A brief word about a shaggy if not objectively terrible interview. This sit-down took place in October 26, 1995 just after load-in at The Embassy in London, on the afternoon after the band’s Ontario debut at Toronto’s Phoenix. Opening for Urge Overkill, Guided by Voices’ lead singer Bob Pollard was hauled out of the venue when he attempted to favour the vocal GbV fans in attendance with an encore. That tour pairing dissolved not long after. London was the band’s second headlining date in Canada (their first east of the Rockies) and something like the hundredth live show they had ever played outside of their native Ohio, but while many lo-fi bands were never able to equal their basement recordings, GbV was already in top form as a forceful and entertaining live act. The band first grabbed critical recognition with 1993’s Vampire on Titus but within two years had dropped two classic albums: 1994’s Bee Thousand and 1995’s Alien Lanes, the latter their first on a major indie label. Just as those albums spooled out improbable micro-anthems steeped in speaker hiss and tape warble, GbV itself remained cloaked in mystique. (Pre-Pitchfork, pre-Google, pre-mainstream internet, the band at that point had little media profile outside of regional zines, a fact reflected in the conversation’s scrap-book of tangents.)
Though I later cannibalized the tape for a print profile, I never aired the chat in its day. It’s shared here as an historical curiosity.
Even still, their their songwriting talent and power as a live band remained undeniable. As a GbV fan, I looked forward to speaking with Tobin Sprout, one of the band’s principal songwriters and the four-track alchemist behind Alien Lanes. And of course I was mortified when things went pear-shaped on the day. I lost my notebook en route to the venue, had technical glitches with the recorder, and ended up improvising from memory (which was fallible: among other sins, I name-checked “Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox” rather than the audio collage “Back to Saturn X Radio Report”). Though I later cannibalized the tape for a print profile, I never aired the chat in its day. It’s shared here as an historical curiosity.
- David Young
Safer Gigs is a Hamilton based organization. We set up resource booths at events to help reduce the risk of harm in our music communities. Our goal is to stop overdose and sexual assault before it happens. Read more here.