Double Helix

Coming across as Moving Targets playing some All songs in a power pop vein Pittsburgh’s Pollen are rereleasing their 1995 second album Crescent

It is 13 well crafted songs that do touch on the Descendents (hence the All reference).

This band is slightly unusual in that the drummer writes all the songs. pollen stickMan Bob Hoag has featured on and produced many US indie rock outfits. Sitting behind the kit and solely banging away is most definitely not his thing.

These are songs full of pace change and structure to keep you thinking as they speed pop into your veins.

I sent the drummer Bob Hoag a few questions and here is what he has to say

Why release this record now?

Well, during the earliest stages of The Pandemic That Won’t Quit Thanks To Humanity’s Refusal To Prioritize The Greater Good Over Personal Convenience, I found myself with some time on my hands and decided to take a crack at remastering this album, which was badly disfigured in the original mastering. At the time, I really did it for the enjoyment of the rest of the band, so we could hear the record actually sounding great, because Stephen really did a great job on the engineering and mix of this.

This was kind of a weird, transitional record for us, and not a lot of folks heard it at the time (which is maybe good, because it didn’t sound very good sonically, on CD), so when our other records came out on vinyl and did pretty well, we thought it would be nice to give this weird little record the proper release it never got. We figured folks who like our other records would enjoy hearing this side of the band, which had been previously pretty tough to find.

Does being a producer make recording your own band a more difficult experience as you seek perfection and know more about the process?

For the most part, I have been too busy producing records for other folks for the past 20 years to get into making a record for myself, so I’m not sure I have a solid perspective on that. My definition of “perfection” has changed a lot over the years, too. I will say that remastering these was pretty difficult, in terms of seeking perfection. I got into a really obsessive mode of focus that was kinda beyond anything I normally do. It was tough trying to honor the vibe of the 90s but making it sound competitive with stuff today, without being too revisionist. You want it to be what it was, but the best possible version of what it was.

How do you plan on letting people know this record is about to be unleashed?

Unfortunately the Met Gala has come and gone, otherwise I would have plugged it on the red carpet. Currently, I’m fairly bunkered down in the studio, so hopefully the mystique surrounding my departure from society will make it to TMZ, and humanity will look to the lyrics on a record I made 30 years ago for answers.

As you said you wrote the lyrics up to 30 years ago. How did it feel writing for someone else to sing them? How do you feel about them almost 30 years on?

During all of my time in Pollen, this just seemed like the way to go. I didn’t like my singing voice (I’m not sure I had really found it at the time), and it just seemed natural to me to give them to someone who was an actual singer. Years later, I would come to embrace my own idiosyncratic singing voice, but I wasn’t there at this point. A few bands I loved did this (ALL, Descendents, Fastbacks), so I guess those sort of set the example for me that that was normal/acceptable.

Of course, 30 years on, a lot of those lyrics are hard for me to listen to. I was certainly a kid in turmoil, and it’s all there on that record, for better or for worse. I really felt like I didn’t fit into any scene, and I felt pretty isolated from society — just felt like some weird alien being who other folks couldn’t understand at all. I still feel like that on some level, especially in The Pandemic That Won’t Quit Thanks To Humanity’s Refusal To Prioritize The Greater Good Over Personal Convenience. Man, good thing I’m not nearly as emotional and dramatic as I was thirty years ago!

Pollen Photo by Jim Steinfeldt


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