If you require an introduction to Robert Pollard, perhaps you should concentrate on the restaurant reviews. The most famous ex-fourth grade teacher in Dayton has been spending his “retirement” from Guided By Voices pretty much like his fans expected he would: releasing a string of solo/band project albums, further adding to Rock’s most voluminous and complex genealogy of all time. After having done just two shows last year, Pollard is hitting the road for a regular tour with his first full-fledged post-GBV band, Boston Spaceships. (The band’s MidPoint appearance at the Southgate House, which Pollard cites as his “favorite venue in the country,” is the first night of their tour.)
In typical Pollard fashion, this comes just as Circus Devils, his project with Todd Tobias, gears up for a new release late next month. Oh, and his new solo album, Crawling Distance, will be out early next year. Pollard also enters the world of publishing with his new book, Town of Mirrors, a collection of his intriguing collages that have graced the covers of his various recordings over the years.
With so many entries in his day planner, it’s hard to believe that Pollard has any time left to merely talk about them. But he found a couple of moments to take a breather and discuss his current activities (and his hopes for the Bengals this season).
Robert Pollard: So are you ready for the Bengals?
CityBeat: We’re ready every year. Let’s just hope the Bengals are ready.
RP: We’ve had our share of frustrations, but this’ll be the year.
CB: Well, this is the year for Boston Spaceships.
RP: We’re embarking on a three-quarters U.S. tour. We’re not doing the West Coast, it’s too far. This is actually the first extensive tour I’ve done since Guided By Voices. It’s the three members of the recording entity, which is Chris Slusarenko and John Moen and myself. And we’ve got Tommy Keene and Jason Narducci again, and these guys are all touring-loving, fun-loving partiers, so I think we’ll have a good time.
CB: What was the evolution of Boston Spaceships?
RP: I do these collaborations where people send me music and I put lyrics and melodies over the music, and I did a couple of albums with Chris and John — we were called The Takeovers. I’d gotten kind of worn out doing these collaborations, and I said, “I like these two records we did, but let’s wrap up The Takeovers because I’m too busy.” But I had this batch of songs that I sent to them to record and they came out so good, I said, “Why don’t we just make this officially a band?” I’m not quite sure what that means, to tell you the truth, but I guess it means we actually tour and I consider this to be my new band, like Guided By Voices. We have another album in the can and I’ve given them demos for the third album, so our goal is to put out three albums a year like The Beatles.
CB: Well, of course it is.
RP: It’s ridiculous, but for the last three or four years I’ve put out five or six albums a year. I know some people have a problem with that but I can’t stop myself and it’s what I do. The only thing that hinders me in that respect is how long it takes for the factory to press it or the schedule for a distributor or I’d probably put out more records than that.
CB: What’s the difference between Boston Spaceships and GBV and what you’ve done beyond that?
RP: I didn’t really want to be in a band, but this is fun and it allows me to revert to more of a juvenile way of thinking. I can still do my solo thing as a 50-year-old, and I can be a little more mature and thought-out and this can be my Rock band. Maybe it’s ridiculous to be 50 and have a Rock band, but it’s fun. I’ve opened three avenues for songs for Boston Spaceships: I write new songs for it, I go back through tapes and find old songs that never made records and work on those and we use anything from Suitcase 1 and 2 that were in demo form with just me playing acoustic that I feel now didn’t get what they deserved and should have been full band songs.
CB: So will you have anything special planned for the first show here?
RP: What do you mean “special?” It’s always special playing a show for Dan (McCabe). I read an interview he did when Guided By Voices broke up, and he said, “Guided By Voices is broken up, but he’ll be back here with 60 assholes and a piss bucket.” I don’t have 60 assholes anymore because a lot of my friends, we’ve gone separate ways. There won’t be quite as many assholes. But there will still be a piss bucket.
ROBERT POLLARD AND BOSTON SPACESHIPS play the MidPoint Music Festival Thursday at the Southgate House at 10 p.m.