"Look, I’m really sorry about this but, the tour manager didn’t tell the guys they were being interviewed today so you’ve got Nate and Tim."

Nate Farley (guitar) and Tim Tobias (bass) squeeze into the booth opposite me, clutching cigarettes and bottles of beer with a mixture of dishevelled jocularity and crazed need. I couldn’t have planned it better. Hardly a serious word passed between us…

"Fuckin’ tour managers" drawls Tim with a faux sneer as he and Nate look at each other and laugh.

Two fifths of Guided By Voices have had long trek from Ohio, and exhausted from touring to promote their thirteenth album 'Universal Truths and Cycles'. Starting out with the Reading and Leeds festivals, through Europe, they’re back in London again wondering how the hell they survived the gruelling time schedule.

"Beer and cigarettes. We drank a lot of wine. We’re going home and going to rehab. (Tim splutters over his drink in giggles) Rehab’s for quitters!"

Guided By Voices, renowned for their drinking prowess seem indignant when I ask them who they’ve drunk under the table…

"Everyone!"

… As if I’d dare question their ale quaffing ability? Cue more hysterical spluttering when I ask if they’ve ever done a show sober.

Tim practically projectiles beer from his nose as he laughs:
"God No! That would be horrible…."

They’re literally about to go onstage as we’re talking and I’m suspicious as to how they’re going to cope being so tired n’all.

"We’re fine. The stage will change everything – we could be dead and we get on stage and come back to life."

Guided By Voices have a twenty year history of longevity and you get the feeling these guys could get through pretty much anything with their unkempt charm and a Miller. Regularly name-checked by the media-courted Strokes and Jimmy Eat world, they gave the Strokes their first tour as support.

"The Strokes are friends of ours, I had no idea how huge they were ‘til we came back over here last year."

Guided By Voices though are finished with their stint on US major label TVT. Now resigned to Matador they’re clearly more at ease with the freedom you get from a smaller label.

"We tried the major label thing out. We stuck our toe in the water but it comes down to having more control over your own destiny. They’ll tell you that you have your creative freedom but…"

Although the band admit they learnt a lot from working with the larger producers and took that experience into the studio with them for this album, they’re still not willing to concede on what they want to produce. So, they’re trying to tell me they’re not after huge success and acclaim?

"It’d be wonderful, as long as there’s not a lot of compromise. Hell yeah!"

A lot of bands say though, that major success and acclaim might dent their creativity.

"They’re full of shit."

"Yeah! They’re wrong!"

Critics and fans alike have said that their resigning to Matador has sent the band back to their roots and the guys seem happy with the direction of the new album.

"I like this one. Although actually I liked 'Isolation Drills' too, I think the songs are really sour. It’s always like saying which kid you like best. The latest one’s always my favourite."

Tim motions for another beer as we talk touring and showbiz anecdotes, although the guys say they don’t have any and keep what they do know close to their chest.

"I can’t remember any. Our brains are fried up. In two weeks I’ll remember everything. Right now I can’t remember the last question you asked!’

"Come on guys! Haven’t you got anything wild to say? What about memories of this tour then? You gotta give me something!"

And then they hit me with it. Apparently the next album’s already finished. We haven’t got much time left but just enough for Tim to add between gulps of beer;

"It’s got really, really good songs. My brother’s gonna help us produce it again like he did 'Universal Truths'. There you go, then that will be my new favourite!"

The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Matthew Williams













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