Originally created as a side project to coincide with his work in Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh quickly became Lou Barlow’s main musical outlet after he was ousted from the band he helped create. After a notorious power struggle in songwriting with Dinosaur leader J. Mascis, Barlow began pursuing his more autonomous endeavors.
In contrast to the towering guitar-based rock band that Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. would become known for, Barlow and his work with Sebadoh soon led to a reputation as a pioneer of the lo-fi sound revolution.
Though at this point, he doesn’t seek any credit for it.
“I guess I never thought too much about it,” he says. “It was really just about making music. In the ’80s and early ’90s, going to a studio was a sure way to kill your music. Rock records in the ’80s and ’90s were horrendous-sounding to me. I just did what I did to keep it interesting for myself. Generally I wanted to keep it kind of crunchy and natural-sounding. I mean, we also literally recorded things on Walkmans. But to me that wasn’t a radical statement.”
Barlow saw his most prolific decade of releases in the ’90s. Besides Sebadoh releases, Barlow would go on to release records as Sentridoh (his solo acoustic project) and Folk Implosion, a better produced endeavor that gave him his first Top 40 hit, “Natural One.”
If Sebadoh releases may seem sluggish in recent times, it could be due to Barlow’s surprising reinstatement in Dino-saur Jr. as part of the recent reunion trend. But he says this has only helped Sebadoh.
“When Dinosaur got back together it sort of gave me the fi- nancial means to get Sebadoh back together,” he says. “I was able to make a leap and make it happen for everybody. To be completely happy in Dinosaur, I have to be doing other stuff. … If I’m doing other stuff, I’m perfectly happy doing Dinosaur.”
Time for another ‘Bakesale’
Recently, Barlow was also called upon by Sub Pop to reissue Sebadoh’s seminal release from 1994, “Bakesale.” “I didn’t think there was a necessity to reissue,” notes Barlow. “It’s probably all still readily available in bargain bins everywhere and sitting in piles in warehouses. I think it is a gesture made by people and labels to say that you made an important record and you should reissue it.”
The band starts their American tour this week and is recording again. “We just did a digital EP that came out a few weeks ago,” notes Barlow. “And we have 15 more songs in various stages of completion.”
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