The indie-rock heroes are back on the road and pumping out albums, just as they did in the old days.
In the four years since the band’s reunion gig here, Guided by Voices has issued six albums, two in the past five months. Oh, and there was one EP in there, too.
In other words, things are back to the freakishly prolific norm for the Dayton, Ohio, quintet — a guitar-twisting lo-fi garage-pop band that can make even above-average fans feel way behind on its records.
“I have trouble keeping track of them all, too,” guitarist Tobin Sprout admitted by phone from the road last month, just a few days into a summer tour that lands Sunday at Rock the Garden.
It actually took GBV a couple of years to get back up to hyper-speed. The group’s indie-iconic frontman, Robert Pollard, who had gone solo for a few years, initially reassembled Sprout and other members of the band’s “classic” 1993-96 lineup to play Matador Records’ 21st anniversary bash in 2010. As Sprout recalled it, the band “didn’t really have any plan” to continue rolling.
“Since we were doing the one show, we decided to tack on a few others, so it became a tour,” he recalled. “That went so well we decided to do the first album. And from there, we just thought, ‘Why stop?’ ”
The band did put a temporary halt to touring, however. It spent most of 2012-13 off the road — at least one sign that the members aren’t the spry, young, overactive rockers they used to be. Their reluctance to cram into a van, however, actually helped them become studio workhorses again.
“We had the time to sit back and make a few albums and really get things flowing,” Sprout said. “It was only with these last two albums we really felt like it’s time to tour again.”
The two he referred to are “Motivational Jumpsuit,” a wham-bam, 20-song effort issued in February, and “Cool Planet,” a more diverse and textured collection that arrived last month. Four songs from the latter album were written and sung by Sprout, who issued some diehard-fan-adored solo albums in his time away from GBV.
“I really wasn’t sure if we were going to do ‘Cool Planet,’ so in the meantime I had been working on my own record,” he said. At least one of his contributions, “Ticket to Hide,” was a surprise inclusion, he noted with a laugh, “because I wasn’t really finished with it.”
“Bob usually has the last say on what goes where and what the arrangements of the songs will be, but he’s open to us all pitching in songs. Even [newly re-added drummer] Kevin Marks has a B-side.”
Both albums were issued via the band’s own label, GBV Inc. “We’ve learned how to do most of the work ourselves fairly well, so why involve other people?” Sprout said.
They’ve gotten a little wiser about touring, too.
“We used to party before the shows, during the shows and after the shows,” he said. “Now, we pretty much hold off until show time and then head out quickly after the show.”
At least one other well-known GBV trait has stayed the same, though: The band still takes the stage with a cooler full of cheap beer, a sign of its working-man character — and of how long and arduous its live shows often are.
“Yeah, the cooler is still there,” Sprout confirmed. “There just isn’t as much coming out of it as there used to be.”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658