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Robert Pollard

One of the things that made Guided by Voices' rise from underground curios to indie superstars in the early '90s so noteworthy was that vocalist/guitarist Robert Pollard was also a teacher, an uncommon occupation for rock & roll idols. Pollard was born on October 31, 1957, in Dayton, Ohio. As a child, he was groomed by his father to become a professional athlete, and pitched a no-hitter for his high-school baseball team, but in college he realized that music meant more to him than sports. Pollard formed Guided by Voices in Dayton in 1983 while working part-time at an elementary school. Also consisting of Paul Comstock (guitar/piano), Mitch Mitchell (bass), and Eric Payton (drums), Guided by Voices released their first EP, Forever Since Breakfast, in 1986. Pollard's love for British Invasion records, as well as an admiration for progressive rock and R.E.M.'s murky jangle, sculpted the band's early LPs, all of which Pollard, his brother, and the group's manager financed by requesting a loan from the Dayton Public Schools Credit Union.

Although Pollard remained at the helm, Guided by Voices had a continuously changing lineup in the '80s and '90s. A firm believer in the artistic qualities of lo-fi production, Pollard also had an ear for accessible albeit quirky pop, and when both sides converged on 1994's Bee Thousand, many critics began to chant his name. On Bee Thousand, Pollard's songwriting finally reached its potential, and the band's initial post-punk experimentation was toned down for hook-laden college rock such as "I Am a Scientist." The group was suddenly thrust into the mainstream, appearing briefly on MTV and acquiring the kind of glowing accolades from corporate magazines often given to established alternative bands like R.E.M. and Nirvana.

Pollard quit his teaching job, and the group performed on the Lollapalooza tour. A year later, Guided by Voices recorded 60 tunes in a 24-track studio; however, Pollard wasn't pleased with the results. At first uncomfortable with the songs' "hi-fi" sound, Pollard returned to the studio to finish the album, recording much of Under the Bushes Under the Stars in two days. In 1996, following Pollard's decision to fire the other members of Guided by Voices and replace them with members of the group Cobra Verde, he released his solo debut, Not in My Airforce, and as GbV became increasingly popular, Pollard began using his solo releases as a platform for his more esoteric musical ideas.

In 2004, Pollard announced he was retiring Guided by Voices and relaunching himself as a solo artist. Signing with Merge Records, Pollard released his first post-GbV album, From a Compound Eye, in early 2006, and a second album, Normal Happiness, appeared a few months later. By the end of 2007, Pollard parted ways with Merge and formed his own label, Guided by Voices Inc., which soon spawned offshoot imprints such as Prom Is Coming Records, Record Company Records, Fading Captain Records, and Rockathon Records, allowing him to release as much new music as he pleased. Between the near constant flow of solo material and his collaborations with the Keane Brothers, Circus Devils, Boston Spaceships, and other ad hoc bands, Pollard released 14 albums, ten singles, and four EPs from 2008 to 2010, more than many of his peers would release in their entire careers. In 2010, Pollard got back in touch with his inner jock when he scored 4,192, a documentary about legendary Cincinnati Reds hitter Pete Rose; earlier that same year, Pollard was inducted into the Northridge High School Hall of Fame for his teenage skills on the diamond, and as Pollard told a reporter, "You could make a lot of money on a bar bet: 'One of these two men is in a baseball hall of fame. Can you guess who?'"

In 2010, Pollard surprised many by reuniting the "classic lineup" of Guided by Voices -- Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos, and Kevin Fennell -- for a handful of live shows. As the concerts quickly became sellouts, Guided by Voices added more dates, and in 2012 GbV confirmed their reunion was semi-permanent when they cut a new album, Let's Go Eat the Factory, released by Pollard's GbV Inc. label. Three more GbV albums appeared within the space of 12 months -- Class Clown Spots a UFO, The Bears for Lunch, and English Little League -- while the band played occasional live shows and Pollard remained furiously prolific as a solo artist, releasing two solo albums a year in 2011 and 2012.

In the fall of 2013, the "classic lineup" of Guided by Voices splintered when drummer Kevin Fennell was either fired (according to Pollard) or resigned (according to Fennell) after a bizarre incident in which Fennell unsuccessfully attempted to sell his drum kit online for $55,000. While fans waited on the group's future, they had plenty to keep them occupied: in December 2013, Pollard released another solo set, Blazing Gentlemen, in which he claimed to be experimenting with more traditional songwriting techniques, while in the months that followed he scheduled another solo single, two LPs with the Circus Devils (When Machines Attack and My Mind Has Seen the White Trick), and yet another GbV album, Motivational Jumpsuit, with Kevin March on drums.

In September 2014, months after the release of GbV's Cool Planet, Guided by Voices unexpectedly announced they were canceling all tour dates as the band had once again broken up, but that did little to slow down the notoriously prolific Pollard; he launched yet another ad hoc group, Ricked Wicky, with the February 2015 album I Sell the Circus, and May 2015 saw the release of a Pollard solo set, Faulty Superheroes. In March 2016, Pollard released a new solo set, Of Course You Are, in which he wrote and sang all the songs and all the instrumental work was handled by Nick Mitchell of Ricked Wicky. Around the same time, Pollard also announced that Guided by Voices would be touring in 2016, in a new lineup including Nick Mitchell, Bobby Bare, Jr., Mark Shue, and Kevin March. ~ Michael Sutton
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Blazing Gentlemen

1. Magic Man Hype

2. Blazing Gentlemen

3. Red Flag Down

4. Storm Center Level Seven

5. Return Of The Drums

6. Piccadilly Man

7. Professional Goose Trainer

8. Extra Fool's Day

9. 1000 Royalty Street

10. My Museum Needs An Elevator

11. Tonight's The Rodeo

12. Tea People

13. Faking The Boy Scouts

14. Triple Sec Venus

15. This Place Has Everything

16. Lips Of Joy

x

Track List: Honey Locust Honky Tonk

1. He Requested Things

2. Circus Green Machine

3. Strange And Pretty Day

4. Suit Minus The Middle

5. Drawing A Picture

6. Who Buries The Understaker?

7. She Hides In Black

8. Her Eyess Play Tricks On The Camera

9. Find A Word

10. I Have To Drink

11. Flash Gordon Style

12. Igloo Hearts

13. Shielding Whatever Need You

14. I Killed A Man Who Looks Like You

15. Real Fun In No One's Monopoly

16. It Disappears In The Least Likely Hand We May Never Not Know

17. Airs

x

Track List: Mouseman Cloud

1. Obvious #1

2. Picnic Drums

3. Mouseman Cloud

4. Dr. Time

5. Lizard Ladder

6. Human Zoo

7. Bats Flew Up

8. Mother's Milk And Magnets

9. Continue To Break

10. I Was Silence

11. Smacks Of Euphoria

12. Science Magazine

13. No Tools

14. Aspirin Moon

15. Half Strained

16. Zen Mother Hen

17. Chief Meteorologist

x

Track List: Lord Of The Birdcage

1. Smashed Middle Finger

2. Aspersion

3. Dunce Codex

4. Garden Swarm

5. You Can't Challange Forward Progress

6. In A Circle

7. You Sold Me Quickly

8. The Focus (Burning)

9. Ribbon Of Fat

10. Silence Before Violence

11. Holy Fire

12. Ash Ript Telecopter

x

Track List: Space City Kicks

1. Mr. Fantastic Must Die!

2. Space City Kicks

3. Blowing Like A Sunspot

4. I Wanna Be Your Man In The Moon

5. Sex She Said

6. One More Touch

7. Picture A Star

8. Something Strawberry

9. Follow A Loser

10. Children Ships

11. Stay Away

12. Gone Hoping

13. Into It

14. Tired Life

15. Touch Me In The Right Place At The Right Time

16. Woman To Fly

17. Getting Going

18. Spill The Blues

x

Track List: Moses On A Snail

1. The Weekly Crow

2. A Constant Strangle

3. Arrows And Balloons

4. Lie Like A Dog

5. Ice Cold War

6. Each Is Good In His Own House

7. How I've Been In Trouble

8. It's News

9. It's A Pleasure Being You

10. Big Time Wrestling

11. Teardrop Paintballs

12. Moses On A Snail

x

Track List: We All Got Out Of The Army

1. Silk Rotor

2. I Can See

3. Post Hydrate Update

4. Your Rate Will Never Go Up

5. On Top Of The Vertigo

6. Red Pyramid

7. Talking Dogs

8. Rice Train

9. Wild Girl

10. I'll Take The Cure

11. Cameo Of A Smile

12. Poet Bums

13. How Many Stations

14. His Knighthood Photograph

15. Face Down

16. We All Got Out (Of The Army)

17. Faster To Babylon

x

Track List: Elephant Jokes

1. Things Have Changed (Down In Mexico City)

2. Johnny Optimist

3. When A Man Walks Away

4. Parts Of Your World

5. Symbols And Heads

6. I Felt Revolved

7. Epic Heads

8. Stiff Me

9. Compound X

10. Accident Hero

11. Tattered Lily

12. Hippsville (Where The Frisbees Fly Forever)

13. Newly Selected Dirt Spots

14. Jimmy

15. Pigeon Tripping

16. Spectrum Factory

17. Perverted Eyelash

18. Cosmic Yellow Children

19. Blown Out Man

20. Desiring

21. All You Need To Know

22. Architectural Nightmare Man

x

Track List: The Crawling Distance

1. Faking My Harlequin

2. Cave Zone

3. Red Cross Vegas Night

4. The Butler Stands For All Of Us

5. It's Easy

6. No Island

7. By Silence Be Destroyed

8. Imaginary Queen Anne

9. On Short Wave

10. Too Much Fun (Is Too Much Fun)

x

Track List: Silverfish Trivia (Ep)

1. Come Outside

2. Circle Saw Boys Club

3. Wickerman Smile

4. Touched To Be Sure

5. Waves, Etc.

6. Cats Love A Parade

7. Speak In Many Colors

x

Track List: From A Compound Eye

1. Gold

2. Field Jacket Blues

3. Dancing Girls And Dancing Men

4. A Flowering Orphan

5. The Right Thing

6. U.S. Mustard Company

7. The Numbered Head

8. I'm A Widow

9. Fresh Threads, Salad Shooters And Zip Guns

10. Kick Me And Cancel

11. Other Dogs Remain

12. Kensington Cradle

13. Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft

14. Hammer In Your Eyes

15. 50 Year Old Baby

16. I Surround You Naked

17. C**k Of The Rainbow

18. Conquerer Of The Moon

19. Blessed In An Open Head

20. A Boy In Motion

21. Denied

22. Light Show

23. I'm A Strong Lion

24. Payment For The Babies

25. Kingdom Without

26. Recovering

x

Track List: Music For Bubble

1. All Men Are Freezing

2. 747 Ego

3. Boring About

4. Search-Light Pickups

5. I'm No Child

6. 747 Ego (Oh Yeah)

x

Track List: Zoom

1. Dr. Fuji And Henry Charleston (Zoom Variation)

2. Have A Day Mr. Clay

3. Catherine From Mid-October

4. Zoom (It Happens All Over The World)

x

Track List: Fiction Man

1. Run Son Run

2. I Expect A Kill

3. Sea Of Dead

4. Children Come On

5. The Louis Armstrong Of Rock And Roll

6. Losing Usage

7. Built To Improve

8. Paradise Style

9. Conspiracy Of Owls

10. It's Only Natural

11. Trial Of Affliction And Light Sleeping

12. Every Word In The World

13. Night Of The Golden Underground

14. Their Biggest Win

x

Track List: Robert Pollard And His Soft Rock Renegades: Choreographed Man Of War

1. I Drove A Tank

2. She Saw The Shadow

3. Edison's Memos

4. 7th Level Shutdown

5. 40 Yards To The Burning Bush

6. Aeriel

7. Citizen Fighter

8. Kickboxer Lightning

9. Bally Hoo

10. Instrument Beetle

x

Track List: Kid Marine

1. Submarine Teams

2. Flings Of The Waistcoat Crowd

3. The Big Make-Over

4. Men Who Create Fright

5. Television Prison

6. Strictly Comedy

7. Far Out Crops

8. Living Upside Down

9. Snatch Candy

10. White Gloves Come Off

11. Enjoy Jerusalem!

12. You Can't Hold Your Woman

13. Town Of Mirrors

14. Powerblessings

15. Island Crimes

x

Track List: Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love/Standard Gargoyle Decisions

Disc 1

1. Our Gaze

2. Count Us In

3. Exactly What Words Mean

4. Current Desperation (Angels Speak Of Nothing)

5. Dumb Lady

6. Rud Fins

7. Customer's Throat

8. Miles Under The Skin

10. Slow Hamilton

11. Look Is What You Have

13. Life Of A Wife

14. Youth Leagues

15. When We Were Slaves

16. Nicely Now

Disc 2

1. The Killers

2. Pill Gone Girl

3. Hero Blows The Revolution

4. Psycho-Inertia

5. Shadow Port

6. Lay Me Down

7. Butcher Man

8. Motion Sickness Ghosts

9. I In The World

10. Here Comes Garcia

11. The Island Lobby

12. Folded Claws

13. Feel Not Crushed

14. Accusations

15. Don't Trust Anybody

16. Come Here Beautiful

17. Spider Eyes

x

Track List: Faulty Superheroes

1. What A Man

2. Cafe Of Elimination

3. Faulty Superheroes

4. Faster The Great

5. The Real Wilderness

6. Photo Enforced Human Highway

7. Take Me To Yolita

8. Up Up And Up

9. You Only Need One

10. Bizarro's Last Quest

11. Mozart's Throne

12. Perikeet Vista

x

Track List: Is Off To Business

1. The Original Heart

2. The Blondes

3. 1 Years Old

4. Gratification To Concrete

5. No One But I

6. Weatherman And Skin Goddess

7. Confessions Of A Teenage Jerk-Off

8. To The Path!

9. Western Centipede

10. Wealth And Hell Being

x

Track List: Moon

1. Gold

2. I Surround You Naked

3. Blessed In An Open Head

4. Get A Faceful

5. Dancing Girls And Dancing Men

6. The Right Thing

7. Dolphins Of Color

8. Boxing About

9. Fresh Threats, Salad Shooters And Zip Guns

10. Conqueror Of The Moon

11. I'm A Widow

12. I Feel Gone Again

13. Game Of Pricks

14. Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft

Comments

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I don't get it all he says is "touch me in the right place at the right time" which I find weird
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Cool
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so fantastic. i love it. even the Suitcase material
Report as inappropriate
Mars Classroom is my favorite Pollard release is the last 10 years...Chec k it out, some how it never got much attention.
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Oh Bob Pollard love the new GBV stuff keep making great pop music!!!
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Good stuff.
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Love the new solo album, Elephant Jokes. Excellent stuff, and an excellent year for Uncle Bob in general.
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husker_dood
what a shamu. love him forever.
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"7th Level Shutdown" should be MANDATORY listening. Again, freakin genius.
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I love Bob Pollard! Theeee most prolific songwriter ever!
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Wow. This guy is amazing. Life, feeling and some relief in a nice ONE minute and 45 second long song...over and over on every song. TOP fourty is so lame.
Report as inappropriate
..."while working part time at an elementary school"!? Can someone say School of Rock?
Report as inappropriate
In 2006, Paste Magazine listed him as the 78th greatest living songwriter.

In 2007, he was nominated for the Shortlist Music Prize.

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