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Drinking Beers with Bob Pollard
Tale From A Fanboy

Rock and roll is a myth, but it's a great myth. All the great bands have or had a certain mythic allure or story that becomes part of the listening and appreciation experience. Most people's lives are boring and it's fun to jump into another universe. You need a method of understanding the madness that is the world around us and I'm not one for religion, so music becomes my method of choice, and the rock and roll show is my church. There is something very transcendent about the communal sing along, the pumping of a beer clenched fist in the smoke filled air, the cyclical energy that is passed from performer to viewer and back again, creating a feeling that for that moment in time, everything is ok.

Being a huge Guided By Voices fan I was ecstatic upon hearing that I was going to the Shout magazine sponsored Brooklyn brewery party, to hang out with Bob Pollard. Shout had a contest where they picked five winners to hang out with Bob at the brewery. I had already entered the contest 5 times under various aliases and didn't win, so I was pleasantly surprised that I was still going to make it.

Like most people I first got hooked on the band with their classic Bee Thousand album and listened to it everyday on my way to and from my shitty temp job one summer. I've slowly become one of those freakish obsessed Bob Pollard fans since. I feel like a junky looking for his next fix of pop heaven, jonesing for a fix that will recapture that initial first rush of sonic delight. You are almost guaranteed that every GBV release no matter how shitty it is, will have a few moments of pure greatness that transcends most current bands today. Those moments of greatness are sometimes sandwiched between noisy fragmented seemingly off the cuff excursions but that's ok, thats part of the pleasure, the hunting and the thrill of excitement of delving deep and finding these nuggets of goodness.

So here I am, standing with my two friends at the Brooklyn brewery anxiously awaiting the band to arrive. My friends and I stand around sipping our beer, exchanging mundane conversation when GBV walks in very nonchalantly. I must admit I felt very nervous, but once I saw the looks on the bands' faces and noticed their demeanor, they seemed just as nervous. Now I don't know if it was just that I was feeling like a 14 year old girl or that this was all taking place in ultra-cool Williamsburg, but everyone else in the place just kept talking amongst themselves and carrying on. Ill admit I self-consciously tried to keep my cool as well, you don't wanna seem like a big fanboy dork in a situation like this when you know in fact you totally are. My nerves semi-resided and for the next 30 minutes my three friends and I just kind of followed the band around like you would follow your parents at the mall when you were younger, you don't wanna get to close cause that's just not cool. Since I was the biggest fan of the bunch my friends kept egging me on to go up and say something. By this point Bob was engaged in conversation with a very young attractive brunette and her two homely friends. Now, I fucking love GBV, they have provided me with much joy, but this girl was really hot and and I noticed that I was starring at her ass incessantly. There was a bit of time where I could care less if GBV was there as long as this lovely mound of love pudding was trapped in a tight pair of denim. While me and my cronies were in the process of actually moving to the other side of the room (but still very close to Bob, perspective is good) this hot girl with the great ass bumps into me, we both say were sorry and move along, injury averted.

Bob is now talking to some bespecled nerdy indie kids so my friends and I continue drinking our beer and conversing and wondering when we should make our move to make conversation with Bob, planning like one would when contemplating a troup movement in a game of risk. It's at this point that the brewery tour commences and the winners of the contest and a few other people (including me) funnel into the brewery room. Everyone gathers around a young outgoing fratboyish guy who begins to give us the Brooklyn brewery history and other boring details about beer that no one seemed to care about. Keeping with my M.O of the evening, I planted myself right in back of Bob and the guys in the band. By this time I was fairly intoxicated and a very nice woman from matador records kept coming by and filling our cups with beer. Very nice touch. I began to wonder if she was just being nice, or maybe she was Bob's personal beer roadie.

I'm not nervous at this point, I'm drunk and sweaty. The brewery room was very humid and hot and nobody really seemed to care about what the fratboy beer guide had to say. I realize that GBV are just a bunch of dorky guys and the bass player might be insane. He just kept laughing and bumping into Bob and his eyes oozed alcohol. Guitarist Doug Gillard seems like the quite introspective one, he just kinda hung back a bit with his lady. One of the contest winners wife asked me if I knew where the brewery buys their hops. Why she thought I would know this and why she just didn't ask the fratboy is anyone's guess, Who the fuck really cares anyway!?

The brewery tour is now over and we end up outside the brewery getting some fresh air. My friends and I are now as close as we've been all night to actually saying something to Bob. I nervously approach him and tap him on the shoulder, "hey,... my names george.. im a big fan". Pretty original line eh? I then unload a question that I had planted in my head for weeks. Man this one was a gem, It was a real nerdy fan comment about how this bridge of a song on the new album was actually from a different song he wrote like 15 years ago. He complimented me on catching this miniscule detail. I felt like a rock dork god. My buddy then asks Bob what his favorite football team is and without flinching Bob responds "Ohio State, and I'm talking real football, none of this soccer shit!." We all laugh and then Bob says to my friends "hey, you guys look familiar". Mmmmm... maybe its because we were just following you around from afar the whole time in the bar! Circling like vultures over a fresh carcass. My friends shrug and say they have never met before. I ask Bob for a quick picture when my buddy accidentally hits the timer button on the camera, so Bob and my other friend and I standing there like idiots holding a pose for what seemed like an eternity but was only 15 seconds. The flash finally goes off, we shake hands, Bob asks if were going to the show, we reply "yeah" then his assistant sweeps him away to a car off to the venue for the show at Irving Plaza. I felt like I had just relieved myself of a massive piss I was holding in a cross-country car ride. We finally did it, and I felt silly for making it a big deal.

-- George Koelle

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | September 2002 | Issue 30
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