Robert Pollard shows off new band at the Highdive

It is 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday as Chris Slusarenko speaks. He is only a few minutes away from traveling to the next city.
“We have to get up really early,” he said. “Bob is an early riser and wants to get on the road. That means we are up by 9 at the latest to get to the next city. The shows are really long and intense, and it is always hard to get up.”
The “Bob” that Slusarenko refers to is Robert Pollard, ex-leader of the indie rock band Guided by Voices. Now, Pollard, guitarist Slusarenko (who was in Guided by Voices at the end of their run) and drummer John Moen (current drummer for The Decemberists) have formed Boston Spaceships, who will be rolling into Champaign tonight.
Pollard and Guided by Voices were notorious for their pace. Forty or 50-song concerts were not unheard of, and the band released at least one album almost every year they were around.
Still, touring has been sparse since the band broke up in 2004, and his new project, Boston Spaceships, marks Pollard’s first proper tour in two years.
Boston Spaceships continues the trend of a fast pace for Pollard, at least in the studio (in 2007, he released two solo albums and countless others under pseudonyms such as Psycho & the Birds, The Takeovers and Circus Devils). For Boston Spaceships’ debut album Brown Submarine, Slusarenko said the recording process consisted of Moen and himself doing the recordings at home in Portland while Pollard would add vocals in Ohio.
The result is an album that does not sound at all pieced together but rather of an up-and-coming power pop band half their age (Pollard is 50 years old).
“With a lot of the records, they have a different levity to them,” Slusarenko said. “His solo records are a little more serious in tone. Boston Spaceships is our chance to do two-minute pop gems. There is a silliness to them, and they are a little more juvenile, just like Guided by Voices was.”
Slusarenko said these songs suited themselves well to play live, which is why Pollard was so excited to go out and tour for this record.
He said that they are also back to playing long shows. Pollard has been digging deep, performing different set lists every night with songs from his latest solo record Robert Pollard Is Off to Business, his various side projects and even reaching back to classic Guided by Voices material.
The shows are lasting more than two hours every night. There may be a reason that Slusarenko said it is hard to be up so early every day, but he said he is having a great time on tour.
“It has been incredible,” he said. “The shows have been great, and people have really been getting into it. It’s fun for me since I’m such a fanatic [of Pollard’s work].”
Boston Spaceships will be playing tonight at The Highdive, 51 E. Main St., Champaign. Doors open at 8 p.m., with opening act The High Strung taking the stage at 9.

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