Guided By Voices Unveils New But Familiar Lineup

After messy breakup with Cobra Verde, leader Bob Pollard recruits new backup band.

Almost one month after Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard watched the most recent lineup of his band dissolve in a huff, he's bounced back with yet another group of backing musicians.

Matador representative Paul Sommerstein confirmed that a new backing group of musicians, two of whom have worked with GBV previously, will be joining Pollard in the studio to record the next GBV album. The latest ensemble includes the guitarist for GBV's most recent lineup, Doug Gillard, ex-Breeders drummer Jim McPherson, and former GBV alumnus Greg Demos.

"It happened over the course of the last couple of weeks," Sommerstein said, referring to the new lineup. "Bob has known Jim McPherson for a while; Demos lives in Dayton and has played with the band before; and Bob has already worked with Gillard."

Pollard, who has been through numerous lineup changes since the Dayton, Ohio-based band formed in 1986, was unavailable for comment on the recent reformation. Though the band as a whole has changed, the individual members are familiar to GBV fans.

The most recognizable new member is Gillard, guitarist for the Cleveland band Cobra Verde, which backed Pollard on his latest GBV album Mag Earwhig! and on their recent tour. Gillard, who wrote "I am a Tree," GBV's current single off Earwhig!, was caught in the middle of the falling out between Pollard and Cobra Verde when their tour suddenly collapsed last month after the backing band got word of Pollard's plans to go with a new lineup.

While Gillard has agreed to be a part of the new GBV lineup and has expressed his interest in collaborating with Pollard on new songs, Sommerstein said he also will continue to play with Cobra Verde, which is currently at work on its next album.

Rounding out the latest incarnation of the band are former Breeders and Amps drummer McPherson, who Pollard has said he's been interested in working with for some time. Another familiar GBV face, Demos, toured and recorded with the band in 1994 and 1995, during the Alien Lanes era.

Pollard first revealed to Addicted To Noise that he was considering working with different musicians for his next album on Oct. 21, news that apparently came as a surprise to members of Cobra Verde, who heard about it through word-of-mouth. After a tension-filled Columbus, Ohio gig, the mercurial singer found himself without a backing band and was forced to cancel a show in Chicago.

While this large of a lineup change might pose problems for some bands, it's business as usual for Pollard, who has seen GBV go through some 40 or more musicians in more than a decade. While there have been collaborations with other musicians, most notably Pollard's original partner, Tobin Sprout, the GBV mastermind remains the only constant, and the principal singer/songwriter.

During the October Addicted To Noise interview, Pollard said he'd recorded rough versions of between 20 and 30 songs, some of which he said will appear on the as-yet-untitled next album; he also said he is considering another solo effort. The tunes range from GBV-style "rock anthems" to a few guitar ballads a la early Guided By Voices, he said. Among the titles are "Surgical Focus," a power-punker about "someone who changes your life, someone who is more on the ball," Pollard said. Other songs that could appear on the album: "Pick Seed From My Skull" and "When I Go North." And there also are two songs that Pollard recorded on eight-track with the aid of Sprout.

Meanwhile, the new lineup is expected to head to the studio in January 1998 to begin recording, according to Sommerstein. "Contrary to rumors that the band was without a record contract for its next album, Guided By Voices owes us [Matador] one more record," he said. "But I'm not sure what's on their contract after this next one."

Sommerstein also confirmed that the new lineup, except for Demos who works as an attorney, will be touring in support of the next album after its release. [Tues., Nov. 25, 1997, 5 p.m. PDT]