Whenever we’ve put together anniversary issues, starting back at our fifth birthday, we’ve half-kiddingly suggested to Mike Breen that he compile an alphabetical list of all the musical acts CityBeat covered over the years. Just to show the sheer volume of local bands, touring acts, newbies and established stars we’ve interviewed, described, reviewed, slobbered over and spit on. Breen, sensing some seriousness on our part, would invariably call in sick over the following days.
A huge staff favorite back in the day was Guided By Voices, the Garage Rock outfit from Dayton led by energetic singer/songwriter Bob Pollard. They were a new generation Big Star, critical darlings ripping through two-minute Power Pop nuggets, influencing everyone but comfortable in their underground status. By the time editor John Fox had ever heard of GBV, they were breaking up.
Writer Brian Baker offered a fond farewell to Guided By Voices prior to their final show at the Southgate House in October 2004, interviewing Pollard about his writing habits, his legendary stage presence and his future plans. Baker recalled GBV’s ’80s shows at Sudsy Malone’s and their regular gigs at the Southgate House that featured a beer cooler built into their stage plot, a pee bucket behind the drums so band members could relieve themselves between songs and a comp guest list of 60 “asshole” friends from Dayton.
“You can’t keep doing things just because you’re having a good time,” Pollard offered as explanation for why he was ending Guided By Voices. “Matter of fact, that’s why you might want to stop, because you’re having too good of a time.”
Pollard wasn’t planning to stop entirely, of course. He described solo albums he’d already recorded and would be releasing, side projects he was contemplating and new songs running through his head. One door was closing, but five others were cracked open.
And that’s a microcosm of Greater Cincinnati’s music scene over the past 20 years, isn’t it? Doors close, bands break up, new combinations form, ideas sprout, talent emerges. And CityBeat is there to share it with you.
“ ‘I just want to try something else, and I don’t see where it will be drastically different as myself,’ Pollard says. ‘Some people say, “I’m so sad you guys are breaking up. Thanks for all the great years. I don’t know what I’ll do now.”
“ ‘And I’m like, you’ll hear my solo albums. I’ll be doing the same fucking thing.’ ”
Bob Pollard was true to his word, churning out album after album as a solo artist and in side projects with ex-GBV bandmates and others (Boston Spaceships, Circus Devils, etc.). He kept doing the same fucking thing, and we loved it.
Pollard did the ultimate same fucking thing in 2010 by reuniting the “classic” GBV lineup from the mid-1990s (Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell) for a one-off event that turned into a sold-out national tour. The band would release six new albums over the next four years and tour regularly, including a 2012 stop at Cincinnati’s Bunbury Festival.
Another tour was underway a few months ago when Pollard suddenly cancelled the fall dates. A notice was posted on the GBV website: “Guided By Voices has come to an end. With 4 years of great shows and six killer albums, it was a hell of a comeback run.”
Look for two solo albums and three side-project EPs before Christmas.