Matt Carlson is known locally for his singer/guitarist work in The Stick Arounds, and his solo. project, Harborcoat, expanded his rock ’n roll workload when he founded Phonophore Records. Even through the pandemic, the newly launched label has kept busy with a series of releases. Back in April, the imprint released a dynamic 28-track tribute to Guided By Voices — a legendary, lo-fi indie-rock outfit led by the prolific Robert Pollard.
Carlson chatted with City Pulse about “All Good Kids - A Tribute to Guided By Voices.” Here’s what he had to say about the freshly issued compilation that features a wide range of Midwest bands, including a laundry list of Michigan-based outfits. Friday (May 20), Carlson’s bands The Stick Arounds and Harborcoat both perform at The Avenue Café.
Whose idea was the Guided By Voices (GBV) covers record?
Matt Carlson: This was all me. I’m the guy to blame for this thing. I’d been pondering the idea of a tribute record for a while. I had a few artists that I seriously considered for the idea, but I just kept getting pulled back into Guided By Voices.
Why did you pick GBV?
First, because they’re one of my favorite bands. I also knew a bunch of disparate bands in the Michigan music scene who were GBV fans of one stripe or another. The second benefit of choosing GBV is the sheer mass of songs from which to choose. Their catalog is literally thousands of songs and growing on an almost daily basis, and that isn’t even counting Robert
Pollard’s solo records and side projects. Despite the massive amount of material to choose from, there is also a huge sonic spectrum in the GBV canon. Pollard is known to say that GBV traffics in “The Four Ps” — pop, psych, prog and punk. GBV have so many amazing songs that there are a bunch of tunes that fans would consider “hits” that aren’t even on this release. That’s a rare thing.
How did you first discover GBV?
My drummer and dear friend Joel “Kernel” Kuiper spent something like a full year, 2004, I think, trying to turn me into a GBV disciple. I dug what I had heard, but I just wasn’t taking the time to try and dive in. So, Kernel gave me a comp called “Human Amusements at Hourly Rates.” At first, I was attracted to a few of the catchier and “produced” songs. Then, after a few more listens I was fascinated by this weird wizard in Dayton, Ohio. Once I figured out how great the songs were, the more I fell in love with the DIY aspect of many of their records. These were guys just pumping out loads of amazing songs — made on everything from high end studio gear to a boombox cassette deck.
Genre-wise, how would you describe the tracklist on your tribute?
Eclectic certainly seems like an accurate descriptor of this comp. There’s indie rock, pop, noise rock, punk, goth
and more on this thing. Some of the versions on this release are somewhat faithful to the original, but it truly felt like there was an individual stamp by each band on the comp. Every band inserted their own personality into their song.
I know you can’t pick one favorite, but what are a few tracks you think people should check out?
The Ladyship Warship version of “Hot Freaks” just kills me every time I hear it. I love that they turned it into a duet. The whole thing slinks along with these vague but lascivious lyrics, and it just works so damned well. It is a perfect example of so many songs on this comp that are played with great personality.
Also, my dear friend David Baldwin, who plays with me in Harborcoat, released a song under his pseudonym Teutonosaur. I could be wrong, but I think this is the first official release of David’s career with him as the front-person. His version of “The Best of Jill Hives” is just beautiful. Singing along with Dave when it plays makes me happy.
Our only non-Midwest entry on the comp was my new friend Kevin Robertson from Scotland. I met Kevin virtually and became very fond of the band he shares with his son, Scott, called Vapour Trails. I reached out to Kevin since I knew he was a GBV fan. He and Scott came up with a gorgeous version of “14 Cheerleader Coldfront.” That’s just two voices and a pair of acoustic guitars. It was great to grow the Phonophore family across the Atlantic.
Stream “All the Good Kids” at phonophorerecords.bandcamp.com.
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