My Firsts: Lou Barlow of Sebadoh - Top Shelf | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, April 14th, 2024  

My Firsts: Lou Barlow of Sebadoh

Top Shelf

Jul 18, 2019 Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share

My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Lou Barlow of Sebadoh.

Sebadoh (Barlow, Jason Loewenstein, and Bob D’Amico) released a new album Act Surprised, back in May via Dangerbird. Act Surprised is the band’s first album in six years. They recorded it with producer/sound engineer Justin Pizzoferatto after, as a press release announcing the album states, Barlow “moved back to his home state of Massachusetts following a series of personal changes.”

Barlow was born in 1966 in Dayton, Ohio. In 1982 he formed his first band, influential hardcore act Deep Wound, with Scott Helland, his high school classmate in Westfield, Massachusetts. J Mascis soon joined on drums. Two years later Barlow and Mascis went on to form Dinosaur Jr. with Emmett Jefferson Murphy III (aka Murph). When Barlow left Dinosaur Jr. in 1989 he turned his attention to his side-project with Eric Gaffney, Sebadoh. The band released their debut album The Freed Man that same year and Loewenstein also joined the lineup in 1989. Gaffney left the band in 1993, but Barlow and Loewenstein continued on. The band went on hiatus after 1999’s The Sebadoh, with Barlow focusing on his other band The Folk Implosion and his solo work. Barlow, Gaffney, and Loewenstein went on a reunion tour in 2007, but eventually Gaffney was replaced by Bob D’Amico in time for 2013’s Defend Yourself, which was Sebadoh’s first album in 14 years. Act Surprised is its follow-up, the band’s ninth studio album.

Lowenstein jokingly had this to say about Act Surprised in the press release announcing the album: “Of all the records we have made in our long career, this is definitely the most recent.”

Read on as Barlow talks about his first broken bone, being offered drugs at an airport, broken hearts and bad reviews, and the first time he got drunk.

First broken bone?

Collar bone 2018I was walking in my backyard holding my two-year-old daughter. It was a February and there was snow on the ground. Just as I was lamenting my decision to leave LA, I slipped on a patch of ice and fell to protect my daughter and landed on my shoulder and shattered my collarbone.

First movie you saw in the movie theater?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In the early ‘70smaybe 1972I was 5/6 years old. It was both thrilling and terrifying. I still watch it often.

First concert you went to?

A Sunday matinee with three local punk and New Wave bands1981. One band sounded like The Clashthey were called Section 8.

First country you visited outside of your own?

The Netherlands. (Actually, Holland). Walked out of the airportsomeone handed us some weed as they were getting on an airplane.

First band you were in?

Deep Wound. J Mascis on drums. Me on guitar. Scott [Helland] on bass and Charlie [Nakajima] on vocals. We played as fast as possible. Our biggest show was opening for DOA in Boston and we released a 7-inch EP with nine songs on it. Napalm Death name checked us once in an interview as an influence. The bass player of Turbonegro has a sticker of our band on his bass.

First bad review?

Sebadoh review in Flipside Magazine. First Sebadoh release. Review said: “Sounds like stoned hippies around a campfire.”

First time your heart was broken?

1991, I left on a month long tour with Sebadoh and came home to my lawyer (he was working on a settlement with Dinosaur Jr. for me) in bed with my girlfriend. I ended up writing a ton of songs for her and refusing to let her go. In retrospect, and in light of other infidelities that would follow, I should have bowed out gracefully then but I wasn’t confident enough to think I could find anyone else that would put up with me once they knew me. I had already bared my soul to her and assumed her general acceptance was as good as it could get for me.

First album bought?

1975, Elton John’s Greatest Hits, he’s sitting in a white suit, with a piano behind him. I stared at the cover and listened with big ‘70s style (it was the ‘70s!) white headphones. It made my arm hairs stand on end, loved it.

First music festival you went to?

Futurama, Belgium 1987 (or 88). Dinosaur Jr. was playing. I had never (and still haven’t) attended a festival as a civilian. I saw Dead Moon after we played. They set up on the edge of the stage with candles on the kick drum and people loved them. They were very popular there. I also saw a band called the Young Gods that seemed to be a drummer, a guy who played a keyboard that triggered samples, and a muscular vocalist. They seemed as futuristic as the Dead Moon were retro, both bands were amazing.

First time you got drunk?

Out of boredom, alone, at the age of 18, I poured myself a very large glass from the bottle of Seagram’s Whiskey that had lived on a top shelf in my parents’ house. It had been there, untouched, for years. I danced and sang deliriously for about a half hour then spent the next four hours vomiting.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.