Jimmy Blackburn interviews and reviews the new album by Guided by Voices

Guided by voices

They are the middle-aged kings of lo-fi, they made about 47 albums without telling anyone, they are GUIDED BY VOICES and Jimmy Blackburn had a quick word with their frontman ROBERT POLLARD just the other day.

How come no one noticed you for years and years?

Well, our first six records were for our own labels, and we didn't try to do anything with them, we didn't have any press bio kits, didn't send any out for review. Eventually our bass player sent out copies, without my permission, and they started to get pretty good reviews. I told the band that if we were really good someone would find us. It took 6 albums for that to happen. I named our fifth album Propeller because I told them 'This album is going to propel us to success'. I t was a joke. We were always bashful, and never had any confidence in ourselves, so it was just a hobby.

Do you make more money now than you did when you were a teacher?

I make more now, but it's kinda sad that an 'anti-rocker' can make more money than a teacher.

That's the way of the world I suppose. The new album is your first on 24 track tape, but it still sounds as GBV as ever. How come?

We don't rehearse the new songs though they're written, but I teach the drummer the song. Once I think he's learnt it we record it with a guitar track, then finish it off with vocals and other guitar tracks. The whole process takes about 3 or 4 hours. We did 18 songs in a week. We were happy because we caught the spontaneous feel we used to have in the basement. (The original recording base of GBV.)

So we won't be expecting an orchestral epic from you then?

I'm not against it. I think some of that stuff sounds good but I don't feel like spending a lot of my brain bringing in an orchestra or whatever.

Dayton, Ohio is sorta famous all of a sudden, what with you, Kim Deal and the Bosnian peace talks.

Yeah, there's some bands in Dayton getting some attention now, which is odd because there aren't any good places to meet, no good record shops, and not even a good place for bands to play. There might be a snowball effect, the same happened to Athens, Georgia after REM.

And finally, how do you remain motivated? You're hardly kids are you.

I always wanted to be in a band, from when I was a little kid. The idea of four or five people working together fascinated me, but it was a long time before I could find the right musicians to work with. But now it is happening, and we're in our mid to late thirties. The motivation now is just to continue writing and performing.

And that's got to be better than teaching vile kids any day. Nice man, good band. Under the Bushes, Under the Stars was released on 25 March on Matador.

Guided by voices: Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (Matador)

The latest album from the extraordinarily prolific old fellas from Dayton, Ohio, 'Under the Bushes' is a fine sequel to last years excellent Alien Lanes, this time recorded in bizarre fashion with all the best modern technology has to offer. Twenty four tracks taped on 24 track, not that you can tell, this record sees GBV approaching the mainstream on its own terms for the first time. Bob Pollard's voice now has some of the painful yearning that makes Michael Stipe so believable, and the frequent ringing tones of twelve string guitars remind the listener that this band are essentially part of a Great American tradition of off-kilter folk music. Standouts among the fragments include opener 'Man Called Aerodynamics', the pounding, indecipherable 'Lord of Overstock', the wonderful 'Big Boring Wedding' and the neat, short 'Don't Stop Now', but as ever with GBV you get it or you don't. If the idea of an album with more clues than solutions intrigues, then get this. (8/10) (JB)

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