July 14, 2005 at 11:59 am #48179
Pretty cool article, although, that 1st paragraph WaS deal…yeah right
Rock therapy with Dinosaur Jr.
On August 23, 1994, Lou BarlowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sebadoh released Bakesale (Sub Pop) to near-universal acclaim from the indie-rock press. Seven days later, on August 30, the band Barlow had once played bass in, J MascisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dinosaur Jr., delivered the last dying gasp of a once great outfit, the hollow, uninspired Without a Sound (Sire). It seemed Barlow had won the feud that had erupted when he was fired by Mascis, a year after Dinosaur Jr.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s most powerful release, 1988Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Bug (SST).
"I was obsessed to bring you down/Watching your every move/Playing a little-boy game/Always with something to prove/Waiting to cut you down" was one of BarlowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more pointed salvos on Sebadoh IIIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s "The Freed Pig" in 1992. And his tongue was in his cheek as he sang "Pedal-hopping like a dinosaur" in the genre-parodying Ã¢â‚¬â„¢91 single "Gimme Indie Rock." Listen closely to either and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll detect a grudging respect for Mascis along with a strong sense of self-abasement: "IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m self-righteous, but never right/So laid back, but so uptight/Destroying your patience to tolerate me/With all the negative spirit I bring." BarlowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feelings were hurt, his emotions mixed. Mascis fired back merely by producing the BreedersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ cover of "The Freed Pig." Or perhaps putting the screamed lines "Why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you like me?/What could be better?" in BarlowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mouth on the Mascis-penned Bug track "DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t" was the first shot.
Either way, the Barlow/Mascis communication breakdown became much ado about nothing. By 2003 theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d patched things up; last year Sebadoh shared a bill with Mascis at a benefit organized by LouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mom in Northampton. And when Merge decided to release remasters of the three albums by the original trio of Joseph "J" Mascis (guitar), Lou Barlow (bass), and Patrick "Murph" Murphy (drums), the three reunited for a national tour thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll hit Avalon on July 15. Indeed, Byron ColeyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s liner notes to the reissues hardly acknowledge the internal strife: "The music here [on Bug] shows the band moving into ever more orderly realms of composition and structure, even as anecdotal evidence suggests that they were coming apart at the physical seams."
"We were falling apart," Mascis admits from his home in Northampton. "We werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t getting along. My whole relationship with Lou was based on the fact that he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk. Then he got a girlfriend and started talking all the time: thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when the problems began. And he had Sebadoh, so he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to bring any songs to Dino. He thought weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ruin them. When he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talking, we got along; when he started talking, I started thinking that maybe I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like this guy or something . . . "
But Mascis is also the first to admit that he was "pretty anti-social in general. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve tried to be better about that. But people would freak out at me in college. One of my college roommates made what I thought was a good point about me. He said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI think they get freaked out because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not like youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re ignoring people, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re walking past them like they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even exist.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ "
Barlow also plays down the conflict: "We never really fought," he says over the phone from his LA home. "But a bad vibe hung over everything because it was all always about keeping J in an environment that he could control. When you get into situations like that, you do what you need to survive, which was to imitate the alpha male. J had more to say than people think. He was a genius and he was very funny. I was in his band and I felt lucky to be there. But when I found a life of my own, I started talking. I talked around other people, and MurphÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a talker too. So there were a lot of discussions going on when J wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t around. But when he was around, I learned to keep my mouth shut. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the thing I found most frustrating: JÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s personal comfort was more important than preserving the bandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sound. He was annoyed with me, and that was enough to dismiss the musical chemistry weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d developed. I wished he would like me because I was a good bass player. But he wanted silence. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want me yammering on about whatever you yammer on about when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 20."
Murph was, as he puts it when I reach him in NYC, "the mediator. At a certain point, J and Lou just wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk. It was okay because J had a vision and we all had a chemistry. It was pretty clear what that vision was, and I think it was pretty clear to Lou and me what we had to do to realize that vision. We never had to talk about it: we just understood. And we still do. When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re younger, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so much tension because your headÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all over the place. Being older, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nice to be able to just hang. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great to have this thing, this band, that you can wield like a sword."
Barlow maintained a high regard for Mascis. "J was really gifted. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a highly intelligent person. At that period, he was going to college and he had a lot of energy. I was working at a nursing home, and Murph was delivering pizzas. J was just a cool guy, and it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprise me that the cool people like Sonic Youth wanted to hang out with him. He was also never a liar. He was so honest. And I believe a lot of that came through on those three albums."
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s telling are the ways their versions of the past differ. Mascis thought Barlow was holding songs back for Sebadoh. Barlow saw it differently: "I was writing two-chord songs on what was basically a ukulele. J had helped me with the two electric songs I wrote for Dinosaur, especially with the lyrics. He was an excellent big brother. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a really personal process. You have to become personally involved when you collaborate with other people. I was releasing these cassettes in the hope that J would listen to them. But he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to care. He just seemed constantly really sick of me."
But Barlow does agree with MascisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s characterization of the years leading up to the dÃƒÂ©tente of 2003, when Barlow showed up to see Mascis play with the Stooges and Mike Watt in London, apologized to J, and was invited on stage to sing. "I apologized for yelling at him the last time I had seen him, and we had a nice time together. And I sang Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ1969,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I guess. It was so loud. I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been on stage with J in a long time, and nothing had changed: I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hear anything. I met his girlfriend, who is now his wife. And I got all kinds of back story on what had been going on. We just hung out. It was like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœWow, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m growing up and this is great.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ "
The yelling incident had taken place just a few years earlier at a Sebadoh show, as Mascis recounts. "At the Stooges show, he was apologizing for maybe having had some part to do with the problems between us. It was kind of like I was the big brother and he annoyed me and stuff, but not any more or less before or after he was in the band. So I would always go to his shows around here [Northampton] even though he never came to any of my shows. And then, like five years ago at a Sebadoh show, he completely freaked out and yelled at me, and it was as if nothing had changed in the 10 years since we had split up. So many things had changed for me, but it seemed like he was still back there in that mind set. His mom was like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhat happened?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢, and I said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI dunno, Mrs. Barlow.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I always liked his parents and got along with his parents better than I did with him," he adds with a final chuckle.
Issue Date: July 1 – 7, 2005July 20, 2005 at 6:15 pm #111007
I loved Without a Sound. The songwriting was simply amazing on that album, in my opinion. I never really dug Sebadoh.
The Avalon show was quite awesome.
I get the impression that Lou is a bit bitter of the fact that people who love Dinosaur Jr love it because of the signature songwriting of J. I dunno… I’m not like a rabid fan who knows everything about them.July 21, 2005 at 4:45 am #111008
I liked Sebadoh quite a bit and liked some Folk Implosion stuff, too. None of it stacks up to anything Dino put out though in my opinion. You’re absolutely right about Without a Sound, great songs on a great album.July 21, 2005 at 8:05 am #111009
oh come on listen to the freed weed and ingest.. you will be on the roof howling at the moon just like i did.July 21, 2005 at 8:13 am #111010
Without A Sound vs Bakesale
Harmacy vs Hand It Over
Hand It Over
Dino vs Sebadoh
DinoJuly 21, 2005 at 10:02 am #111011
andyfestParticipant"SG" wrote:Without A Sound vs Bakesale
Hmm….I disagree but respect the opinion. I think Bakesale is Sebadoh’s best but I still enjoy WaS more.
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