When I was offered the opportunity to interview a member of Bob Pollard’s Guided By Voices, I knew I wasn’t the person to do it. I have a very basic knowledge of the band, so my questions would be stupid softball questions you hear on shows like “Good Morning America” during their fluff pieces about dogs that can dial a telephone or something of that ilk. So I enlisted the person I know with the greatest Guided By Voices knowledge, Layne Montgomery, to ask questions of guitarist Doug Gillard. Some of you will remember Layne from The Great American Novel, and may have already heard he has a new band called The Romantic Comedy. His questions were very good indeed.
Guided By Voices will be performing with the “CLASSIC” lineup at Metro on September 3rd with openers Broncho and Split Single. Tickets are available here.
What were the circumstances that led you to rejoining GBV? I remember seeing you open for them at the Bowery Ballroom two years ago and joining for a couple songs, with Bob lamenting that you couldn’t join this reunion because you weren’t in the “classic lineup.” Did he always want you back in the band? Did you feel after “The Electrifying Conclusion” that the band would ever come back?
I didn’t foresee anything happening re: the band coming back in 2010. My solo band opened up the first classic lineup reunion shows in TX, by the way.
Bob & I had remained friends all along the way, & collaborated on the second Lifeguards LP in
2011. I was never trying to “get back in” the band as some have put it. They needed a guitarist for the Cincinnati show, & i happily went as a fill-in. Talks evolved from there.
Will there be more GBV dates on the horizon? Perhaps coming back to New York?
Yes, we’re touring through the US. There will be a NYC show in December- check our website for tour dates.
How did ESP Ohio come about? Is there a record (or knowing Bob, two records) on the horizon?
It was a project idea of Bob’s. He wrote the songs and enlisted my solo band, essentially, to record the music in New York. The finished and mixed music was sent to Bob, who then recorded the vocals in Dayton with Nick Mitchell engineering. Sure, they may be another ESP Ohio lp.
Can you tell us anything about the upcoming GBV album with the new lineup?
It will be a double album with lots of songs. That’s all I can tell you right now.
Although not a GBV-album, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department is regarded as one of the classic Bob albums (and one of my favorite albums ever), how did that record come together? And how did that experience compare to the Lifeguards or upcoming ESP Ohio records? I know the band has been playing “Do Something Real” but any chance “Pop Zeus” or “Tight Globes” will come back into GBV-setlists now that you’re back in the fold?
Possibly. We’ve already added T. FBI, I Am A Tree, Subspace and others on the fly while on the road. Anything’s possible with the live setlists, now.
To answer your first question here regarding Speak Kindly, Robert wrote a batch of demos with the request I record all the music. He had no stylistic instructions, just said do it up however you want to. I value that kind of implicit trust. I also wrote & recorded 4 songs instrumentally for Bob to sing over (“Pop Zeus”, “Larger Massachussetts”, “Messiahs”, and “Port Authority”). Sure, all the music was done on 4-track cassette, but I sent the mixed music down to Bob, who recorded vocals at Cro-Mag using ADAT, so its not a complete 4-track master, if you will.
Parade On is another fantastic solo record. I know your schedule is about to be extra-packed with both GBV and Nada Surf, but any chance of new solo material soon?
Thank you so much. I’ve been writing a lot and will definitely record another album soon. Surplus of material, just need to find time to finally record it.
Both Nada Surf and Guided By Voices are bands that have amassed dedicated, almost cult-y audiences, do you see a lot of crossover in the audience, or type of fan of both bands?
I’ve seen a bit of crossover in Nada Surf crowds, and some GbV fans have definitely started listening to NS whereas they hadn’t quite kept up with them before I joined.
I am also seeing some friends from NS fan world coming to GbV shows. Otherwise, sometimes there’s not much crossover there. It depends on how people first came to know each band & how they first connected with their respective musics in their lives.
How did you get involved with the Sons and Heirs?
My good friend Dave Hill invited me to a show where he opened for them, & Ravi’s wife Julie saw me in the audience & brought me backstage to meet them. We all got along swimmingly and they invited me to sit in with them occasionally. I’ve always been a huge Johnny Marr fan anyway.
I outsourced some questions to a GBV fanpage on facebook, and everyone’s asking about your rig. Can you tell us a little about your set up?
Right now its Les Paul, SG or ES 330 into my Mesa head. Pedals used include TC Electronics Alter Ego delay, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, a Boss Harmonist lent to me by friend Hank Campbell, TC Elec. Corona nano-sized chorus, Electro Harmonix Holy Grail reverb, Boss EQ, TC Elec Polytune tuner, and my fave, a handmade Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive made by Florida’s John Landgraff (r.i.p.).
Thanks for everything Doug! See you on the road soon!
Thanks a lot, Layne, and appreciate the thoughful questions!