MEET CIRCUS DEVILS

ROBERT POLLARD (vocals, lyrics, album art, founder)

Known as "The Godfather of indie rock," Robert founded the band GUIDED BY VOICES in 1983 in his hometown Dayton, Ohio.  In 1994 Robert decided to leave his job as a 4th grade teacher to devote his time to the band.  Over the years Guided by Voices has seen many line-up changes with Robert remaining at the helm.  In addition to his work with GBV, Robert has released many SOLO ALBUMS, and is an accomplished collage artist.  There is a series of collage/poetry magazines titled EAT, along with a hardback collection of his work titled TOWN OF MIRRORS, published in 2008.  In his spare time Robert waits at the window in anticipation of his daily visit from Meals On Wheels.

ROBERT POLLARD

TODD TOBIAS

LISTEN to a few sample songs from Circus Devils below (please note: these are examples of the band's friendly songs)

DOLPHINS OF COLOR from the album "FIVE"

A BIRDCAGE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE from the album "THE HAROLD PIG MEMORIAL"

CYCLOPEAN RUNWAYS from the album "CAPSIZED!"

SUNFLOWER WILDMAN (REMEMBER HIM?)  from the album "STOMPING GROUNDS"

Development of the average Circus Devils fan

The development of the average Circus Devils fan is clearly shown.

ALL THE GOOD ONES ARE GONE from the album "MOTHER SKINNY"

Circus Devils began as a project proposed by Robert Pollard in 2001, intended to be an outlet for more freaky and psychedelic (ie: less accessible) musical expressions.  While the band has largely been acknowledged to exist by fans of Robert's better known musical ventures, some continue to struggle with the notion that a songwriter and performer of Robert's high calibre would stoop to drag his knuckles in a "band" like Circus Devils.   Robert made his connection with the band clear when he stated, quote "Circus Devils is fun."  

During his membership in Robert's band Guided By Voices, then bass player Tim Tobias encouraged the formation of what would become Circus Devils by passing Robert a cassette tape filled with brother Todd Tobias' instrumental music.  Robert was inspired by the mixture of brash, creepy and pretty music on the tape, some of which turned up on their first experiment, titled Ringworm Interiors.  Robert named the new project Circus Devils, reflecting the combination of humor and horror which would inform the band's music, themes and imagery. 

The process of making a Circus Devils album began with Todd and Tim recording a collection of intrumental pieces, which were auditioned to Robert, who then chose which pieces to include on the album.  From there Robert wrote his lyrics and melodies.  Musical styles range from 1960's psychedelic rock to 1970s metal and melodic soft rock to ominous atmospheric mood pieces.  The broad range in music styles offered Robert a wide open canvas for his lyrical musings and a venue for his story-worlds, each one populated by a cast of characters.  The effect makes for a cinematic listening experience. 

Because of their thematic nature, Circus Devils albums are intended to be heard as albums. You may want to keep this in mind as you browse on iTunes.  Individual songs are often short, many under 2 minutes. This may reflect the band members' short attention spans, but the albums as a whole always present a complete statement in terms of theme and mood.  Many of the albums are available on vinyl, for that old-fashioned tactile experience.

A BRIEF HISTORY

"Todd and Tim [Tobias] write the music, and I come up with the melodies and lyrics. I call it the Ohio Rock Factory. Tim and Todd run the northern plant in Cleveland, and I've got the southern plant down here in Dayton.  No tours permitted."  -Robert Pollard

INFORMATIVE QUOTES FROM INTERESTED PARTIES (including band mambers)

"Although it would be easy to dismiss Circus Devils as just another indie side project by Guided by Voices founder Robert Pollard, the band encompasses a different form of musical exploration altogether, and dismisses the styles of his solo endeavors for a more ominous and nightmarish tone exploring the themes of good and evil." -Jason Lymangrover (Allmusic.com)

"Circus Devils is if nothing else incredibly consistent, with each record bringing an element of the unexpected."  -Bryan Hammil (The Ash Gray Proclamation)

"Circus Devils is real!" - words heard shouted in 1989 by Robert Pollard and the Tobias brothers on separate occassions.   Both times the words were shouted by an unidentified hairy-faced man, who resembled the famous Russian "dog-faced boy" (Fedor Jeftichew).   Robert was startled by this man in a record shop parking lot.  The Tobias brothers spotted him when their car broke down on a lonely Ohio back road.  After pronouncing the words "Circus Devils is real!," the hair-faced man quickly ducked back into the woods and was never seen again.  The words proved prophetic 12 years later, when Robert proposed the formation of Circus Devils. 

"The Tobias brothers give Pollard a chance to do something with the prog rock influences that have long been his dirty little secret." -Mark Deming (Allmusic.com)

"Likely too odd for your average music fan, but also an intricate, intoxicating and unique, hybrid form of rock." -Dave Heaton (Erasing Clouds)

"Circus Devils is scary." - Ben Hough (age 7)

CIRCUS DEVILS FAQ

  • CIRCUS DEVILS members are old white males born and raised in Ohio, USA
  • The musical genre which CIRCUS DEVILS represents is GARAGE-PROG.   This genre has yet to be acknowledged by the World Music Council, whose members' average age is 14. 
  • Elsewhere the music of CIRCUS DEVILS has been described as PRIMITIVE ART-ROCK
  • CIRCUS DEVILS was formed in 2001
  • CIRCUS DEVILS is singular (as in, one band).  "The Circus Devils" is not the band's name
  • CIRCUS DEVILS would enjoy a female fan (just one would be nice)
  • Each CIRCUS DEVILS album is unique, containing its own characters and story-world
  • CIRCUS DEVILS has performed only one show, and some say the show never took place 
  • CIRCUS DEVILS does not consume drugs (while making records)
  • CIRCUS DEVILS is not satanic or associated with demons or malignant spirits of any sort
  • CIRCUS DEVILS endeavors to provide an oblique commentary on modern civilization
  • All CIRCUS DEVILS albums were originally made available on vinyl LP and CD.  At the present time certain titles may be difficult to track down.
  • If you visit a record shop, and the Circus Devils albums are not filed under the letter 'C' (between The Christmas Candies and The Clap) then please inform the shop owner and insist that the correction be made at once. 

SEE

PATTERN GIRL from the album "SGT DISCO"

TODD TOBIAS (music, album production)

In addition to his music constructions with Circus Devils, Todd releases works of his own on the Hidden Shoal label and Tiny Room Records.  Todd's collaboration with Robert as a musician/producer began with Guided by Voices' 2002 album Universal Truths and Cycles.  In earlier years Todd played in bands with his brother Tim (see below), while tinkering on the side with a cassette 4-track recorder.  Todd resides in the wooded suburbs between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio.  Little is known about his personal habits, but he has been spotted by law officers, grocery shoppers and hikers standing alone and speaking to invisible companions. 

Circus Devils ALBUM REVIEWS

READ

Circus Devils VIDEOS

"Ask SGT DISCO"  (aka The Circus Devils Forum - active from 2007 - 2012)  

 contains Q + A from fans with philosophical musings and useful advice from the Sgt.

2007  -  2008   -  2009 -  2011 -  2012

"Amid the fright and fun, there are buried mysteries and splashes of unrefined exuberance.  Taken all together it spells high musical adventure.        - Russ Treichler

TIM TOBIAS (music)

Tim has been a member of several Cleveland-based bands since the 1980s, including 4 Coyotes, Gem, and most recently Clouds Forming Crowns.  Though customarily a guitar player, Tim joined Guided by Voices on bass from 1999 to 2003.  In 2000, while recording the GBV album Isolation Drills, Tim passed one of brother Todd's experimental cassette tapes to Robert.  Soon after, Robert proposed the formation of Circus Devils.  Tim currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio.  He enjoys watching the television and playing the guitar (at the same time).

TIM TOBIAS