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Old 02.27.2007, 11:14 AM   #1
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Lou Barlow Talks Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., Influence
In the pantheon of the indie rock gods, Lou Barlow gets his own hallway. As a founding member of Dinosaur Jr. and the leader of Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion, he has spent the past two-plus decades helping to sculpt the lo-fi, fuzz-driven sound that scores our lives.
Recently, both the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup of Barlow, frontman J Mascis and drummer Murph, and the "classic" Sebadoh lineup of Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Loewenstein reunited. After a series of successful tours, Dinosaur Jr. recorded a new album, Beyond, due May 1 on Fat Possum. A live DVD, Dinosaur Jr.: Live From the Middle East is due May 8 via Image Entertainment.
Ever prolific, Barlow continues to maintain his solo career, with an EP, Mirror the Eye, due out on Acuarela soon, and his next full-length on Merge in the works. More Sebadoh reissues are also due in the near future.
Tonight in San Diego, Sebadoh kick off a lengthy North American tour. To celebrate the occasion, Pitchfork chatted with Barlow about nostalgia, influence, those Dinosaur Jr. sneakers, and what's been rocking his two-year-old's stereo.
Pitchfork: You're currently a member of two reunited bands, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. By their very nature, reunions inspire people to think back on "the good old days". How do you feel about the concept of nostalgia? Do you think it's a good thing?
Lou Barlow: Both of these bands are such an emotional thing for me. Like, getting back and playing with Dinosaur, the last thing I'm thinking about is why people are going to see us play. And kind of the same with Sebadoh, 'cause for me, this isn't a nostalgic thing. It's actually been a lot of trying to reclaim the music from all the ambivalence and negativity that kind of surrounded both bands I guess, with these particular lineups.
So for me, going out and doing this stuff, it's actually about something very new for me. It's very new. It's something I've never done before, and kind of thrilling in that way. Like, nostalgia itself, I mean, that's cute. Nostalgia's cute is all I can say. It's nice. It doesn't really exist, like, people have to be going to these shows to see the music, basically, you know? The music is the real thing, and music never dies. A good band, they're playing together, and you get that sense-it's always kind of new, you know?
With Dinosaur, the weird thing is that so many of the people who came to see Dinosaur play were really young kids. Like really young, to the point that it's doubtful that they were even born when we put out our first records.
Pitchfork: When you say that you're "trying to reclaim the music from all the ambivalence and negativity" surrounding both Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, are talking about personal problems you've had with other members?
LB: Oh, yeah. It's about all the personal stuff that got attached to it, that's all. I mean, it's a total cliché, but as you become older, it becomes more about clearing that kind of stuff out of my life, like that sort of negativity. It's learning how to apologize or how to, I don't know, just understand people, to understand where they're coming from, and spending time, and respecting all of that. That's really what is behind both of these things for me, and the fact that people are going to see us play makes it possible. And it feels real.

Pitchfork: Do you hear any new bands that are around today that seem to have been influenced by Sebadoh?
LB: No, I never have. I always hear bands that sound like Pavement and Sonic Youth to me, but never Sebadoh. Whenever someone says like, "Oh, it really sounds like Sebadoh," I listen to it and I'm like, "No. What are you talking about?! It doesn't sound like Sebadoh."

Like people were saying that guy from Snow Patrol sounded a lot like me. I'd actually met him a few years ago, and his friends practically pushed him on me, like, "HE SOUNDS JUST LIKE YOU!" And I'm like, "Uhh..."
Pitchfork: I don't hear that either.

LB: And then people were like, "Man, you must be so mad, that Snow Patrol shit rippin' off indie rock and Sebadoh!" And I'm like, "Guys. No. I don't hear it."
Pitchfork: Snow Patrol sounds like Coldplay to me.

LB: Exactly! Which I like. I'm fine with that. I'm like, great, I love anthemic fuckin' songs like that, but god, Sebadoh? No. God, people don't understand our music was literally put together with Scotch tape and staples. We're not out to impress anybody with our velocity.

Pitchfork: When did the idea of getting this Sebadoh lineup back together first come up?

LB: Well the idea's always been there, just 'cause Jason [Lowenstein] and I have always kind of maintained the band. And we did our own little reunion tour a couple of years ago [the 2004 "Turbo Acoustic Tour"], and that was really fun. We've always been like, "We're going to play together again for sure, but who's gonna play drums?"
And then Eric Gaffney and I have been embroiled in like a four-year e-mail battle about the specifics of Sebadoh history, and then we finally started agreeing on things. We reissued Sebadoh III, and as we were on this streak of agreeing about things, we decided to go on tour together, to see how that's going to go, you know?

Pitchfork: The press release for the Sebadoh tour said we'd hear stuff from all eras of the band. What exactly does that mean? Are we going to hear stuff from the later lineup?
LB: Yeah, you'll probably like Bakesale stuff, like Jason songs that Eric didn't play on. We'll probably play one song from every album. We might learn new stuff too.

Pitchfork: So you've been writing new songs together?
LB: Yeah, I've been writing new stuff, and Eric has been totally into it and really energetic. He's basically teaching me like three songs a day.

Pitchfork: Do you think another Sebadoh record with this lineup would be possible?
LB: It's kind of like with the Dinosaur thing-- let's just see if we get through this 53-day tour first, and then maybe after that, you know, it happens. It'll probably happen over a period of about two years I would say.

Pitchfork: And now you're working on more Sebadoh reissues, right? [Weed Forestin' and Freed Man are in the works for Domino.]
LB: Yeah, I'm going through all my four-track stuff. A lot of the records that were released originally were very rushed, and I've always wanted to readdress some of the old recordings, and put them out as I heard them myself. So I'm doing that a little bit, and yeah, just finished the Dinosaur record.
Pitchfork: Oh yeah! We're excited about that. Why did you guys choose to sign to Fat Possum?
LB: I didn't choose anybody. I've got nothing to do with this. I'm only the bass player. Along for the ride.
Pitchfork: I have to ask: Do you own a pair of Dinosaur Jr. sneakers?

LB: I do have a pair.
Pitchfork: And how are they?
LB: I can't even put 'em on. I'm not really up on my sneakers, I don't know. J [Mascis] is pretty connected.
Pitchfork: What current bands are you listening to?

LB: I finally saw the Gossip play last year at All Tomorrow's Parties, and I'd heard some records of theirs that I really liked, but then I saw them live, and I was like, "Oh my god," you know, so good.
And then the other day-- we have On Demand, you know, On Demand TV-- I could see the Gossip On Demand. One video and I was like, "Fuck, I gotta get that record."

We have a two-year-old, so it's good to play music that the baby responds to. She fuckin' loves it! Totally into it, totally dances. It's really empowering music, and we listen to it probably three or four times a day now. I love it. I totally love that record.
And then we're trying to listen to the new Joanna Newsom record, but they make an odd pair.
Pitchfork: Yeah, I can't see a two-year-old being too into that.
LB: No, she gets kind of agitated when we play it. We have to turn it off because the baby starts getting really repetitive, like, she'll get locked into some sort of...there's a tension that comes over everything.

Pitchfork: Well, that's kind of the reaction that a lot of people I know had to that record.
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Old 02.27.2007, 11:26 AM   #2
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Pretty good read. Im looking forward to to SEBADOH IN APRIL
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