Author Archives: Lou Barlow

Sebadoh Tour Diary, Part 1 [Featured]

Sebadoh Tour Diary (Lou Barlow, J. Loewenstein, Bob D'Amico at Laundromat Interview Session)

August 5-Seattle to Salt Lake City

Last week a mysterious doppelganger known only as “Dave Barlow” appeared in Los Angeles, where he proceeded to “reign supreme,” according to the LA Weekly.

While Dave Barlow’s origins remain shrouded in obscurity, it is reported that after splitting with a little known musical group led by “Jay Mascis” in the 1980’s he formed his own band which—

“…became a underdog indie group that gained serious street cred throughout the years…”

Picked up Swans new album & the Savages debut at Music Millenium in Portland before playing the Bunk Bar show.     Became utterly mired in cords at KEXP.  Playing with Dumb Numbers was great.  Adam is like part of the family at this point. Octagrape is great.   Looking forward to playing our next show with them in Salt Lake City.




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Salt Lake City To Denver – August 8th

In Seattle the bass breaks, 2 Western Oregon Vistas , 4 gas stations and 2 full mini-van drive days later we’re in clean and monument friendly Salt Lake City ..

There I pull a corroded battery from the guts of the bass and put a freshy in it’s stead. Then the guitar amp breaks. There’s about 20 friendly people at the show, my guitar also breaks but a dreadlocked luthier fixes it after the show.

Next day 8 hours to Denver and the first show that I play well.  Ironically, it’s not until we get on stage in Denver that I can sing the songs without gasping for breath.  Breathing easy in the city of lung-compression the city of lung compression.

At the Merch table I use a credit card reader with my iPhone, still very, very excited about that creditcard reader.  A depressed young man asks me if what I did as a teenager matters to me as an adult , I say ‘of course’. I’m not sure if that helps.

Next day Dino Jr is scheduled to play Red Rocks opening for Phoenix.  Everybody is unusually excited about it, girlfriends and wives fly in , my seba-bandmates will resist the allure of their single hotel rooms . The Dino Jr management are aglow with a sense of achievement.. We don’t play Red Rocks.     A phantom storm forces a venue change day of.. We play indoors at a basketball stadium.

Bob and Jake don’t go , everyone is disappointed..




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Denver to Phoenix-August 10th

My turn to drive.  Gallup New Mexico to Phoenix.. 4 hours plus.  From 6,000 feet above sea-level to 1,000.  From cool, piney air ( 60º fahrenheit ) to the lovin’ oven desert (107º fahrenheit) …

The GPS sends us on 2-lane roads almost the whole way, i’m seeing vistas I’ve never seen. Arizona is astounding.  As we descend from the mountains the landscape becomes a vast collection of enormous rocks and cacti.

I’m sure some conservative citizens of Arizona believe God placed the rocks there, one by one, 10,000 years ago.  I, on the other hand, am wondering what the fuck happened.  Was this the bottom of an ancient ocean?   What happened to the ocean?

So, Phoenix: the Crescent Ballroom.  The show is well attended..not sold out or anything ,mind you, but there’s a lot of familiar faces and dancing and, just…love.

Which is nice considering how angry the state of Arizona is these days.

We pay tribute to local heroes the Meat Puppets, Sun City Girls and the Feederz during the set. We also tune alot, hem and haw, crack jokes etc.  But no one seems to mind.  I decide, during my usual internal show-time dialog, that I need to sing more during the day so my voice in is stronger for the show at night (I learned this lesson long ago, why must i always relearn it?)

We do the first encore of the tour and I use the credit card reader more than any other show!  Thank you phoenix, I will always come here, even if whitey is an asshole…


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Phoenix to San Diego

The always interesting Phoenix to San Diego drive.

More interesting these days, as the Feds crawl the desert and set up roadblocks on
interstate ostensibly to catch illegal immigrants but also to bust
anybody carrying anything illegal…

That’s right pothead , you’re car could be torn apart! ..

But with bob at the wheel  with his rugged Marlboro man looks and new york demeanor we are waved through.. though we had nothing on us just the presence of straightbacked soldiers
makes me feel guilty…

Anyway..out of the desert and into San Diego and the what is commonly
regarded as the most perfect weather on earth..

Here we are at the Casbah possibly the most perfect club in the country.

I have played here in every incarnation of every band I’ve been in -and- solo too
many times to count.. at least once a year since, say, 1994…

It’s small but not too small, the people that work there are ‘rad’ and it
always sounds good onstage… Tonight is no exception , in fact i think
it’s one of the best shows i’ve ever played here, from my perspective
anyway, but the crowd are a little sleepy so I tease them, a lot,
maybe too much..maybe they think I’m a dick now. Good-natured sarcasm
does not translate well from a stage, from an uptight looking guy
with glasses (me).


Practicing Self Defense [Featured]

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.  Continue reading

Defend Yourself [Featured]

Defend Yourself by Sebadoh

Buy SECRET EP by clicking here!

1.  What have you been doing for the past 14 years since The Sebadoh came out?

After the anticlimactic impact of The Sebadoh,  I headed out on a tour to promote my other major label fiasco: One Part Lullaby by the Folk Implosion.  My partner in that band quit within days of the record being released but I went on without him, playing solo.  It was–much like my experience with The Sebadoh–humbling.

In 2001, I formed the New Folk Implosion in order to fulfill my contractual obligations to Interscope records, I needn’t have bothered because they dropped me almost immediately upon hearing the recordings the band was making. We (the New Folk Implosion) found another label who also hated the record but released it anyway.  The record was cleverly titled The New Folk Implosion.

We played to empty halls all over the world in 2002-2003.

After that, I was asked if it would be possible for an incarnation of Sebadoh to play a Domino Records 10th anniversary show.  Jake & I decided to play it safe & cheap & play as a semi-acoustic duo.  It went really well!

By 2004 we’d done three tours this way & my faith had been restored. I released my first ‘proper’ solo record in 2005 called Emoh. It was a not-quite-as-lo-fi-as-all-my-other-solo-stuff acoustic-based record.

As I began to tour in support of that record I was asked to rejoin Dinosaur Jr. for a round of reunion shows starting in mid 2005.  The reunion is now in it’s 8th year.

In 2007, after the reissue of the first Sebadoh record The Freed Man & then Bubble & Scrape we reformed the original, fully electrified line-up, re-enlisting Eric Gaffney & toured the US & Europe.  Around this time I finished my 2nd ‘proper’ solo record Goodnight Unknown I toured with a band & discovered that not many people want me to do solo records.

Then, when the reissue of Bakesale appeared Jake & I decided it was best to replace Eric Gaffney with a drummer more interested in representing the songs from that record.  We enlisted Jake’s longtime collaborator & Fiery Furnaces’ bandmate Bob D’amico & traveled extensively through 2011.

I continued to split my time with Dinosaur Jr. & we finished our 3rd post-reunion LP in early 2012.  Shortly after the Dinosaur Jr. sessions for I Bet On Sky  concluded, I convened with Jake & Bob in my practice space in Glendale, CA & we recorded 20 new songs.  In July 2012 we self-released 5 of these songs as the Secret EP & toured in support of it in the fall of 2012.  We finished the remaining 15 songs in early 2013, 13 of which comprise the new LP: Defend Yourself.  The 2 remaining songs will appear somewhere, some time, in some form…

2.  How did you decide that now was the time to make the next Sebadoh record?

The touring in support of the Bakesale reissue went very well.  We had good chemistry as a 3 piece, Bob & Jake had been playing together for years & along with my 20 year history with Jake, D’Amico’s contribution to the lineup was just a good fit.  A new record had always been something we knew we would get around to doing & the pieces finally seemed to fall in place.  My experience with the Dinosaur Jr. post-reunion albums had shown that it was best to just get on with it, drop any fears of not surpassing the band’s earlier work & just make some new songs to play live & share with the people who still care about us.

3.  How has your recording/mixing process changed since The Sebadoh? Just in broad strokes.

Defend Yourself was recorded in a practice space. The Sebadoh was recorded in an expensive LA studio. Defend Yourself was recorded by Jake.  The Sebadoh was recorded by a producer & an engineer who got paid.

In other words we did Defend Yourself the only way it could have been done, on the cheap &–outside of the mixing of my  6 songs with Wally Gagel–all by ourselves.

Other than that our process is the same, we bring songs we have written individually , in various stages of completion & finish them together.  My songs, in general, are more sketchy than Jake’s when I bring them to the band, I look to Bob & Jake to write their own parts & I structure the songs according to what seems to work.

4.  Are you excited about anything in particular?

I was excited to work with Wally Gagel on the final mixes for my songs, he was my writing partner/producer during the heyday of the Folk Implosion.   He & I hadn’t worked together for awhile & I liked what he did with Jake’s recordings. He also saved my ass by being available when I really needed him.

I’m relieved that we were able to find the time to make a new LP happen & surprised at how well it seems to hang together conceptually. I’m also pleased that we kept to ourselves during the recording & didn’t have much, if any, outside intervention. That, to my mind, makes it a true Sebadoh record & aligns the style of Defend Yourself with our early releases.

I used more 4 string guitar on this record than any record since Bakesale.  Also, we tuned lower & I reverted back to the downstroke strumming style that I used early on.  I made a conscious effort to do what felt the most natural as opposed to trying to streamline the sound as I did with some of the songs on The Sebadoh & Harmacy.