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Guided By Voices

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 limit 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.

By the release of 1995's Alien Lanes, GBV had joined Matador's official roster; their contract with Scat was completed with the spring release of Box, a five-disc box set containing the band's pre-Propeller albums. Alien Lanes was greeted with positive reviews upon its March release, and the group embarked on its first full-scale American tour. Greer left the band before the recording of Under the Bushes Under the Stars, which was released in the spring of 1996. That fall, Pollard and Tobin Sprout both released solo albums on the same day; the records were quickly followed by an album-length EP a month after their release. As the solo albums indicated, Pollard and Sprout had had a falling out during the group's extensive tour earlier that year, which resulted in Pollard firing the rest of the group.

At the end of 1996, Pollard recorded the next Guided by Voices record, Mag Earwhig!, supported by the Cleveland garage punk band Cobra Verde. In 1999, Guided by Voices left Matador to sign with TVT Records, which paired the band with producer Ric Ocasek in hopes of giving GBV's label debut, Do the Collapse, a more radio-friendly sound. Pollard, however, allowed fans of his older work to revel in his lo-fi period with Suitcase: Failed Experiments & Trashed Aircraft, a four-disc box set featuring 100 unreleased songs recorded over the space of 25 years. While GBV's second album for TVT, 2001's polished and hard-rocking Isolation Drills, received strong reviews, the band hadn't expanded its fan base far beyond its loyal cult, and in 2002 GBV returned to Matador with Universal Truths and Cycles, as well as a number of side projects released through Pollard's reactivated Rockathon label.

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 assembled what he called a "classic lineup" of 1990's GBV veterans (including Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell, and Greg Demos) to play a show at the Matador Records 21st anniversary festival. The show was well received, and the lineup proceeded to tour again; in 2011, Pollard 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 of the same year, with a third, The Bears for Lunch, following before the year was out. The reunited band soldiered on in 2013 and dropped its fourth album, English Little League, right on schedule in May, followed shortly by the six-song EP Down by the Racetrack. After a public falling out with drummer Kevin Fennell -- who was asked to leave the band in October 2013 following a curious incident in which he attempted to sell his drum kit online for $55,000 -- frontman Pollard announced that the group would release its 21st album, Motivational Jumpsuit, with Kevin March behind the drums. The album saw release in February 2014. They continued their resurgence with Cool Planet, scheduled for release just months after Motivational Jumpsuit appeared, after recording 18 tracks during the freezing "polar vortex" weather system that swept through America that winter. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Suitcase 2

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Track List: Flunky Minnows (Single)


Track List: Human Amusements At Hourly Rates

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5

Track List: Islands (She Talks In Rainbows) (Single)


Track List: Noble Insect (Single)


Track List: The Unsinkable Fats Domino (Single)


Track List: Trash Can Full Of Nails (Single)


Track List: Xeno Pariah (Single)


Eureka signs...awes o m e tune. Talented band!
I'm sad I'll never get to see these guys live. :-(
Making rock history one song at a time
the club is open
This band is a game changer
Great band, great bio, so inspirationa l how the band reformed and continue to make new music. I heard these guys in 2012 (thanks to Music Choice's MCU) and I thought these sound great. I have always heard these guys on Pandora and to some extent i have heard their older material. Keep going GBV.
the only thing wrong with GbV is that they drink Budweiser. otherwise theyre perfect
He sounds like Janis Joplin when he talks in that Live in Austin gig.
F ing BEER, MAN!
My first concert, when I was 13, in 1993, was in dayton, OH. lineup - GBV, The Breeders, The Afghan Whigs, and the New Bomb Turks. It still hasn't gotten any better than that!
Hey F@ck You if you dislike GBV. Give me your address and I will pay you a visit just make sure you have vaseline as I will be shoving all of those shi.tty 1990's rap Cd's up your arse, okay brah?
Funny, Pandora... similar artists... are you saying Robert Pollard sounds like Guided By Voices?

Anyway, I got see GBV live, too. And, yes. Pollard had a fishing cooler on stage, which is huge, filled with Budweiser. If you know anything about the bulk of their songs they're usually around 2 minutes long. Somehow within the course of a song he'd manage (while singing) to crack a beer, finish it, and have another one cracked before the next song began. He never missed a note!
This is in response to Jeffery K. (even though his post is now 2 years old). The reason Pollard sounds funny in the Live from Austin recording is because he was wasted by about half way through the show. He was drinking the entire show... if you listen to the entire show you'll hear him get progressivel y drunker as it goes along.

I know because I was there. A lot of us were pretty drunk by the end. It was a lot of fun.
The greatest garage band ever. Robert Pollard is a bona fide genius.
kencampbells t u d i o s
They Wow. Pop Song Goodness and Bud Cans.
The very best contemporary band on the planet.
Pollard is one of the five most captivating rock performers I have seen live. He's cool, snide and seems to mean every word of it.
Ah yeah :D
GBV is only the greatest indie band ever. King S**t and The Golden Boys is one their definitive great albums. Don't Stop Now epitomizes the twenty one years of pure genius that Pollard gave his blood, sweat, and tears in to. Learning To Hunt describes the difficulties of weathering through our relationship s . That Pollard has more music to give is just another testimony to his constant ability to write songs that hit a chord with the times. ---- Hosh

they are great. theyre best song is "Chasing Heather Crazy". no arguement.
Hmm wow. They've been around forever but never listened to them. I wish I had sooner. A bunch of their songs are popping up on a channel seeded by Life Without Buildings. Good stuff.
ok nvm they stopped ;)
ok but why do they keep playing the live austin tx stuff...poll a r d sounds tired's cool

...but he sounds tired
Great songs great sounds, whats not to like?
GBV is one of the great rock & roll bands to grace us with there presence within the last 15 years. If you dont get it, then dont listen. The influeneces are so many it is impossible to nail them to just one.You can hear garage-fuzz rock,poppy-g r u n g e , i n t e l l i - r o c k which mixes Robert Pollards melodic style story telling with his passionate message. This band has featured several diffrent line-up's with Bob being the corner stone on lead vocals,creat i v e vision and song writing.Most line ups have be
warehouselov e 7 5
poop in yo pants bromide....
theastoundin g k d o g
"Useless Inventions" is quite good.
We're so lo-fi you can hardly hear our coolness. These guys are so stuck in the 90's it's not funny.
earthbendert o p h
I'm sorry, but if a person takes the effort to complain about music they don't like, isn't it a waste of everybody's time? I'm just enjoying their music for the sake of Music. Isn't that enough?
GBV is Pure genius! If you don't get it, then go back to school.
GBV are geniuses.... . o n l y truly smart people write songs titled "Bright Paper Werewolves" "Tractor Rape Chain" & "14 Cheerleader Cold Front"
misguided by vices. ...
Guided by mentally ill Voices...
Hall-of-Fame worthy if you ignore everything after Mag Earwhig
TO: Awkward Ronald/Mephi s t o p h e l e s ' Dog:
very funny....he does get a bit spitty.
Wow..Pollard and his band rock!!
the standard by which all are measured
I like Robert Pollard, but he sure gets spitty. I mean, spit flies everywhere. Spit spit spitty spit all over the folks in front when he sings. LOOK OUT! HE'S GETTIN SPITTY!
Thanks, Alex. That's a lot more helpful to me. (Besides, I like them.)
Guided By Voices is the epitome of indie rock. Their ever-evolvin g sound always maintains a true post rock functionalit y while rocking out like never before. pollards lyrics are like none other. true poetry. What an incredible band. nuff said. Sounds almost like Husker Du my a**.
sounds almost like Husker Du

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