’). There you have it.”
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