Ever-youthful Guided By Voices an ongoing revival act 

click to enlarge Guided By Voices
  • Courtesy photo
  • Guided By Voices plays the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco this week to promote the album “Cool Planet.”

Although he has the ebullient stage presence, tireless work ethic and drinking stamina of a guy barely out of his teens, Robert Pollard -- frontman and sole permanent member of venerable indie-rock band Guided By Voices -- is, unbelievably, 56.

Maybe that's why he has trouble remembering which moniker is suitable for San Francisco, where the group is slated to play Wednesday.

"We love Frisco," says Pollard, who's been leading his scrappy band from Dayton, Ohio, since 1983. "I still call it Frisco. Are you allowed to do that? Do people still call it Frisco in San Francisco or is that an outdated hippie term?"

If Pollard is feeling nostalgic, he can be forgiven, as Guided By Voices is basking in glory days again. After a six-year break, in which many assumed it was dead, Pollard reformed the group in 2010 for a one-off show celebrating Matador Records' 21st anniversary.

The success of that performance -- featuring the classic 1993-96 lineup -- prompted the group to move forward. Working in customary breakneck style, Guided By Voices churned out six more albums to add to a vast catalog.

"After spending some time with these guys, I realized the chemistry was still there, that it wouldn't take much effort or extra incentive to get the creative juices flowing again. We enjoy ourselves together, even at our age and after all this time," says Pollard, who also records under his name and in an act called the Boston Spaceships.

The quintessential lo-fi band of the late 1980s and early '90s toiled in obscurity until the release of its landmark album "Bee Thousand" in 1994. Recorded with bathtub-like audio quality and with only a handful of tracks longer than two minutes, the album reflected Pollard's collection of influences, from '80s DIY bands to British invasion groups, notably The Who.

The classic lineup, responsible for the group's best known songs, offers a dichotomy, a contrast between the gregarious, booze-chugging Pollard and understated guitarist, co-songwriter Tobin Sprout.

Sprout, who is set to release his first solo album since 2010 next year, says, "Bob is great at being that flashy frontman, and I enjoy being on the side, singing harmonies and kind of staying out of the spotlight."

The group's 50-song setlist features a mix from the more recent "Cool Planet" and "Motivational Jumpsuit" and tracks from earlier eras, with a nod to "Bee Thousand."

Both Sprout and Pollard seem optimistic, yet noncommittal, about the future of the band. And even though they are getting older, Guided By Voices players exhibit no desire to grow up.

"With a band, I don't see any need for maturity," says Pollard, a former schoolteacher and college baseball player. "It can be fun and silly. A band when you think of it is kind of silly. It's a gang. A gang that plays rock."

IF YOU GO

Guided by Voices

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $35 to $38

Contacts: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com

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Will Reisman

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