GUIDED BY VOICES with SPOON at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Wednesday (April 25). $18.50. 416-466-0313.
if there's one thing robert Pollard dislikes more than frilly keyboard fills, it's sobriety. Contending with both during the recording of Guided by Voices' Do The Collapse (TVT) album with producer Ric Ocasek, in a last-ditch chart bid, left Pollard scared hitless.
With GBV's latest, Isolation Drills (TVT), the pissed-off Pollard intends to show Ocasek, and every other pencil-necked twerp who ever berated them for boozing, the awesome power of positive drinking.
He believes he performs better after hoisting a few, and the boisterously brilliant new disc makes a very good argument.
The guitars roar like never before, and mercilessly catchy Glad Girls could well be the elusive smash hit they so desperately crave.
Paradoxically enough, it's one of the most coherent collections of tunes they've ever squeezed onto one disc.
"What happened on Do The Collapse was really my fault for putting the whole project into the hands of Ric Ocasek," admits Pollard from his Dayton hacienda. "I figured he knew more than I did so whatever.
"Ric's a good guy. He just had this policy about remaining sober while recording. I disagree with that. Drinking helps me do what I do. When I'm not drinking, I'm too aware of everything going on around me and I can't lock into the song and just do what comes naturally.
"We just did a show in Jacksonville where there wasn't any time to drink before going on. We hit the stage sober and I immediately screwed up the first three or four songs. I was thinking too much about the lyrics instead of just singing them."
Pollard is convinced of the benefits of his binges, yet he does have an optimum level of intoxication where he's at his wobbly best. Once past it, there's a quick descent into stumbling, bumbling chaos.
"Yeah, we can go too far. I usually drink for a couple of hours before a gig and then continue during the show, which lasts about three hours. Believe me, five hours of steady drinking can kick your ass. I try my best to gauge it so I can make it all the way through, but sometimes I know things fall apart.
"This one guy at a paper here in Dayton just crucified me for it. He wrote a big editorial about how I had one foot in the grave, and drew comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Mama Cass. C'mon, man, I'm drinking Miller Light. I'd be doing the same thing if I were on a bowling team.
"People have made so much of our drinking that we've decided to start playing it up a bit more. It's become our religion now, and we've adopted the beer bottle as our sacred symbol. Everyone who comes to see us can join in the worship at the show."