Lou Barlow talks the talk

By MATT PARISH  |  March 24, 2011

How many "reunion" tours have you done at this point? Does each one change your perspective on this music? I think the last time we toured was four years ago. Three or four years ago. On a kind of superficial level, when we did the last tour — we've done three "reunion" tours. The first one we did was, I think, in was 2004. It was just Jason and I and we went out and put all the drum tracks on a four-track and played it out through a boom box. We played sort of semi-electrically. That was awesome. Then we got Eric Gaffney back and were a three-piece. That was kind of a trip, because Eric was back in the band and he's really got all of his own songs to play, as opposed to just focusing on just Jason and my stuff. With Eric, it becomes almost impossible to play everything. When Eric enters the thing, it sort of becomes about Eric. It becomes a huge balancing act and Jason sort of gets the shaft as far as playing his songs.

On this tour, we have a drummer but we're kind of focusing on a lot of Jason's stuff that he hasn't really played before and it's kind of awesome. That's sort of been the cool thing about this tour, seeing people react to Jason's stuff that they maybe haven't heard played before. It's a little different because rather than playing bass on his songs, he's playing guitar. And he's a really cool guitar player. And we're splitting it evenly between our songs.

You've always seemed like such a product of that scrappy '80s Western Mass scene and then, later on, the underdog Boston indie rock world — how long did it take to adjust to LA? I mean LA is a huge city. It's not really Hollywood. The images that people attach to what LA is are parts of LA. The fact is that the way the whole city is laid out is just houses. There's no big projects or anything. Even in the places that are considered "hard" here in LA are kind of cute. They're cute little houses. It's kind of amazing. The first time I went to Compton, I was like, "This is Compton? Wow, okay. Well, it's better than Somerville, I gotta say." Of course Somerville has changed, but when I lived there it was pretty slummy! Not to bash Somerville.

People's perceptions of LA generally are totally based on Hollywood and that stuff, and that's not really where I live. I have a house in Silver Lake that I bought 12 years ago.  

>> READ: "Sebadoh return to the scene they helped invent" by Matt Parish <<

With the early Sebadoh records, you got a lot of attention for taking a lot of lo-fi punk aesthetics and turning them on their head, which hit a lot of people out of nowhere. But you must have had some sort of examples to follow, right? The band the Meat Puppets. The very first Meat Puppets recordings were like the craziest hardcore ever. Really fast and absolutely avant-garde noise hardcore. To my young ears, they were the pinnacle of hardcore. They were the best. They made the craziest, angriest, evilest-sounding records. But they also made these really dramatic switches with the style of music that they played. They turned into a country band, which was incredible. They were a hardcore band that mutated into a country band, and that made a huge impression on me.

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