In the new Guided by Voices video for “Bad Love Is Easy To Do,” on the Funny or Die website, comedians Rob Corddry and Brian Huskey play a feuding version of the band’s chief songwriters, Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, respectively. They look like a gentle1960s folk duo modeled after Simon & Garfunkel and they fight like brothers. The song is a burst of saccharine guitar pop worthy of the term “classic lineup” that is being used to describe the GBV that reformed in 2010. Since reforming the band has been recording at a prolific clip that rivals their peak years in their first incarnation, releasing six full-length albums and a whole bunch of singles and EPs in four years. So really, then, how are band relations?
“Things are going well,” says Sprout, “we’ll just go with that.”
It was just about 10 years ago that Bob announced with “Half Smiles of the Decomposed” that it was to be the last GBV album. Happily, he broke that promise, and when GBV reformed you were back in the fold. Do you think there is an endpoint to Guided by Voices?
There is no endpoint now. Working on the next GBV album. We plan to record in the fall. I also have a solo coming out called “The Universe And Me.” … We are also seeing younger fans at the shows like 6 years old to 12 and 14, singing all the words! It’s really something to see that, moms and dads holding their kids, singing together.
Did you ever go to GBV shows as a spectator during the years that you weren’t in the band?
I saw pretty much every lineup. Mostly would see them when they played Grand Rapids.
When you did come back to GBV, what was the moment when you knew that it was the right thing to do?
I think it was the right thing to do when I left the band in ’96 to be home with my family. It was hard to see GBV go on without me but I’m glad I got to see my kids grow up. It feels a bit like karma that it’s gone full circle now, thanks in part to Matador [GBV’s label during their formative years].
The most powerful visual for Robert Pollard’s songwriting I’ve ever heard is that line about a suitcase full of songs, with more than 1,000 songs in it. Have you ever seen the legendary suitcase?
I saw it a long time ago, pre-CDs, some were even on small reel to reel. I remember Bob had a recorder he borrowed from his school, it sounded really good. One mic one track.
While we’re talking numbers, how many beers would you estimate that GBV has drank onstage over the years?
I have no idea! Too many to count.
Has this number decreased as the years have gone on?
I would say yes, quite a bit.
One more numbers question: How many stage prop “The Club is Open” neon signs are there or have there been? Or is it just the one and it’s survived all of these years?
I believe just one. It’s been broken and fixed a few times though. Butterfingers.