August 31, 2004

Interview: Sebadoh

Ahhh, Sebadoh! They were easily one of the best indie-rock bands of the 1990s, and though you'll soon see that they think their role in rock isn't that significant, both Sean and I (and i am sure you) will agree that they are simply selling themselves way too short. If you were ever an indie-rock boy with a broken heart or an indie-rock girl with a crush that didn't work out during the 1990s, then you probably were consoled by Sebadoh. That the 2000s haven't been so good for these guys is another story, but Jason and Lou's decision to get back together for a 'turbo-acoustic' tour was a wise one.

But I digress, there's a lot to read here and so I'm going to end this little introduction for a band for a band that needs no introduction. What you have here is a fun read, and I hope you enjoy. Thanks, guys, for talking to us, and no matter what you do or where you go, we'll always speak of love. Those who know, love Sebadoh!

JK: How’s the tour going?

JL: Good…but I just ran out of weed, though. It’s kinda tragic. We have to drive 900 miles tomorrow.

JK: Well, you’ll be in Austin soon.

JL: No, our next show’s in Albuquerque. That’s why we need some pot.

LB: It’s gonna be one of the most monotonous drives we’ve ever made in our lives.

JL: Yeah, I wanna be googly-eyed. (laughs)

JK: Did you guys have some shows canceled?

JL: No. It’s just life on the road, man.

LB: We already played Austin a couple of months ago. It was a one-off

JL So we can’t go back.

JK: They shut the doors on you.

JL: Yeah. They were like, “That’s it. We’ll see you next year.”
JK: “You’ve done the reunion thing, so get out.”

SP: Which cities have been to most receptive to the sets you’ve played as a duo?

LB: Omaha. Omaha was the absolute best.

JL: Yeah, it was the most amazing audience we’ve maybe ever had.

LB: Pretty close.

JL: (sarcastic) We’ve played hundreds of thousands of shows.

LB: It was remarkable.

JL: How about the worst? Do you wanna hear about the worst?

JK: Do you wanna tell us about the worst?

JL: Which one was the worst, Lou?

LB: Last night kinda sucked.

SP: Where’d you play last night?

JL: Dallas.

SP: I don’t know if you guys would agree with me, but Dallas always seems to have this weird, near-violent tension about it.

JL: I could see that.

SP: Dallas is the only place I’ve ever been to where people can get into a fight at a Stereolab show. (Everyone laughs) There was a fight right in the front of the audience. Laetitia stopped in the middle of a song and said, “We will not play until you stop fighting.” I really felt ashamed for all of America.

JL: Don’t try to bear the burden for all of America…please. (Laughs)

JK: You’d be violent too if there was nobody in your audience. That’s just how Dallas is.

SP: The Stereolab show was packed, though. Did you guys have a good turnout in Dallas?

JL: No.

LB: As a matter of fact, a lot of the middle America shows haven’t been very packed. It was very disappointing.

SP: Were any of these shows in cities that you haven’t played before?
LB: We’ve played every city already. (Everyone laughs) At least once.
We’ve even played Omaha before.

SP: You still haven’t come to Beaumont yet.

LB: We haven’t been to San Antonio either.

JL: Do you guys live in Beaumont?

SP: I do, unfortunately.

JK: You guys haven’t made the Lubbock trip yet.

SP: They don’t want to, dude.

JK: How does it feel to reunite after a couple of years of silence and the assumption of breaking up?

JL: We’re reunited…

JK: …and it feels so good.

JL: Reunited, and it’s understood. It’s a crock of shit, that song.
(Everyone laughs) Every time I think of that word, the song comes into my mind.

JK: Mine too.

JL: It’s pretty bad. It’s pretty good for the songwriter, though.

JK: Pretty bad for the interviewer. (Everybody laughs)

JL: Yeah, ’cause now we’re just joking about it.

JK: Well, when you put out your solo record, did you think that two years from now you’d be doing this with Lou again?

JL: I really didn’t know. It was so up in the air. There wasn’t any huge animosity in the air between us, so anything could’ve happened.

LB: I didn’t really stress about it. Some opportunities popped up and
I took them. It seemed like a good reason. I was kind of missing Jason after the last leg of my Folk Implosion tour.

JK: Ex sex is always the best, right?

JL: We don’t have sex.

LB: We don’t have exes either. Well, Jake does.

JK: (Mischievously) So you have no exes…so I guess that makes your whole career a sham, huh?

LB: Huh? (everybody laughs)

SP: Boo on that, Joseph.
LB: What do you mean? Are you saying that all of my songs alluding to romantic relationships are, now that the revelation is that I’ve only---

JK: Well, you’ve saved my life recently.

LB: I did? Where were we? (Everyone laughs)

SP: You were there in spirit.

JL: We were really wasted, and we were swimming in the quarry… (Tons more laughing)

JK: Well, I gave you these roofies, and you were just kinda…

JL: Jesus.

SP: I wanted to ask if there was a small set of songs you’re concentrating on for this tour, or if the set is a more “anything goes” kind of thing.

LB: It’s a small group of songs. We have prepared beats, so we’re kinda tied to those. We do 22 or 23 songs and we stick to those.

SP: What criteria did you use in choosing them? Are you focusing on the most well-known songs or the ones that you like the most or theones that are easiest to play…

JL: I guess the ones that we like the most.

LB: Jake said what songs he wanted to play, and I told him which songs
I wanted to play…

JL: …and we hashed out 23 beats.

JK: (sarcastic) So how’s the drummer working out?

JL: He’s working out great, ‘cause it’s me. (Laughs) I really like him. I like this drummer. I get along with him pretty well.

JK: What compelled you to use prerecorded beats for this tour?

LB: We don’t have a drummer.

JL: And I’m a drummer!
SP: Have you tried to find a third member to play drums?

LB: There was no way. We didn’t have any time to do anything like that.

JL: It was born of necessity.

LB: Getting somebody to come play drums with us and try to figure it out in a week, and then touring with him trying to be Sebadoh seemed completely bogus to us.

JL: I wouldn’t have wanted to do that.

LB: And even if we got Russ, who played drums on the last record…he barely plays drums anymore. I wouldn’t want to go out with somebody who hasn’t been playing. Also, if we were gonna get somebody who could fit and who could pull it off, we would’ve had to pay him a lot of money…and there’s just no money around right now.

JL: We can’t afford a drummer. It’s interesting. I was thinking last night that it’s not necessarily that we can’t afford one, but it was born out of necessity to make the drum tape…and then there’s somebody like Tom Heinl, who’s opening up for us. He could tour with other people to do his music, but it would be completely prohibitive. You just have to do what you have to do, and a lot of the time nowadays, it’s making backing tracks, just to make it possible for you to pull your own stuff off.

JK: Were you hesitant at first about this approach, or did you just say “F*uk it” and just do it?

JL: I actually thought it was gonna be goofy and hard to do, but it’s actually been good. It’s an exercise…

JK: …because you’re the drummer.

JL: That, and the fact that there’s absolutely no improvisation.
There’s no leaving a verse open or taking liberties with solos, which we used to do a lot with Sebadoh. The drummer would just pick up on the fact that we’re making some space and it helped us make every night a little different, and just go with the flow.

JK: How have people reacted to that?

LB: I don’t think anyone’s gonna tell us what they really think.
(Everybody laughs)

JL: “You guys need a drummer, man!”

JK: As long as it’s not Greg Ginn bad. (Greg Ginn did a Black Flag reunion in which everything was prerecorded.)

SP: There was a drummer, but the bass was prerecorded.

JL: That was really weird.

JK: It was a so-called benefit show, but everyone in the audience was throwing things at him.

LB: I’ve played with prepared beats before, and I think it’s got a certain charm to it. Sebadoh actually did it before. Eric and I did it. We kicked Jason out of the band so that we could make more money for two shows. Eric recorded the beats onto cassette, and we played on top of that. That was years ago. I think it’s kinda fun. Some people say that it’s the most “Sebadoh” Sebadoh show they’ve ever seen.

JL: I think it has something to do with it being so much more basic.
The beats are done on floor tom and snare, basically, so it sounds like the earlier stuff. Even the later material we do is done in that style.

LB: It’s kinda weird, ‘cause I’ve heard some live tapes of some shows that we’ve done, and there are certain songs in which you can’t tell that there’s no drummer. Some people definitely would have a big issue with it. They’ve got a lot of rules.

JL: I don’t understand that, ‘cause there’s no purism to this band at all. We’ve toured every possible kind of way --- with a drummer, with no drummer, with a drum machine, with fuckin’ samples…

LB: …In a bus, in a car, in a van, on a plane, on a boat…

JK: The big question is: Are you two guys having fun?

LB: Oh God, yeah.

JL: I’m having more fun on the road than I ever did.

LB: It’s real simple. It’s just the two of us, so there’s no group dynamic. It’s not like two guys against one. We don’t really have anybody to bitch to, which is great.

JK: Just two buds and some bud in the car…well, except for tonight. (Everybody laughs)

JL: I don’t think we’re gonna be able to do this again, but it’s real fun.

JK: Is this kind of a final farewell fling for the Sebadoh?

JL: I wouldn’t say that. We don’t have any plans, but we never broke up so…

JK: You’re just keeping with the plan.

JL: We’re keeping with the plan of no plan. Exactly! We’ve always just done whatever. To make any pronouncements saying, “This is the end,” is just bullshit.

LB: Times change and people’s minds change. There’s no reason to make those kinds of proclamations.

JK: Unless you just want to get the big burst of last tour cash.

JL: Exactly! There are people who do that all the time. “Final tour!”

JK: Guided by Voices.

JL: GBV…the Ramones did it a couple of times, I think. It’s just trying to get attention. It’s such bullshit. “Come to the show or you’ll never see us again…”

JK: …Until the next reunion show!” It just seems like…

SP: …like a con?

JL: Yeah, it does. It seems like a con.

JK: So are you a little bit reticent when you hear people call it “the Sebadoh reunion tour”?

JL: They can call it whatever they want. As long as they come, I don’t care. I don’t care what they complain about or what they call it as long as people actually bother to come.

SP: Have you seen any patterns as far as the kind of people who come to your shows? Do you get the same crowds that you did 10 years ago, or do you see a new generation of people seizing an opportunity to pick up on Sebadoh? I ask this because I’ve spent years and years listening to Sebadoh, but I never had the opportunity to see you as a trio ’cause I’m 23. I ended up turning some of my teenage cousins on to Sebadoh, which is why I ask if there are any younger people coming to the shows.

JL: It’s definitely going on.

LB: There’s not a whole lot, but there are a few. It’s kinda weird.
They’re like, “You guys got me through seventh grade…”

JL: “…which was last year!” (everybody laughs)

LB: “I’ve been waiting 10 years for you guys to show up.”

JL: “Since I was three!”

LB: It’s a weird, scattered mix of some people who’ve seen us five or six times and younger people who’ve never seen us because they couldn’t get into our shows when they were little.

SP: I’m definitely in the latter group. My first exposure to you was Bubble and Scrape, and I think I was 11. (Everybody laughs)

LB: That’s nuts, man.

JL: Wow. Sebadoh at age 11...that’s pretty cool!

LB: Thinking back on it, I would imagine myself hearing my band for the first time and then make records that try to capture that feeling. I always thought that Sebadoh would be a pretty cool band to discover if you were really little (chuckling). It would give you a really unique perspective on music if you started with Sebadoh.

SP: I can speak for a lot of people when I say that listening to Sebadoh helped give me the impetus to make my own music. I hate using this phrase ‘cause it sounds pretentious, but it’s what I call “the democratization of art.” You just use whatever tools you have available and do what comes naturally.

LB: That’s a really good way to sum us up. When people say that they’re influenced by Sebadoh, then that’s usually how. It opens them up to say, “Wow, you can do anything! Everybody can write songs, and anything can happen.” It’s really cool, as opposed to merely trying to sound like Sebadoh. It’s better to influence people philosophically. I like that.

JK: Or, to paraphrase a great man, you care more about whether it sounds heartfelt than whether it sounds like shit or not. (Everybody laughs, especially Lou, who nearly goes into convulsions) (This comment is in reference to a tape of the band ranting and saying wacky things over found sounds that they would play while setting up for shows in the early 1990s. It’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever hear, and can be found on Sub Pop sampler Curtis W. Pitts: Sub Pop Employee of the Month--ed.)

JL: That’s my favorite line on that tape.

JK: The past: it always comes to bite you in the ass.

LB: That’s my crowning achievement. That show tape is probably my
favorite thing I’ve ever done.

JL: I’m shocked that you brought that up.

LB: I have an uncensored version of it that’s about 20 minutes long.

JL: There’s some off shit on that one, if you can imagine what we actually left out of that one…

JK: This coming from two guys who are notorious for doing things as “lo-fi” as possible…

JL: It’s some raw shit.

LB: I recorded that show tape with the drum beats. Eric was like, “Jason’s not in the band anymore,” and I said we could play the next two shows as a duo…but we needed something in between the beats. I just started doing, “Sebadoh! Eric and Lou,” and that’s how it began. That was the first time we had toured with the prepared beats. I should’ve brought the tape out again, but I was too lazy. (Everybody laughs)

JK: Maybe next tour. (More laughing) How do you feel about going back to the past and talking about it? There’s a nostalgic look back at the ‘90s going on right now, with the recent Pavement reissues and all of these old bands coming back onto the scene. Is there any temptation to do a Sebadoh retrospective? Are we gonna see a triple-disc of Bakesale, for instance?

JL: We’ve been battling Eric Gaffney for years about it. He won’t let anything be re-released. He thinks we owe him a lot of money.

LB: Yeah, it sucks.

JL: The money was invisible at first…and it continues to be, ‘cause it was never there.

LB: The saddest part about Sebadoh was that we’ve always been a democracy. Everybody got paid equally and everybody got to do whatever they wanted. Somehow, though, as Jason and I continued we’ve begun to leave behind a trail of embittered people…who are angry! Not only have they gotten everything they’ve wanted from us and more, but to this day they’re harboring these insane grudges because we just kept going without them. They’d say “I quit” or “I’m not playing,” but once they retreated from us we’d continue without them. Then, they’d forever hold a grudge against us for continuing without them. Everyone had so much power in the band, but when one person thought they had to power to stop the band, they didn’t! Jason and I never wanted to stop. We wanted to keep going because that’s what you have to do. This is what we chose to do, so we have to continue. You can’t be throwing hissy-fits, saying “I quit” or “I can’t deal with this” or “I gotta get out of town.” No! You’re going on tour, and we’re gonna do records because this is what we have to do. This is not a fuckin’ joke. We gotta make this happen in some regard…I’m not saying “make it happen” as in “make it big,” but “make it happen,” as in survive.

SP: Do you feel as if Sebadoh is a living, breathing entity that’s bigger than the sum of its parts?

LB: Absolutely, especially since we all wrote songs. I’ve done plenty of solo shows, as well as other shows in which I’m the leader of a band, but it’s nothing like Sebadoh. It’s special.

SP: Do you think that it may be a little too soon for a ‘90s revival anyway? Whenever I see VH1’s “I Love the ‘90s” special it freaks me out a bit.

JL: It’s way too early for me. (Laughs)

SP: In light of all the other older bands getting back into the scene, this feels comparatively more organic, like it’s something that needed to happen instead of any sort of cash-in.

JL: Right, because there’s absolutely no record company machinery behind us whatsoever right now…not one shred. Not even a single poster was made by a record label we’ve ever been in…

JK: …and the smile on Lou’s face says it all! (laughs)

JL: We’re paying for our own publicity, which is rather homespun. We have no crew. It’s just completely back to basics. We’re not doing a box set and then getting the band back together, like, getting Polvo back together to join us on a road show.

SP: Yet another great band that I never got to see live.

LB: Their farewell tour was really good. I saw their last few shows, and they were better than they ever were.

SP: I have a cassette of their last ever show, and it made me want to cry ‘cause I wanted to be there. (Everybody laughs)

JK: Are you guys still doing stuff with Sub Pop?

JL: Never again, ever. (laughs)

JK: Lou, you’re doing stuff with Merge now. How’s that?

LB: It’s great. The record hasn’t come out yet, though. Initially, we used to play with Polvo and Superchunk all the time. It’s kinda cool.
Superchunk is still happening and Mac’s running the label…unlike Sub
Pop, in which most of the people who make the decisions aren’t musicians.

SP: Merge strikes me as one of the most artist-friendly labels going at the moment because it’s run by people who can see both the artistic and the business sides of things. They do it right --- the records get around, and people get to hear them.

JK: They’re doubly good for an artist like you in that if you want to do one project, you can do it and if you want to do another project, you can do that as well. There isn’t a rush or a push for a new Sebadoh record. Things just get done on their own time. That’s just how Mac is…

LB: He’s got a lot of really nice people who work with him and keep the label really organized, and Mac is just generally a spazz…in a good way, of course. He’s what I remembered him to be in the beginning. He’s busy and involved with stuff. He believes in the same ethics…the way that I got into independent music was through Dischord, Touch and Go, and hardcore bands, and that’s where he came from too. It’s kinda cool. I’ll do my best for them. I feel even more like I want to do the best I can for Merge because the label’s modest and realistic.

JK: The million dollar question, which I’m sure you’ve heard quite a bit on this tour--and you’ll hear again right now--is will there be another Sebadoh record?

JL: (sarcastic) I can’t believe you asked that. I have no idea. It’s really uncertain.

LB: It depends on if we can make it work. If there’s a way that’s easy --- not as in “easy to make music,” because the music’s always gonna be intense to make. It’s like, “Do we have the time to do it? Where would we record it? How could we make it without any pressure?”

JL: I don’t think we’re ever gonna rush into anything. We’re way too smart. We’ve learned a lot in the last 15 years, and we’re not gonna take any wooden nickels from anybody. That’s a good thing, though. We’re also not expecting that much; we have modest needs.

JK: Lou, I understand that you and your wife are expecting?

LB: Yeah.

JK: Have you thought about any advice you would give to your child if he or she were to decide to make music?

LB: If my child wanted to start a band?

JL: Wear earplugs. (Everybody laughs)

LB: Save your receipts. (More laughter)

SP: That’s actually pretty good advice.

LB: All the shit that I didn’t do --- document, document, document.
Don’t trust anybody. (More laughter) Love them, be great friends with them, but don’t ever assume that they’re never gonna turn on you…’cause they will. They will turn on you. It’s just human nature…especially when you’re doing something as bizarre as making a living being a band and being creative. All of the rules are out of the window and no one knows how to behave. It would be good to keep records and document, which I never did. That’s my only real regret, that I never made real hard documents of what was actually occurring because…

JK: …you were too busy having fun?

LB: I was too busy having fun, and all was good and everyone was happy.
In the end, though, people go back and try to rewrite history according to whatever story they were trying to tell. They’ll go back and pick out whatever details they can find and use them. It’s just a sad fact.
Unfortunately, with music it also becomes entwined with money, which brings out the absolute worst in people.

JK: Do you think that the Internet’s been a big saving grace for you? I know you’ve got lots of stuff on Loobiecore.

LB: In a way, it’s totally destroyed my career. As far as making any money selling records, everything’s been destroyed because people aren’t gonna buy Sebadoh records if they can get them online. Information is disseminated so quickly that if one person doesn’t like something, they tell everybody else and it turns even more people off to it. In one way, it’s destroyed us, but in another way I love it. I think it’s great. I have no problem with file-sharing and all that shit, but to be realistic, it’s totally dismantled how I make a living.

JK: It’s one thing if you’re like Sean, a guy who’s making stuff in his bedroom and having fun doing that. It’s another thing if you have record deals…

LB: Once it becomes your life and your livelihood…the Internet is amazing way to spread rumors and innuendo, and also a great way to share new things with people, but once you’re not new anymore it becomes a detriment. I don’t have any problem with it, and I think it should happen. I’m all for free music, but to be honest, it’s devastating.
JK: Has anyone who’s downloaded your stuff come to you at a show and expressed any sort of remorse about it by offering you money? I’m starting to see younger kids say to themselves, “Hey, this is wrong…”

JL: I haven’t met that kid yet. (Laughs) There’s only a handful of those guys.

SP: I download stuff, but if I like it I go and buy it.

LB: That’s what I do, too, but a lot of people don’t have that kind of money. It’s all about money. When I was 15 to 17, I had no money. I had no money until I was around 24 or 25.

JK: You know what I miss? Getting a magazine like Re-flex or Forced Exposure and buying 7-inches.

SP: Do you miss the tangibility?

JK: I just miss the idea of taking two bucks, putting it in an envelope, mailing it to somebody who sounds cool, and getting a record in the mail two weeks later.

LB: (smiles) That’s how I discovered music. I did the same thing. “Hey, that sounds cool…” When I moved to Boston, there were great record stores. I’d be like, “That looks cool, and it’s on this label. I’ll try it!” We had great college radio where we grew up. College radio was awesome back then, but now you can download shit.

JK: Now you can have everything, and there’s no personal touch to it.

LB: Well, I don’t agree with that.

JK: You don’t get the same kind of excitement when you have everything at your disposal.

LB: (Sarcastic) Maybe you don’t. (laughs) There are a few sites, like John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone site, in which the webmaster gets permission from all of these bands to put their songs up. I heard so many great bands that way…like the Walkmen, whom I didn’t think I would like until I heard an mp3 of theirs. The Starlight Mints, too. Because I make my living as a musician, I have to keep listening to new music, so that’s what I spend my
money on.
JK: Well, there’s one more thing that I wanted to ask. How do you feel about the upcoming Dinosaur Jr. reissues?

LB: I feel great!

JK: Are there any lost tapes that we’ll get to hear?

LB: I found one cassette of us doing a Neil Young cover, but I put that on my website, but that’s the only thing I can think of. We released everything that we finished. Anything that J Mascis finished we ended up putting out.

JK: Personally, I’m excited about it.

LB: It would be nice if people really understood how insanely influential J Mascis was as a guitar player and a songwriter, because I think that he almost single-handedly invented…you know that Radiohead song “Creep” where it goes (imitates “chinka-chinka” guitar sound before the song’s chorus)? J did that. That’s what J did. His perspective on guitar and recording completely brought about My Bloody Valentine and all that shit. He started. He did it. I was playing with him and I was part of it, but he was the mastermind. I really don’t think that people realize what he’s done. It would be nice if those records came out and people were like, “Whoa…that’s crazy.” People don’t know. They’re talking about (sarcastic) the Pixies. The Pixies were fuckin’ bullshit to us back then. (laughs) We were like, “The Pixies? Who the fuck cares about the Pixies?” They were so light, whereas Dinosaur was fuckin’…HEAVY. We were just this heavy mess of deep, deep sound. The Pixies’ songs were jokey and the sound was light. That’s the way I felt back then. I like them now, but seriously…we were opposed to the Pixies back then.

JK: I always thought of them as like a male Throwing Muses.

LB: Not even that good! (Everyone laughs) Throwing Muses were scary. The Pixies weren’t really…they were the Pixies! That’s what they sounded like to me---pixies, even now! It’s great as a concept, but I think that it’s a little strange that Dinosaur and what J did became completely forgotten because everybody like the Pixies. I don’t sense a lot of emotion coming out of those songs, whereas with Dinosaur it was just…blargh! It was some heavy shit.

JK: We were listening to Ear Bleeding Country: The Best of Dinosaur Jr on the way up here, and we were amazed with how fresh it still sounds.

LB: I know! He was a genius. J was just an absolute genius…just unbelievable.

JK: Would you work with him again?

LB: Maybe.

JK: I know you’re sharing labels now.

LB: Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. He was a nice guy…we get along now. I’ve kinda gotten over a lot of the bad shit that happened between us.

JK: That comes with maturity.

LB: Exactly.

SP: I made a joke before meeting you guys that there should be some sort of unholy “Sebadoh Jr.” triumvirate in which Jason and J Mascis alternate as the drummer and the three of you play Sebadoh and Dinosaur, Jr songs. (Everybody laughs)

JL: (Amazed) Jesus, that’s awesome.

LB: (Even more amazed) Holy shit, that’s an incredible idea! Wow. That’s kinda funny.

JK: Let’s hope it wouldn’t get too intense on stage.

LB: That would be really funny. I could switch between bass and guitar, and Jason and J could switch between drums…but then J would have to learn Sebadoh songs. They’re really simple, though.

SP: He can do it. I know how to play Sebadoh songs on drums.

LB: Jason knows how to play Dinosaur songs on drums. That would be interesting. That’s a fascinating idea, you guys! (Laughter) That could be the closest thing we’ll have to an actual reunion.

JK: Then you could make as much money as the Pixies! (Laugh)

LB: But J is really picky about his drummers, so I don’t know if he’d like Jason’s playing.

JL: That’s awesome.

JK: You’d have to get a restraining order to keep Eric out of the bar. (Laughter)

JL: He’ll keep himself out. He’s very good at it. He’s kept himself out of it many times.

LB: “I’m out of the band.”

JL: “Oh, my God! Again?”

LB: “I’m kicking myself out of the band.”

JK: But it’s good to see that you guys are having fun playing your songs…which is basically what you’ve been doing since day one.

LB: Yeah. It’s gotten a little complicated here and there, but that’s what we’re doing.

JK: Have you ever got up in the morning and said to yourself, “Wow…I’ve been doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life for the last 15 years”? Do you ever think about how lucky you are to have that?

LB: Absolutely. It’s not even that I wake up thinking that, but it’s in my mind all the time. It can be pressure sometimes, because I want to continue to do that but I can’t rest on anything that I’ve done. It’s great, but there’s nothing stable about it. In order to make it stable, I have to travel and work my ass off all the time. I have to constantly pull out new ideas--which can be totally fun but can be extremely confusing. It’s tough to balance relationships around it…

JK: …especially with the added dimension of having a child.

LB: Yeah, that’s gonna be really interesting.

JK: Maybe it’s time for another “Natural One.”

LB: (laughs) Goddamn, I wish. That would be great. I’d love that.
I’d love it if someone liked my music and started buying my records. That would be fantastic.

JK: Some advice that a friend of mine gave me once, which you might be an example of, is that soundtracks are the way to go.

LB: Nah, they steal all of your publishing. It’s not the way to go. They actually took half of my publishing from that album just because we did it for that movie, which was actually pretty fucking bogus.

JK: I remember talking to Eric Bachmann about when he was on the My So-Called Life soundtrack and he said, “Here’s a label that’s gonna offer us $20,000 for a song we recorded three years ago, for a song that only appears for a few seconds on the show.”

LB: Well, that’s different. We’re talking about recording a soundtrack. Bands like the Shins and any kind of new indie band can survive on something like $20,000 a pop, but nothing on that level has ever happened to me. When I hear Death Cab for Cutie in a fuckin’ ad, it’s like, “Good for them!” It’s not like they’re hurting, but it can still keep them afloat.

JK: So do you guys have to leave and get ready for your show?

JL: Nope. Our soundman’s at a baseball game. It’s the seventh inning right now.

JK: Well, it certainly beats having your door person walk across the
street to see another show.

SP: Yeah, that happened to me this past Sunday. I played a show to 12 people while the door person walked across the street to see Grand Buffet.

JL: Ouch, that’s terrible.

JK: That’s why you have to build up a reputation for being drunk and stupid on stage.

JL: That always brings ‘em. Nothing like getting drunk assholes to spur interest…like… (Everybody laughs) Oops…I dissed them again. I almost stopped living the last time I said something bad
about them.

JK: Too bad the tape can’t catch the evil grin on Jason’s face right now.

SP: I could probably draw it. (More laughter) I wanted to ask you guys about your solo material. Lou, is your record done?

LB: Yeah, I’m going to master it when I get home.

SP: Is there anything new that people who are already familiar with your work can expect?

LB: I don’t really know. You’ll just have to hear it. It has little bits of everything I’ve ever done in it. Jason plays on a couple of songs.

SP: Jason, are you still working on your own stuff?

JL: Yeah, when I get back from this trip I’m gonna hunker down, pick out what I’ve got that’s good and embellish the rest. I want to make another record before the winter.

SP: Are you going to play all of the instruments on this one, or will you have your touring band?

JL: There are a couple of songs I’ve been doing that sound better with Kevin and Bob (Jason’s rhythm section), but if I can’t get all three of us in the studio together I’m not gonna worry about it.(A woman walks by and gives Jason props for his “Emo Sucks” T-shirt. Everyone laughs.)

JK: Is that the official Sebadoh theme for the tour?

JL: I think that Lou’s kinda pissed off about it, because people have been coming up to him and telling him that he’s “the Godfather of Emo.” It’s a strange crown to have put on you.

JK: Better that than to be called “the Grandfather of Emo.”

SP: It’s not even historically accurate.

JK: But the media doesn’t care about accuracy!

LB: We’ve been talking about it. Emo began in 1985 with Rites of Spring. They called it “emo,” and it’s been around for f*ckin’ ever. I have no idea how I got lumped in with that…but Fugazi liked Sebadoh and we played with them a bunch.

JK: So you don’t feel responsible for starting the whole “lo-fi” recording scene?

SP: (Rolls eyes) No…

LB: Well, maybe…but I don’t see it. None of our stuff ever became that popular. (Um, Lou, “Natural One?”—ed)

JK: So you don’t ever listen to kids like Bright Eyes, who start off making songs in their bedrooms, and wonder if they were inspired by stuff that you did?

LB: No. (Laughs) It would be nice, but I think that there are other bands that are far more influential. The Pixies, Pavement--that’s the shit that really influences people. Sebadoh gives people the idea, “Maybe I can do this,” but Pavement gives people the idea, “That’s what I want to sound like!” Then, they go through the steps to try to sound exactly like that.

SP: Maybe there’s some sort of connection here. I remember when you were talking about how intense Dinosaur Jr. was, which makes me think there might be some sort of divide between the cerebral and the emotional. Sebadoh and Dinosaur would be on one side, and the Pixies and Pavement would be on the other. The Pixies and Pavement wrote more about intellectual conceits, whereas you and J wrote about things you were going through.

LB: Right…and that was some scary stuff. The Pixies and Pavement are not scary. They’re fun, and they have a sense of inclusiveness about them that draws people to them. Sebadoh, on the other hand, is about living through it all over again…and people don’t really want them. People don’t want to live through all the bad shit.

JK: Sebadoh made making it look easy look easy! (Everybody laughs)

LB: Wow. (Stunned silence)

JK: Yeah, it takes a second to sink in. (More laughter)

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