This Wednesday at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, indie rock O.G.’s Guided By Voices will take the stage in celebration of their latest release, Space Gun. The album is the 25th from the band since their debut Devil Between My Toes in 1987. Leading up to the show, N.J. Racket was given the unique opportunity to interview Mark Shue, Guided By Voices’ bassist for their previous three albums and member of the live band since its inception in 2016. The interview was conducted by Eric Truchan, the drummer of New Jersey band Secretary Legs and a true Guided By Voices and Robert Pollard super fan. Eric has his own blog in which is a song by song review of every Robert Pollard song ever, which, as you would guess, is an unbelievable amount of music.
From Eric’s own review of Space Gun, posted to An Earful O’Wax: Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard Song By Song Review, “Space Gun is further studio progression in the new life that pulsates through the ultimate band, keeping it in motion; behold the mighty Guided by Voices. Back from their possibly best sounding studio LP, How Do You Spell Heaven, the newest LP is another exercise in high kicks, and top notch production courtesy of recording engineer Travis Harrison. Harrison was also at the helm for the sonic bombast of ESP Ohio’s Starting Point... along with much of August By Cake.”
You guys just kicked off the [Space Gun] tour this past Friday night?
That’s right, Friday night in Ann Arbor [MI] at The Blind Pig.
And Saturday night in Indianapolis?
Yeah. Great show.
It’s been short but how is the Space Gun tour going so far?
Oh it’s been great man. It’s been a lot of fun playing all of these new songs. It’s kind of an entirely new set from we had done last year.
I see a lot of people online are already posting pictures of the set list, and the pictures from up front at the stage. If I’m not mistaken, are you guys playing the Space Gun in its entirety?
Yeah, that is correct. We’re playing all the songs from the new album. Plus a bunch of other deep cuts (laughs).
I see a lot of hidden gems in there so far. Some stuff from Circus Devils, Boston Spaceships…
Yes, that is correct.
So when you guys were working on the new record, was it pretty much set in stone? Any outtakes that are gonna one day show up on Suitcase 5 (Suitcase are GBV box sets of 100 previously unreleased songs from over the years. There are currently 4 collections)?
(laughs) Yeah, this record was pretty much set in stone. Bob [Pollard] had this batch of songs written and already sequenced going into it. We knew it was a very concise record from the start.
I originally heard rumors that it was going to be a double LP. Was there any truth to that when starting, or just fans getting their hopes up?
Actually, there is a double LP that we just finished recording. That one’s going to be out next year. I think there was originally talk that Space Gun could’ve been a double LP, but the next one… the next one is!
Mark, how did you come about joining Guided by Voices?
Oh man. It kind of happened naturally. I had been in bands for years. Big fan and admirer of the band and Bob’s music. I think years ago, 10 or so years ago, I met Bob at one of Bob’s art openings in New York, which is where I live. We kept in touch and I would always go see the shows and stuff. Doug Gillard [GBV guitarist] who is also based in New York, about 5 or so years ago I started playing bass in his solo band. We actually ended up opening a couple shows for the “classic” [GBV lineup] reunion tours. From there, there was talking amongst us about doing some kind of band together. ESP Ohio kind of came together out of that, which is Bob, Doug, myself and Travis Harrison, our engineer and also a great drummer. So we started doing that, and at around the same time Bob started talking about touring again. From there it just sort of organically became GBV.
Are you still playing music with Beech Creeps at all?
I am! We play every now and again, here and there. I guess in the wintertime when GBV’s not touring, we’ll play a show or two. I also have a band called Chomper that put out a record in November, and that’s with guys from the band The Men, and we did some shows back in the fall.
I know you mentioned Travis Harrison. The records he’s worked on for you guys sound fantastic…. I was lucky enough to be at the Asbury Park show that GBV just released as the live LP Ogre’s Trumpet and even that sounds amazing coming off the board! How did you guys start working with Travis?
Travis had done some work with Doug Gillard in the past and had been in bands for a long time. He knew Bob over the years too. I met him when he used to host a thing called “Breakthrough Radio” and I was in a band at the time called The Library is on Fire, and we did one of those sessions with him years ago. I think that’s where I first met him. But he’s always been such a great engineer over the years and I think his intuition and instincts are right in line with Bob’s a lot of the time. And working with him enables us to do things really quickly too which is great, as we all kind of work at the same pace.
I know you said earlier for Space Gun it’s going to be the only GBV record for 2018. How did you guys decide on that being the definitive lone LP based on Pollard’s track record of multiple LPs a year, especially in recent GBV years?
(laughs) Well that decision was really Bob’s and I think he really felt confident in this record. Really proud of it, and I know all of us are. We felt like it could stand alone. And it needed to. It needed to stand alone. We really wanted to be able to focus on it…. And really let the fans focus on it as the one.
Yeah it definitely feels like if this is going to be your “one and done” affair for the year, you guys knocked it out of the park with that.
(laughs) Oh, thanks…
So, you guys are going to be in Jersey City at White Eagle Hall this upcoming Wednesday. Has GBV had any experience in Jersey City? Shit, I don’t even know if there was a place to play in the past for GBV?
You know. I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.
(later research showed GBV did play a live WFMU set back in the summer of 1999)
Yeah, back in the day you had Maxwell’s for the area more so than Jersey City. Have you been to White Eagle Hall personally?
No, no but I’ve heard really great things about it! We’ve talked to some friends who have played there and they love it. Really looking forward to it.
Can you spill the beans on any potential or upcoming “Bob” related projects that he might have in the works, or do we have to keep waiting for the internet announcements?
Well, I know that there’s a new Cash Rivers (Pollard’s “country” alter-ego). There’s a double one coming out sometime later in the year. That’s definitely something to look forward to. It’s got, uh, 69 songs! (laughs) Yeah, and then we’ve got the double GBV on the way for next year.
Have you guys given a name to the new one yet, or still in the ever changing stages of naming it?
Um, yes. There is a name for it at the moment. But I’m not sure if the beans have been spilled on that yet so I don’t want to jump the gun on it.
Thanks so much for taking the time Mark!
Oh yeah totally. Yeah, we’re really looking forward to coming to Jersey City! Thank you so much.
Tickets for the show can still be purchased HERE!