Lou Barlow on Sentridoh, Dino Jr and new Sebadoh
Weed Forestin' reissued to original 4-track tapes
Having reunited with both his pervious bands Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, indie stalwart Lou Barlow has decided to revisit his earliest solo recordings with the reissue of Sentridoh’s 1987 cassette album, Weed Forestin’. A low-fi and casual affair, Barlow returned to Weed Forestin’ by restoring his original first generation four-track tapes. The reissue also includes a collection of songs from that same time period that were never released, as well as alternate versions and, “extended tape collages.” SanDiego.com had a chance to speak with Barlow from his home in Los Angeles while on break from recording the new Dino Jr. album and talked about the Sentridoh reissue, the new Sebadoh album and LSD.
How long have you been contemplating reissuing the Sentridoh album?
Lou Barlow: I’ve been thinking about doing this for a really long time. Probably since it was released. When I initially mastered and pressed it, they totally butchered it and made it sound more low-fi than it actually was and it was very frustrating.
Is the reissue for Harmacy still going to happen?
I don’t know. I mean I really haven’t done any work on it, and I don’t really have much enthusiasm for that record. It’s kind of hard to get really excited about it.
How old were you when you recorded Weed Forestin’?
I’d say between the ages of 19 and 21 probably.
When you revisited the material, was there anything that stood out listening to that music so many years later?
I didn’t go back and try to clean it up or anything. I just wanted the original cassettes to speak for themselves. I was kind of surprised of how relaxed I sounded on a lot of it. When I’m singing, my voice sounds really relaxed. For the record having such a reputation of this like, nervous, self-conscious piece or whatever youthful anxiety-ridden thing, I thought I sounded pretty relaxed and kind of confident.
How often do you listen to your own music when you’re not recording or rehearsing?
Not much. I used to a lot. I used to listen to my own stuff a lot, just to get my bearings as far as what I wanted to do next. Especially stuff from that particular period; I let a lot the idiosyncrasies of my style kind of come out then. There’s a lot of different strumming styles that I was using. I always felt that early period of my work was pretty distinctive, so I would kind of go back and listen to it a lot when I was younger. But now I don’t because I don’t have time, and I’ve got a lot of other things to do.
Do you still have the guitar you recorded Weed Forestin’ with?
Yeah. The ukulele that I recorded most of it on, Murph, from Dinosaur, he sat on it in the Dinosaur van so it was destroyed then. The other guitar I used on it I still use and I still record with it.
Will there be any special Sentridoh shows for this reissue?
I think I might play at a record shop here in LA in a couple of weeks. We sort of put out the feelers to put on a Skype kind of a tour, but we didn’t get a very good response to that so I don’t think we’re going to do that. I’m doing a tour of Australia soon and I always bring my ukulele and I always play those songs.
How was the Dinosaur Jr. tour with Henry Rollins?
It was pretty funny. It’s cool because he’s a huge J. Mascis fan. He loves J’s solo work, he loves Dinosaur Jr. He’s a huge record collector so he’s really knowledgeable. He’s so Ernst in a public stage like that, and so thorough in his approach that it was a treat for me.
Do your kids ever listen to your music?
They hate it when I sing. They hear me singing and they start crying. They’re not fans.
Have you wrapped up recording on the new Dinosaur Jr. album?
Yeah we’re in the midst of it. I came home for a week, just so I could be with my family for a week, then I’m going back to resume recording. I think right now J is probably working on overdubs, and we got maybe six or seven drum takes done - which means the basic skeleton of the song. So we made some really good progress while I was out there. It’s going really well actually.
Any tentative titles for the album yet?
God no. J decides that stuff in the last minute. That sort of decision is so weighted. He figures that out at the last possible moment.
After you’re done recording with Dino Jr., Sebadoh is heading over to play the ATP in England. Will you be doing any solo sets there as well?
I made some kind of forays into asking but they don’t want me to play. It’s not happening.
Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing or hanging out with?
I always love to see Joanna Newsome, so that’s one of the many things I want to see. I can’t remember the whole lineup. Robyn Hitchcock is going to be there, and we did a tour together years ago with The Flaming Lips and we got along really well so it’ll be nice to see him. I love ATP. I always have a good time when I go there. I’m looking forward to it.
Can you shed any light on if there will be a new Sebadoh album in the future?
Yeah, we’re recording the first week of April. My kids have spring break so my wife has graciously agreed to take the children and herself to Washington D.C. to visit my sister for a week. Jason and Bob are going to come and we’re going to see what we can bang out in maybe two weeks of recording.
So you’re going to record the new Sebadoh album in your home in Los Angeles?
I have a studio too. I have a spot in a friend’s garage that I can also record in. We’re just going to take over the house and the studio for a few days and see what happens.
Are you already locked in with Sub Pop to release this new Sebadoh album?
No it’s pretty up in there air. Sub Pop I don’t think would be interested. I think I would probably like Domino Records. They’ve always been good to us and they probably wouldn’t mind losing more money on us, so that’s probably where we’ll go.
Does Lou Barlow have a message for the children?
Don’t do acid. Because I have kids now and I’m looking back at my life and the people that I’ve known and I’m like, ‘Wow. Acid really sucks.’ Acid has actually made several people in my life exacerbate their mental illness or caused significant problems. I’m just scared to death of my kids doing acid.