Guided by Voices has always been about the act of accumulation, whether it's musical styles, dozens of band members and albums, or the wisdom of being a cult indie-rock act for the last 20 years.
The Dayton, Ohio, group has released sixth full-lengths and numerous singles and EPs since 2012 — just a couple years after leader Robert Pollard reconvened the band's "classic" 1990s lineup for a Matador Records anniversary party in Las Vegas.
The band's diehard fans are plentiful and randomly spread — White House press secretary Jay Carney introduced their Washington, D.C., show last week by calling them "the greatest rock band in the world" — so it's with a sense of full-circle satisfaction that Pollard recently tweaked that "classic" lineup for a new album and tour.
"Cool Planet," which was recorded during the Buckeye winter and released on May 13, showcases a more aggressive GBV with returning late-period drummer Kevin March and Pollard's usual Midwestern foils: singer-guitarist Tobin Sprout, guitarist Mitch Mitchell and bassist Greg Demos.
The accumulated experience of the band finds it playing shows with set lists of 50-plus songs, which dwarfs some bands' entire catalogs. We caught up with Pollard via e-mail to chat about the latest incarnation of the group, which plays the Gothic Theatre on June 4.
Q: Keeping in mind that GBV has always been you and whoever you want in the band at the time, what do you think the strengths are of the current lineup?
A: The strengths are mainly the original characters or personalities of the so-called classic line-up. The names and faces that the hardcore fans can identify with. You come out to see a show, you're still looking at and listening to that lineup. That chemistry. And Kevin March adds a spark to that chemistry.
Q: Do you calibrate your famously energetic stage performances (including your Who-quality mic twirls and high kicks) for club and theater shows versus shorter festival sets?
A: Well, obviously in a 45-60 minute set you play what you would anticipate to be the crowd favorites. In all honesty, it's somewhat difficult to get warmed up, physically, during a set that short. In a club show, we'll play close to two-and-a-half hours. However, we do not pace ourselves for that duration. It's "all out" for the entire length of the show. It's always been that way and still is. Barring injury or pass-out.
Q: The 20th anniversary of your breakthrough album "Bee Thousand" is this summer. Is there any one aspect of that album that has stuck out to you over the years in terms of explaining why it's such an indie- rock classic?
A: I think it was the culmination of so many constituents that I had gathered from the 10 or 15 years leading up to "Bee Thousand." Old lyrics and melodies re-imagined and re-worked over new riffs and chord progressions. A similar process to the collage-making process (note: Pollard is a respected visual artist who shows his collages at galleries around the country). A lot of reassembling of old material and new material. We threw a lot of ingredients into the pot and came up with something that was pretty special to a lot of people. I did not anticipate that.
John Wenzel: 303-954-1642, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johnwenzel
GUIDED BY VOICES. Midwestern indie-rock juggernauts, with opener Bobby Bare Jr. 8 p.m. June 4 at the Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway in Englewood. $27.50-$35. 303-789-9206 or axs.com.