On my last review, which was of GBV’s “Propeller”,
I said it was the most important album the band has released,
for many reasons.
And I’m sure many fans and Bob would probably agree.
But as far as the non-GBV albums which Bob has released,
I believe Circus Devils “Ringworm Interiors” is the most important,
something I’m sure many fans would disagree with,
but I stand behind that statement.
The album was the first collaboration between Robert Pollard and Todd Tobias.
A collaboration that would result in thirteen more Circus Devils albums,
and three Guided By Voices albums, “Universal Truths and Cycles” 2002,
“Earthquake Glue” 2003 and “Half Smiles of the Decomposed” 2004.
Tobias also produced and performed most, if not all of the instruments
on eighteen of Robert Pollard’s solo albums, starting with 2004’s “Fiction Man”
all the way up to “Faulty Superheroes” in 2015.
Along with two albums and an ep with Pollard as “Psycho and the Birds,”
Todd played bass with Ricked Wicky on three albums.
Actually “Ringworm Interiors” isn’t really a collaboration,
Todd’s brother, Tim, when he was bass player for Guided By Voices,
gave Bob a recording he had made with his Multi-Instrumentist/Producer brother.
Bob took the recording and added vocals to it
and “Ringworm Interiors” was born.
Guided By Voices fans were pretty shocked by this album,
especially those newer fans who jumped aboard with “Do The Collapse.”
“Ringworm Interiors” combines Thrash Metal with Electronic, Prog, Punk,
Ambient, Noise, Space Rock and whatever else that sticks.
I thought “Do The Collapse” and “Isolation Drills” were great albums
because we finally got to hear what GBV sounded like with a real studio
But what we lost in turn were those weird, kind of “Out There” moments
you would run across on earlier GBV albums and eps.
Those “Out There” moments are there in spades on “Ringworm Interiors.”
I grew up a fan of Ralph Records, especially The Residents and
the early weird pre-Warner Bros. recordings of Devo and their “Sound of Things Falling Apart,”
as they called it.
I was also, at a time, a fan of Progressive Rock and Electronic Music.
So Circus Devils was right up my alley.
But unlike the Residents and Devo, even though Pollards voice was recorded
using different effects, his voice was rarely “Cartoonish” or “Unhuman sounding.”
The music would have sound effects and drones you would find on
old Electronic Music recordings, but instead of lasting for full album sides,
they would last within a song.
Part of the fun of this album is things come and go rather quickly.
There are real songs here like, “Buffalo Spiders,” “Star Peppered Wheat Germ,”
the Syd Barrett sounding, “Let’s Go Back To Bed.”
There are even some ballads, “Apparent The Red Angus” and “You First”, for example.
Perhaps some wouldn’t call them ballads because they are kinda weird and Progish,
but for Circus Devils I consider them ballads.
“New You (You Can See and Believe)” sounds like a live recording,
look it up on YouTube and you will find a live video from the bands
1981 “Sterility Megaplant Tour.”
(Yeah I realize it's really the Rolling Stones)
This album hints at the greatness of the bands future albums like,
“Sgt. Disco,” “Ataxia,” “Mother Skinny,” “Stomping Grounds”
and the rest of their catalog.
Still bums me up that the band is no longer together,
I always looked forward to their albums.
Apparently Bob no longer works with Todd Tobias.
Come on Bob, at least give us a Circus Devils album every couple years.
You need an outlet for your Weirder stuff and Circus Devils the perfect outlet for that.
Brilliant band and album, if you can handle it