Guided By Voices, Dayton’s own indie rock/lo-fi pioneers are set to release three albums this year, including their 27th album, “Zeppelin Over China,” which was released earlier this month.
The band has a long history stretching back to the early ‘80s and despite the near-anonymity in their hometown, their influence and mark on indie rock is well documented.
The band got their start in the early ‘80s when Robert and his brother Jim Pollard, both graduates of Northridge High School, ditched sports and turned their attention to music.
Alongside fellow Daytonians, bass player (later guitarist for the band) Mitch Mitchell and drummer Kevin Fennell, the band produced a series of albums written and recorded using Portastudio 4-track machines.
During this time Jim Pollard would leave the band, clearing the way for Centerville graduate and songwriter/guitarist Tobin Sprout and bass player Greg Demos, who would remain members of the band well into the ‘90s.
It wasn’t until 1992’s “Propeller,” an album deemed at the time their last, that the band gained any form of notoriety, getting airplay on the college radio scene of the day.
It was from this album that the band would gain their loving acronym “GBV” which is chanted at the beginning of “Propeller” and would be chanted at the beginning of shows from there on.
The band’s breakthrough in indie rock happened two years later with the release of their seminal album, 1994’s “Bee Thousand.” Later, the follow-ups, “Alien Lanes” and “Under the Bushes Under the Stars” would further their popularity in college rock circuits with songs like “Motor Away,” “I Am a Scientist” and “The Official Ironmen Rally Song.”
In the early days of the band, all of the members had day jobs, Robert Pollard, often called “Bob” by himself and fans, worked for 14 years as a school teacher. Pollard taught elementary, junior high and high school, before eventually settling on 4th grade. Pollard would later state that his time as a teacher inspired some of the bands most popular songs, including “Teenage FBI,” “Gold Star for Robot Boy” and “Non-Absorbing.”
As the band’s popularity grew and their albums became more professional, no longer recording on 4-tracks, the band grew in members.
They filled up their ranks with former Cobra Verde members, out of Cleveland, OH. From here the band’s sound grew out of their lo-fi/British Invasion roots to become a full-fledged rock band.
At one-point Bob Pollard was even tapped by Tom Hanks to write the titular track for his film, “That Thing You Do.”
Ultimately, Pollard turned it down, as well as a few other opportunities including a chance to sing for a Budweiser ad, and even a Krispy Kreme jingle he jokingly wrote himself.
Most of GBV’s mark on the history of music is in the influence they had and their role in pioneering lo-fi and indie music, along with acts like Pavement, Sebadoh, The Mountain Goats, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Microphones/Mount Eerie.
Their influence can even be heard in current lo-fi/indie A.K.A. “Bandcamp Bands” like Car Seat Headrest and Cloud Nothings.
In addition, they have a fan in Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes, and the later incarnation of the band can be seen playing against The Strokes at Family Feud and partying with them at a bar in the band’s video for “Someday.”
“Zeppelin Over China” is their 27th album and was released Feb. 1. There is a debate on if it is truly their 27th album, as a previous album “Tonics and Twisted Chasers” was released exclusively to their fan club.
“Zeppelin Over China” is a 32 track, double-album featuring the band’s patented quick, fast paced pop hooks and songs that average a little over two minutes. Two other albums are set to release later this year.