Thu 25th Aug, 2011 in Features
After signing to Sub-Pop in 1992, Sebadoh gained moderate popularity with their wistful, unpolished rock albums before making their breakthrough record; 1994’s Bakesale. Having dropped a lot of the more experimental sounds found on previous Sebadoh albums, Bakesale felt like a push towards a broader audience which, if in fact true, worked for them. Now as its fully tricked-out reissue is set for release, and a Don’t Look Back-style tour’s to follow, I press Lou for his honest opinion of Bakesale, and if it at all matches the general consensus that it was Sebadoh’s finest hour.
“I liked the record when it came out.” He pauses before adding, “I remember it being a really happy time in my life and there’s a good spirit on that album, but I guess as time went by I found I didn’t think it sounded very good. Then when we had to go back and listen to it for the tweaking and remastering, I think I finally – for the first time – got why people think it’s our best album. I mean I don’t personally think it is our best, I like our earlier, fucked up shit more, but I do think it is our most consistent record.” What has always driven Barlow from the time spent making his strange and murky home demo tapes to his clashes with J Mascis over Dinosaur Jr.’s direction, may well be the belief, as he was quoted as saying in an interview, that all music is mired in clichés. Lou, no doubt thankful our time is nearly up, takes the opportunity to explain his possibly off-hand observation.
“The reality is, whatever you do is gonna be clichéd once you’re aware of avoiding clichés.” He sniffs, “The way I make music is with an economy of sound in mind, if you know what I mean. Instead of adding layers and guitar solos or any of that, I like to strip it back and to sing in the purest, most unaffected voice I can find. If there’s any clichés I’m avoiding, it’s just in having nothing where the guitar solo should be, and clipping off extended intros and outros, I guess, and there’s your economy of sound.” Lou adds, brightening up, “You know, I just thought of that expression today and I decided I needed to use it in a sentence. I hope that ‘economy of sound’ comes across better than ‘music is mired in clichés’ as a quote – I think that sound a bit fatuous now. I actually love clichés; I love pop music, and none of my pleasures are guilty ones, but I guess when I’m writing my own music I just try to side-step all that is what I’m saying.”
FasterLouder presents Sebadoh’s Australian tour:
Friday 16th September – The Rosemount, Perth
Sunday 18th September – Corner Hotel, Melbourne Sold out
Monday 19th September – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Wednesday 21st September – Metro Theatre, Sydney
Thursday 22nd September – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane