Practicing Self Defense
In the end, there never really is an end. [i]
We were always going to make another record. There was never any point where we looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it. We’re done.’ Nothing like that ever happened. In fact from my perspective, we “quit” at the height of our power. But really we never quit at all. We’ve all been working and making music the whole time.
Joyful Noise: So if this isn’t really a reunion, then what is it exactly?
If the question you’d like to ask is, “Would it even be fair to call this a breakup album?”, then the answer would have to be…
Yeah. Yeah, sure that’s definitely part of it. Fair? Fair enough, I suppose.
Looking back, I realize that Sebadoh is sort of like this demon familiar that attends these major seasons of transformation in my life. It was a coincidence– but it also made sense–that the opportunity to make this record presented itself at a time of overwhelming transition for me.
It’s just that when you’re a grown-up those kinds of life-altering radical transitions–stuff that turns your world upside down–happen less often. Major, frightening, gut-wrenching existential crises get more spaced out from one another. And so do seasons of major personal evolution & change.
You only become initiated into your vocation once for example. People sometimes ask me in tones of awe that seem mildly put-on: “Wow, did I ever think I would be making new records in my 40’s?”
I’m usually caught off guard, and my response ends up being something along the lines of: Uh…yeah????
That was what was so liberating about hardcore & punk rock. There were all these people flying under the radar. That was something that was apparent to me in 1982. These people worked really hard. If you work really hard and maybe you’ll do okay. You can have a life, and make music.’ The message was that you have to work really hard, and just keep working, but if you do that you’ve at least got a shot and making a life out of it, regardless of what the moussed ponytail guys in Hollywood think. You don’t have to be Motley Crue. If you work really hard and if you’re lucky you can just keep on going.
Things are sort of messier as you get older. There’s not as much black and white. Love and heartbreak as states of mind don’t always stay distinct and separate. You realize that your greatest victories and your most crushing defeats have a tendency to give birth to each other. You’d like to defend yourself, but if you stayed safe you might lose the very thing you were trying to protect. What was that thing anyway? What would you call it.
The whole muddle, I suppose, might have played some role in making this album take fourteen years to come together. But if so it played a small part. Mostly the reasons behind Sebadoh’s ‘hiatus’ were contextual.
* Lou’s “yeah,” over the phone is spoken with a sarcastic emphasis. As one would answer the question, “What are you sayin? Are you trying to tell me that Fox News is not an exemplar of journalist ethics or value-neutral when it comes to discussions of political policy?”
** The Sebadoh, 1999.
*** Loewenstein joined the “uber-sophisticated vanguard” of “new(er) indie rock” playing with the Fiery Furnaces with Sebadoh’s present-day drummer Bob D’Amico. Greil Marrcus: “The Fiery Furnaces…are the most unpredictable band in the country.” After Folk Implosion imploded Lou made a few solo albums. “I learned pretty quickly that people did not want me to make solo albums.” He did a few acoustic Sebadoh tours as well before rejoining Dinosaur Jr. in 2008.