Mr. Rocker

Guided By Voices' Bob Pollard lives out his rock 'n' roll fantasy

BP: I was in a complete alter-world with Genesis. I loved them. I heard the live album (1973's Genesis Live) first and then I found Selling England by the Pound. Then Lamb Lies Down on Broadway came out, which I really got into. I was completely immersed in this strange world of Peter Gabriel and Genesis. It's probably the most important music to me in my life. I probably liked early Genesis more than even the Beatles or the Who.

NT: It was kind of odd that people were so shocked by that. Because vocally and lyrically your work and Gabriel's from that period are similar in a lot of ways.

BP: I think so. My philosophy, and I'm sure is his too, is melody and lyrics. His lyrics are great, or they were. I'm not into Peter Gabriel too much anymore. He's into the world-music thing, and I don't particularly care for that kind of stuff. But I loved it when he was in his eccentric British phase, all the crazy imagery of early '70s Genesis. You can see some of that influence in my lyrics on the more out-there stuff, especially around the time of (1994's) Bee Thousand.

Guided by Budweiser: Pollard (arms outstretched) and his rock 'n' roll drinking buddies.
Guided by Budweiser: Pollard (arms outstretched) and his rock 'n' roll drinking buddies.
Surgical focus: Pollard, wrapped up in his muse.
Surgical focus: Pollard, wrapped up in his muse.

NT: What about the chances of commercial success. Is it something you want or need at this point?

BP: I just like making music. It really doesn't matter to me whether we make a "big record" or make a record on our own here in Dayton. The point of it is to keep doing things; to keep writing songs and making records. Some people are like, "Are you afraid it might fail?" And I'm not afraid of failure because we were failures from the beginning. Nobody gave a shit about us for 10 years.

Now, I've got a strong enough fan base to where I could continue doing this for a living on my own. But out of curiosity you want to see how your band can do. I see other bands that are commercially successful, and their records are being played on the radio, and I just think, "Well, my band's a lot better than that, and I write better songs than that." That's not to sound egotistical. I just think there's no reason why we can't do it.

Also, right now, I think what's being played on the radio is kind of frustrating because it's so bad. I'm not opposed to having a song that breaks the Top 40, but I don't want to be a part of what's going on in the Top 40 right now. I want to change things a little bit. That's a kind of glamorous, romantic notion that we can do something to change music and the state that it's in right now. I hope we can.

Guided By Voices is scheduled to perform on Monday, November 15, at the Green Room in Tempe, with Those Bastard Souls. Showtime is 9 p.m.

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