Guided By Robert Pollard
Guided By Voices
"Do The Collapse" Press Kit Universal Records, Canada


Guided By Voices: Do The Collapse

Guided By Voices has--heretofore--been the sort of band that's more talked and written about than actually heard. Indie rock legends since their emergence from obscurity (into semi-obscurity) in 1994 with the release of their universally- adored Bee Thousand LP, the Dayton, OH-based outfit has garnered more general media hosannas--including 4-star Rolling Stone lead reviews and A+ Entertainment Weekly accolades--than any sub-100,000 selling rock group.

They possess superhuman melodic gifts, unmatched command of the rock vocabulary, a senses-stunning live show, and, in songwriter, vocalist, and retired fourth-grade teacher Robert Pollard, probably the best rock singer extant. What's mostly kept mainstream ears from tuning to the wonders of rock's best kept secret is the bugbear of recording quality. Though the group pretty much ditched the 4-track after '95's Alien Lanes, ensuing efforts have still refused to play nice, production-wise, with the commercial alternative likes of Matchbox 20 or Eve 6. Branded with the mostly misleading "Io-fi" label early on, GBV's since had to battle a perception-reality gap that's in any case never been entirely untrue. Until now.

Do The Collapse ("I've wanted to call the last five albums Do the Collapse, but now it finally makes sense, at the end of the millennium," explains Pollard), the eleventh Guided by Voices album (not including solo records, bootlegs, EPs, comps, and a blizzard of 7" singles), is a major-Ieague play, fulfilling band leader Pollard's oft-stated dream of recording an album as "Big Rock" as Who's Next or Cheap Trick's debut. Produced in full radio-friendly splendor by ex-Car-turned- big-time-producer Ric Ocasek ("He calls me Bob and I call him Ric," deadpans Pollard), Pollard responded to the challenge of hi-fi by penning some of his strongest material yet. "Hold On Hope" is a monster radio ballad for the new millennium, and it's by no means the only potential hit nestled in Do The Collapse's digital code. Please see also: "Teenage FBI," a chugging slice of synth-adorned power pop, "Surgical Focus," featuring an indelible guitar hook courtesy of GBV's ace axe-man Doug Gillard, and "Things I Will Keep," a sweetly melancholic plea for permanence that'll break your heart, if you've got one.

Point of fact, there ain't a clunker in the bunch, and even the more complex stuff is rife with moments of awe-inspiring melodic inspiration. All are marked by Pollard's inimitable lyric genius, a mixture of stream-of-consciousness word play and emotion-Iaden phrase-mongering, that, however oblique, rarely fails to evoke a passionate response in the listener.

"Do The Collapse focuses more on the big arena rock side of the Guided By Voices Jekyll-and-Hyde persona," says Pollard. "For the first time, we took a deliberate, disciplined approach to recording. But I think we still retained some of the darker, weirder elements from our earlier records." Factor in the newly solidified Guided By Voices line-up, featuring the aforementioned Gillard, drummer Jim MacPherson--Iate of the Breeders, and one of the most dynamic sticksman around--and guitarist/bassist Greg Demos, likewise an ex- Amp/Breeder, and you may be quick marched to the conclusion that the World's Greatest Band just got a little Greater.

The Guided by Voices story begins nearly fifteen years ago, in a suburb of post- industrial Midwest archetype Dayton, OH, called Northridge. Bandleader Robert Pollard, a 4th grade teacher at Dayton Public Schools (and who had also been a high school quarterback and the first man in the history of Wright State University to throw a no-hitter) gathers a revolving band of cronies--including his brother Jim (who still holds the single-season scoring record in Ohio high school basketball) into the first GBV incarnation. Together with shop teacher/"manager- for-Iife" Pete Jamison, they took a loan from the Dayton Public School's credit union to release their first home-recorded album on their own label. Many copies were "released" against a brick wall one night in a drunken fit of post-punk nihilism; subsequent albums (Devil Between My Toes, '87; Sandbox, '87; Self- Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, '89; Same Place The Fly Got Smashed, '90; and Propeller, '92) mostly languished in moldy boxes in Pollard's basement, where he also stores his massive record collection, in a makeshift nook dubbed the Snakepit. Around '92, Cleveland-based Scat Records got hold of a copy of Propeller and flipped, signing the band immediately and helping drag Guided by Voices blinking into the 40-watt glare of underground press notoriety. Scat also re-released the hard-to-find earlier LPs in a box set called, appropriately, Box, in 1995.

At that point (circa '93) the band had not played a live show in five or six years, preferring to huddle around the 4-track with a case of Bud Light, but an incendiary July '93 showcase at the New Music Seminar by a hastily-assembled line-up, attended by tastemakers like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Mike D. of the Beastie Boys, won GBV a rep for unmatchably intense, beer-assisted live performing that has only grown over the ensuing years. The band released two records on Scat, '93's Vampire on Titus (named after the Northridge street where Pollard lives) and the benchmark Bee Thousand, which brought GBV their first real taste of mainstream press recognition.

Jumping to powerhouse indie label Matador in '94, the band then released three albums--Alien Lanes, '94; Under the Bushes Under the Stars, '96; and Mag Earwhig!, '97--further consolidating their reputation as indie rock avatars, while continuing the hoary Guided by Voices traditions of endlessly shifting band lineups and prodigious alcohol consumption. Second-stage Lollapalooza appearances, US and European tours, MTV coverage, a band documentary (Watch Me Jumpstart, directed by Banks Tarver, highly recommended) and a steady stream of accolades from critics and peers followed and continues.

Which brings us to the present. Pollard (previously busy raising two kids, coaching Little League and being a force to reckon with in the Dayton high school school sports scene) and Guided By Voices will support their most ambitious album to date with their most ambitious touring and promotional efforts, bringing the power and glory of live GBV to places most of the band can't even pronounce. The world can only benefit from exposure to the life-changing qualities of Guided by Voices' heaven-sent rock. That includes you, pal.