Listing the Ramones and Minor Threat as main influences,
Barlow describes Sebadoh's music as "modest, punk rock,
a folk rock kind of thing, folk funk, funk folk, a little bit
edgy, heavy folk.
"Really all of those things, we're just like minimalists,
which I like, I don't like structure, we don't really have that
much of a sound as a sound, we sound like so many different things.
In many ways we're not that far removed from a band like Oasis
only they're much better at doing what they do, blowing it all
More often than not, however, critics describe them as the founders
of lo-fi, a distinctly American kind of music which sounds at
best raw, at worst badly produced. Barlow's real claim to fame came when thrown out of Dinosaur Junior
"J. Mascis never really liked me," he insists.
The band, who set out to be alternative, are constantly criticised
for their ability to produce two-thirds of a good album and no
more, thus scuppering any chances of mainstream success. The
new album "Harmacy" is the very same, sometimes brilliant,
sometimes infuriatingly bad.
"I couldn't do an album of all the stuff the reviewers like,
to me it would be incredibly boring. I don't like all pop songs.
I've never liked that, I don't think pop is the be-all and end-all
of everything, I'm not going to change my music in any way that
"I try to do what I like, but at the same time I've always
tried to play music for people, it's for other people. I don't
want to be famous just for fame's sake, if people like my music,
that's fine, I could deal with that, but money isn't fame - it's
"You can get five stars all the time in" Rolling Stone"
and not necessarily sell any records, it doesn't make any difference.
It all comes down to whether people actually like your music;
and the people who like Sebadoh and understand the punk rock and
mellow songs split together. Those are the people that come to
see us play."
1995 saw Sebadoh hit the big-time with Lou Barlow's musical score
to Larry Clark's controversial film "Kids".
"The screenwriter contacted me years ago, he was going to
make a movie, slowly it happened. I'm happy with the soundtrack,
the film is not that great though.
"Sound-tracks, though, are in general awful, throw all these
commercial alternative bands on a tape in order to promote them,
I don't like these kinds of wanky bands, wanky pop music is terrible.
It's all label politics, management, and companies. It's kinda
weird, with "Kids" it was a creative decision to use us,
and we scored it in a classical sense."
Lou Barlow's childhood couldn't have been more different to the
characters in that particular film. His growing up influenced
him greatly. "I grew up in small-town Massachusetts and
as a teenager was straight-edge. Any place you live in, your environment
influences you. It wasn't really that small though, big enough
that I was totally anonymous and had no friends."
His adult life though has been slightly more interesting, "I
did cocaine with Courtney Love in Reading, that was a really bad
time. I was really drunk and very depressed."
But Barlow, now married, seems to have left his bohemian youth
"I've settled down a lot, I'm 30 and I'm that bit older,
people who do drugs in music, that's very sad. It seems like
a lot of bands that are really popular are very tortured people.
I feel sad for them, they're under a lot of pressure, becoming
famous really fucks with your mind. Fame really screws up the
whole social order of things."
by Ken Foxe.