Guided By Voices will release August By Cake on April 7th. It is the 100th that Robert Pollard has released since 1986’s Forever Since…Read More
Inspired equally by jangle pop and arty post-punk, Guided by Voices created a series of trebly, hissy indie rock records filled with infectiously brief pop songs that fell somewhere between the British Invasion and prog rock. After recording six self-released albums between 1986 and 1992, the Dayton, Ohio-based band attracted a handful of fans within the American indie rock underground. With the 1994 release of Bee Thousand, the group became an unexpected alternative rock sensation, winning positive reviews throughout the mainstream music press and signing a larger distribution deal with Matador Records. Despite all of the attention, the bandmembers never changed their aesthetic, continuing to record their albums on cheap four-track tape decks and thereby limiting their potential audience, yet that devotion to lo-fi indie rock helped Guided by Voices maintain a sizable cult during the late ’90s.
Schoolteacher Robert Pollard formed Guided by Voices in the early ’80s. Throughout the group’s history, Pollard was at the center, writing the majority of the songs and leading each incarnation of the band. During the ’80s, Pollard was frequently joined by his brother Jim, who continued to write songs for the group even after his departure in the late ’80s. Guided by Voices didn’t become a full-fledged band until guitarist Tobin Sprout and bassist Dan Toohey joined the group in 1985. A year later, the group released an EP, Forever Since Breakfast, on the local indie I Wanna Records. Guided by Voices released their first full-length album, Devil Between My Toes, on their own G Records in 1987; it was followed several months later by Sandbox, which appeared on Halo. Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia was released on Halo in 1989 and Same Place the Fly Got Smashed appeared on Rocket #9 Records in 1990.
During the latter half of the ’80s, Guided by Voices was essentially a hobby. The band rarely performed, and a wide array of musicians appeared on the group’s albums — according to some estimations, nearly 40 musicians passed through the band during its first decade. Nearly all of the Guided by Voices albums before Vampire on Titus were recorded in Steve Wilbur’s eight-track studio in his home garage; Wilbur occasionally played guitar and bass on the records. Guided by Voices added Mitch Mitchell (rhythm guitar) and Kevin Fennell (drums) around the time of Propeller (1992), which was released on Rockathon Records.
Prior to 1993’s Vampire on Titus, all of Guided by Voices’ records were essentially interchangeable musically, and none were widely available. Vampire on Titus was the first album the band released on the Cleveland-based indie label Scat, and the wider distribution meant the record was heard by a larger audience. Soon, the group had won fans like fellow Dayton native Kim Deal (Pixies, Breeders) and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Later in 1993, the band began playing live for the first time in several years, with Greg Demos replacing bassist Toohey. By the spring of 1994, Scat had entered a national distribution deal with Matador Records. Bee Thousand was the first album released under the deal, and it became a surprise word-of-mouth hit, earning positive reviews from mainstream publications like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. Pollard had quit teaching shortly before the spring release of Bee Thousand, and the group toured heavily behind the album, appearing on the second stage at several Lollapalooza dates. By the fall, GBV’s video for “I Am a Scientist” was aired a handful of times on MTV. Demos left the band in late 1994 to study law and was replaced by music journalist Jim Greer.
In the spring of 2004, Pollard startled his fans with the announcement that he would be breaking up Guided by Voices later that year. The band’s supposed final album, Half Smiles of the Decomposed, was released the following August, and the resulting farewell tour concluded with a New Year’s Eve show in Chicago. Even broken up, 2005 was a busy year for GBV. Pollard signed with Chapel Hill’s Merge Records and announced plans for a 2006 solo album. Rock critic and former bandmember Jim Greer authored the book Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll. There was another box set of unreleased material, this one entitled Suitcase 2: American Superdream Wow, and the 1992 album Propeller was reissued. To add to the accumulation of GBV material, a live album, Live from Austin TX, was released in 2007, showcasing a performance recorded in November 2004 for the PBS series Austin City Limits during the band’s farewell tour. In 2010, Pollard and the 1993-1996 lineup of GBV reunited to play a show at the Matador Records 21st anniversary party. They proceeded to tour again, and in 2011 announced they were working on new material. The following year, GBV released their first new album in eight years, Let’s Go Eat the Factory. Making up for lost time, a second new album, Class Clown Spots a UFO, arrived in June the same year, with a third, Bears for Lunch, slated for a November release.
Guided By Voices’ August By Cake is the one hundredth studio album that Robert Pollard has released since 1986’s Forever Since Breakfast. To put…Read More
Former (1997-2005) Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard is rejoining the band. Gillard has been performing and recording with Nada Surf the past 5…Read More
Calgary’s music festival Sled Island continues. After pouring rain all Friday long, Sled-goers were looking to dry out and catch a break from the…Read More
Toronto Urban Roots Fest (TURF) returns to Fort York Garrison Common Historical Site on September 16th-18th. Today the festival announced that Death Cab For…Read More
“Robert Pollard wrote and recorded and played all the instruments on Please Be Honest and when he finished it felt to him like a…Read More
Sled Island Music & Arts Festival has revealed its first wave of 2016 artists. The tenth annual festival sets itself apart from the pack…Read More
It is the 6th anniversary of Brooklyn Rock Lottery on December 12th at Knitting Factory. Rock Lottery’s premise is the same as years past….Read More
Carson Cox and Dave Vassolotti from Merchandise, talk about their favourite albums on ‘Records in my Life.’ Their choices include titles by John Cale,…Read More
Robert Pollard has shared his new single “Up UP And Up” the new single from his forthcoming release Faulty Superheroes. The full-length is due…Read More
In an in an unsurprising move, Robert Pollard has a new album dropping mere months after Guided By Voices’ second (and likely final) breakup….Read More
The first thing the listener will notice about Ricked Wicky is that it is the most musically adept project Guided By Voices’ frontman Robert Pollard has undertaken in some time, at least since late period-GBV (Half-Smiles of the Decomposed, for instance), or even Boston Spaceships. “[Ricked Wicky] is a sophisticated arena rock band,” says Pollard:Read More