Guided by Voices Drum Auction Turns Ugly

Ex-drummer posts terse email exchange with frontman Robert Pollard

Kevin Fennell of Guided By Voices performs in Dayton, Ohio.
Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images
Kevin Fennell of Guided By Voices performs in Dayton, Ohio.
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What started as a basic online auction has turned into an ugly public rift between Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard and drummer Kevin Fennell, who is apparently no longer with the band.

Last week, Fennell listed his drum kit for sale on eBay for $55,000, though he drew no takers for the equipment he says he played on GBV records including Bee Thousand and Aliens Lanes. The auction closed today without a single bid. Fennell played with Guided by Voices in the Nineties and rejoined the band when leader Robert Pollard reconvened the "classic" lineup in 2010 for a tour that grew into a string of new albums.

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Now Fennell is out again, Pollard said in a statement reported by Pitchfork, but the drummer is not going quietly. Earlier, a Facebook page for the drum auction posted what Fennell says is an e-mail exchange between him and Pollard about the drummer's decision to sell the drum kit, which Fennell wrote was the result of financial necessity. (The posting has since been removed.) "After rejoining the band, I was hopeful that we would be more active regarding playing out and having the opportunity to earn money," Fennell wrote to Pollard in an e-mail that also includes his resignation from the band. "As a result, I passed on two full-time job opportunities. . . to make sure I was available for the band but we only played two shows this year, with no mention of anything in the future."

A return message, allegedly from Pollard, was terse. "First of all, most people would like to know who the fuck you think you are and who you think Guided by Voices is that you can warrant that kind of asking price for your fucking drums," read one section of the e-mail.

Later, the message addressed Fennell's employment with Guided by Voices. "You can call it resigning if you want but you were already fired. I've been wanting to do that for a long time," the e-mail read, before going on to question Fennell's professionalism and express regret that the drummer was involved in the reunion. "Do not delude yourself, Kevin, that people gave a shit who was behind that drum kit," read part of the post-script.

Guided by Voices' most recent album was English Little League, which came out in April. The ever-prolific band is set to release a pair of seven-inch singles this fall: "Tonight's the Rodeo" is due on October 29th, and "Return of the Drums" is planned for November 26th. A new LP, Motivational Jumpsuit, is on the way for 2014.

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