Guided By Voices Reaches Into ‘Suitcase 3′ for “That’s Good”
Last year, Robert Pollard released his 100th record, Guided by Voices’ double-album August by Cake. Not to be topped, even by himself, he went on soon after to drop his 101st album, How Do You Spell Heaven, also under the GBV umbrella. In 2018, Pollard will only release one GBV album, Space Gun (although check out that dude Cash Rivers…).
Despite the fact that it’s a light year for Pollard, given his track record, Space Gun has plenty to keep fans happy, including a rework of older song, “That’s Good,” exclusively premiering today on TIDAL. Listen to that and make sure to read on for Pollard’s take on pretty songs, old music and other planets.
“That’s Good” was initially pulled from a demo on Guided by Voices’ Suitcase 3 compilation and rearranged for Space Gun. To my knowledge, this is a process that’s always worked for you, going all the way back to putting old demos and ideas together to make Bee Thousand. Do any other tunes on Space Gun have origins dating back years?
No, all the rest of the songs are brand spanking new. I had sent a couple of other Suitcase songs to the band for re-working, but I wrote new songs and decided to abandon that idea. They were ‘I’d Choose You’ and ‘Raphael.’ I was kind of of going back through the process I had adopted for Boston Spaceships albums, which was to sprinkle a few fleshed out Suitcase fragments into the mix, but then I decided to only do ‘That’s Good.’
“That’s Good” is a kind of meditative, floating track. And gorgeous. Can you tell us a bit about its origins? If you remember, that is. You’ve always had those kinds of songs alongside your rock & roll. But from what I understand, there’s been an element of self-consciousness about them. The song “Hold on Hope” comes to mind because it was seen at the time as oddly commercial for GBV, and you seemed conflicted about writing it. Have you come to terms with that song and writing in a bit more emotionally vulnerable way?
I’ve just always thought that ‘That’s Good’ was very pretty and deserved more attention and better treatment. As far as ‘Hold on Hope’ is concerned, I just always had a problem with the sentimentality of that song. It’s not that I disagree with optimism or positivity, it’s just that I didn’t like the treatment and some of the corny lines. ‘There hides the cowboy…’ that utterly sucks. I did come to terms with it, though, after I heard Glen Campbell’s version of it. I was very touched and honored by him doing it. I’ve got nothing at all against beautiful songs. You just have to be careful.
This is the only album GBV has slated for this year — yet. Why did you choose to go with one album in 2018 as opposed to 2017, which had a veritable bounty of songs?
We’re all very proud of Space Gun, so I decided to not give it any distractions or competition for the entire year of 2018 other than a couple of very minor, non-GBV studio releases. I wanna let people just chew on that one for awhile and see if it has sustaining power. Try to discipline myself and my attention span a little. We will have a double album in the can by the time Space Gun comes out, but we won’t release it until 2019.
You say that the songs just come to you. Is there a line in a song, or a whole song, that you can’t even remember the origins of? One that just appeared in your head fully formed and perfect? If so, which line or song?
Nearly the entire album is like that. It’s comprised entirely, other than ‘That’s Good,’ of lines from a notebook that I was keeping for the album. Well, actually not entirely, because I added lines and rhymes within songs to make them flow and be more cohesive and easier to add music to. The lyrics came first and that’s the way I tend to work these days. Occasionally a melody or riff will come first.
As for the title of the record, you seem pretty into space. Or at least space imagery. Boston Spaceships, etc. Why such a fascination? Also, do you ever think we will live on other planets? What kind of planet would you like to live on?
Well, I’m into futurist-retro imagery. Past, present, future. Things being cyclic. I’m into the concept of reincarnation, and it’s possible that we all live on other planets and maybe all of them, but in a different dimension. That’s why we don’t detect life on other planets because we don’t see any, but it’s maybe because it’s in a different dimension and living various lives on different planets may be part of the educational process in the evolution of souls and the progress of all living and non-living beings. Earth may be the bottom level. I like living on Earth, but it’s terrifying. It’s a big, scary school. Perhaps Venus is better. Isn’t it the planet of love? Who knows?
With additional reporting by Morgan Enos
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