Dayton band and early ‘90s “lo-fi pioneers,” Guided by Voices (known as GBV by fans) are set to release their newest album in October. “Sweating the Plague” the band’s 29th album and third this year, will release Oct. 25.
Formed in the ‘80s by brothers and Northmont graduates Robert Pollard and Jim Pollard (who would later depart the band) the band played locally at pubs and music venues while the members of the band worked day jobs around the Dayton community.
Robert Pollard, himself a Wright State graduate, worked as an elementary school teacher throughout the early years of the bands existence, a thought that, if you knew the band’s raucous on-stage personas, is surprising and somewhat hilarious.
The image of a middle-aged man doing The Who-inspired bursts of exaltation and performing high kicks also teaching kids about Paul Revere and contractions has always been a great, hilarious juxtaposition in my mind’s eye.
Their early albums, often inspired by other indie bands like R.E.M. or by British Invasion bands like The Who or The Beatles were all recorded on DIY equipment, the band using a 4-track machine regularly to create a sound that seemed homemade and simultaneously had melodies that could sit alongside some of the best acts of their time.
Their breakthrough album, ‘92’s “Propellor” saw them finally reaching success, just as they had planned to end their musical careers, the album recorded as a swan song that found them gaining airplay on college rock radio stations alongside bands like Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and fellow Daytonian-led band The Breeders.
Kim Deal, former bass player for ‘80s indie rock band The Pixies, a band that Nirvana credited as a major influence, fronted The Breeders as is a Dayton native and friend of GBV frontman Robert Pollard.
The band grew in popularity among the college radio scene with ‘94’s “Bee Thousand,” an album that many consider to be the band’s best, if not one of their best.
“As with Big Star, the beauty of GBV’s music cocoons — and so triumphs over — its own root sadness, like an oyster building a pearl around an irritating grain of sand,” said Rolling Stone music reviewer, Michael Azerrad about “Bee Thousand” in his review in Aug. 1994. “In the jubilant climax of ‘Echos Myron,’ Pollard’s voice radiates a downright heroic melancholy as he sings, ‘And we’re finally here/And, s***, yeah, it’s cool,’ and then can’t help but add ‘or something like that.’”
Shortly after another landmark (and personal favorite) album “Under the Bushes Under the Stars” was released in 1996 the band broke up, or rather, many of the original members were let go and replaced by members of glam rock band Cobra Verde a year later.
Though many people consider this to be another high water mark for the band, as albums like “Universal Truths and Cycles,” “Isolation Drills,” “Earthquake Glue” and “Do the Collapse” (which was produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, who had previously produced albums by the likes of Weezer) were released during this period.
The band ultimately broke up for real in 2004, with their final album (at the time) being “Half Smiles of the Decomposed.”
But Pollard, ever the prolific writer, reformed the band with the “original line-up” in 2012, releasing seven albums between 2012 and 2016, three of which came out the first year of their reforming.
During the break-up and during GBV’s reforming Pollard continued writing solo music as well as forming and releasing music with several other bands, including Boston Spaceships, which was a “super-group” of sorts, featuring member John Moen of Portland-based indie rock band The Decemberists.
Boston Spaceships take their name from a colloquialism for Boston creme donuts created by Pollard himself.
The band’s “original line-up” consisted of Centerville graduate, and long-time band member and co-songwriter Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell.
Sprout himself, an accomplished songwriter and solo artist, has since moved to northern Michigan and creates art. Tim Allen, of “Toy Story” and TV’s “Home Improvement” is a big fan.
Though the “original line-up” has since left the band, replaced again by several former members from Cobra Verda and a handful of others, the band continues to tour and release albums.
This October’s release marks the current line-up’s seventh release together, since 2016, as Pollard always has a bevy of songs ready to be recorded.
Last summer they headlined Yellow Springs’ annual “Springfest” and earlier this year they played in downtown Dayton at “Headfest,” raising $20,000 for victims of the Memorial Day tornadoes and the Oregon District Shooting.
Pollard, now well into his sixties, shows no signs of slowing down, as the band continues to release new material and tour regularly.