A brief chat with Guided By Voices

A brief chat with Guided By Voices image

Holden Mesk, writer for Asheville Music Guide, spoke to Guided By Voices bassist Mark Shue ahead of their show tomorrow night at The Grey Eagle. Read the full thing below!

Hi Guided By Voices! Thanks for doing this interview with Asheville Music Guide. You've been to Asheville a number of times, what's your favorite part about coming here?

We love Asheville. It’s a beautiful part of the country and we always look forward to coming through town. The shows are a blast. You guys have a lot of great record stores too.

Your most recent album Space Gun came out back in March, what was the process like recording that album?

Our recording process can vary from record to record, but we mostly always start with boombox demos. Bob wrote and recorded the Space Gun demos at home on his boombox using an acoustic guitar and vocals. We worked up the instrumentation and recorded the music with our engineer Travis Harrison at his studio in Brooklyn, New York. Bob recorded his vocals with Travis in Dayton, Ohio, and we mixed back in Brooklyn. We all had a lot of fun working on this one. 

What's your favorite song from Space Gun and why?

It’s tough to choose just one. It changes day to day. Right now, I think my favorite is "Gray Spat Matters". It a short heavy-hitting number that’s got this really great hooky vocal melody that leads the chord structure along. It’s a lot of fun to play live.

With an impressive 100+ albums and 2000+ songs under the band's belt, what's some advice you'd give to other musicians who may be aspiring to get up to those kind of numbers one day?

I look to a few of Bob Pollard’s titles for some sage advice in that department: "Keep It in Motion" and "Don’t Stop Now". I’m constantly in awe of the amount of amazing songs coming out of one person. There are whole universes there. That creative energy is invigorating and infectious. It’s definitely inspired me and informed my own approach to making music. All of us in the band are driven and inspired by that kind of energy, and share in that hunger to always be creating and moving forward. Something I’ve observed with Bob’s songwriting process is that it flows freely and constantly. He doesn’t let anything obstruct the creative process. It’s always in motion. If he’s not actively with a guitar writing a song, he’ll be jotting down lyric and song title ideas in his notebook, or reading books, watching films, listening to records, or hunting for materials for his next collage. Song titles and ideas often come from things in everyday life. My takeaway from this is that inspiration is all around us, if we keep our eyes and ears open to it. It feeds the process. Keep it in motion. It’s too much fun.

Speaking of the band's history, what's the most memorable show you've played that has stuck with you throughout the years? 

There are so many memorable shows. We just played the Grog Shop in Cleveland a few weeks ago and it was wild. 

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals that get you in the headspace of performing live?

We do have a bit of a pre-show routine. It usually involves hanging out as a band and tossing back a few delicious ice cold bottled beverages, stretching the limbs out a bit, and writing out the setlists. Writing the set is a big part of our pre-show ritual. For every new album that we tour behind, Bob will create a master list that we pull from for that tour. Often times we’ll add and subtract songs along the way, to change things up. The setlist changes every night, and no two shows are the same.

What's your favorite part about touring and going to all these different cities? 

Touring is a blast. We have a good time together. We’ve gotten into a rhythm where we’ll often go out on the road for chunks at a time, and hit different regions on each run. In the states alone, getting a taste of the distinct regional vibes in each city is a trip. When we have time to spare, we always like to find great local record stores too. We have some favorites scattered around the country that we always try to make time to hit. Our fans are great. It’s always fun seeing familiar faces and die-hard fans in each city and it’s great seeing new fans in the audience who might be coming out for the first time.

What's been the best food/restaurant you've ever gotten/been to while out on the road?

There are a lotta memorable hits. We dig a good red-sauce joint. One somewhat recent experience that sticks out was last October in San Pedro, California. We were out there playing the Growlers Fest. After our set, we stumbled on this Italian restaurant called Neil’s. I must have been kind of late at night, because we sort of had the place to ourselves. Neil’s was outstanding and the food was insane. That was a real spot hitter. 

Who've you all been listening to lately and what do you recommend? 

We love hitting record shops together when we’re on the road and we’re always listening to stuff in the van as well. There are favorite staples, like Wire, the Who, Queen, Devo, Beatles, etc. Bob makes these great compilation CDs, which are burned from his personal record collection, and those are some of my favorites. One of them is the Iodine Book Report, which is a multi-part compilation of rare psych band from the late 60s and early 70s. I think those are all up on the internet now to check out. They’re awesome. There’s a multi-part comp called Happy Pills, and Bob made a Happy Pills comp for each decade. 80s Happy Pills has a lot of great power pop nuggets from bands like the dBs, Hoodoo Gurus, the Cyclones, the Mice, the Shoes, and others. Doug is into a cool podcast called Come to the Sunshine, which is hosted by Andrew Sandoval, and focuses on 60s sunshine pop nuggets. There’s a series of compilation LPs that have come out recently called Brown Acid. Acid rock and proto-metal and pre-stoner rock nuggets. We have been digging those too. 

Lastly, what do you want to tell the people of Asheville before they come to see you at The Grey Eagle on May 11th? 

Bring all of your friends and have a killer wig-out! We’re really looking forward to the show. See you there!

Image Credits: 

Header image provided by Tell All Your Friends PR