Just a year and a half since Dangerous Minds reported on Guided By Voices’ breakup comes the news that the band’s ringleader and lone constant member Bob Pollard has reunited the band yet again—kinda. The group was announced as the headliner of the Sled Island festival in Calgary, Alberta, and various credible outlets have reported that a new GBV album is in the works with Pollard playing every instrument. Which would seem like less of a “reunion” and more of an indication of Pollard’s evident willingness to keep hauling the GBV name out of storage for as long as obsessives are willing to line up to buy yet another GBV album—with the recent release of the fourth installment of the blood-from-a-stone “Suitcase” series of multi-CD sets full of alternate takes and discarded songs only underscoring that point. The move of calling a solo album Guided By Voices might not sit well with those subsets of the band’s fandom that hold that it’s not truly Guided By Voices without early ‘90s guitarist Tobin Sprout or later-era-defining guitarist Doug Gillard, but then this turned up on Twitter:
And the new GBV live line-up is: Robert Pollard with Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar), Kevin March (drums), Nick Mitchell (guitar), Mark Shue (bass)— Guided By Voices (@GBVTweets) February 9, 2016
Bobby Bare, Jr. is a highly noteworthy roots rocker. Kevin March was the drummer of GBV’s previous final lineup. Nick Mitchell is Pollard’s (and March’s) collaborator in the band Ricked Wicky, and Mark Shue was the bassist for The Library Is On Fire, connected to GBV via producer Todd Tobias. This is just the live lineup, and there’s no indication that this will be a creative unit, but whatever shows that ensemble does should probably be pretty goddamn good. Snobbier uberdorks who haven’t gotten over the fact that Guided By Voices is whatever Bob Pollard wants it to be are 100% guaranteed to cry foul about the lack of past members anyway, but this sort of thing has happened before.
In 1997, Pollard jettisoned the band’s entire lineup and replaced them with the arty glam-punk band Cobra Verde, a supergroup with members of Death of Samantha, garage-punks The Reactions, and power-metalists Breaker. That version of the band committed the GBV sacrilege of recording most of the album Mag Earwhig! in an actual multitrack studio, an apostasy that was rewarded when the Gillard-penned single “I Am A Tree,” originally released by his own band Gem, became one of GBV’s most revered fan-favorites. “Guided By Verde” only lasted the one album; ironically, that major GBV lineup shuffle provoked a major shakeup in Cobra Verde, as well. Gillard remained in GBV with Pollard (and quite edifyingly, at that) while CV’s honcho John Petkovic ended up carrying on with an entirely new band, himself.
During that lineup’s brief existence, they did a great appearance on the strange TV show Oddville, MTV. That show tried—sorta too hard—to combine ‘70s look-at-the-weirdo reality shows like Real People and That’s Incredible with the bizarro talent show trip of The Gong Show AND the awkward talk parody of Fernwood 2 Night. Ultimately, the effect wound up being something like an affectedly cheap version of David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks” bit stretched out to half an hour, and the musical guests tended to be pedestrian alterna-dross. But Guided By Verde’s performance of the Mag Earwhig! cut “Bulldog Skin” pretty much KILLED, and the episode’s other oddball acts all gleefully danced along, which is completely crazy to watch.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The club is closed: Watch Guided By Voices’ final show
Death of Samantha: Great ‘lost’ ‘80s underground band returns
Mike Watt stars in new Sweet Apple video: a DM exclusive premiere
Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard: College baseball stud pitches no-hitter