March 8, 2005 at 11:42 am #47676
The Gothamist Band Interview: Lou Barlow
Lou Barlow, the pioneer of lo-fi indie, the leader of Sebadoh, Folk Implosion and Sentridoh, former bass player for Dinosaur Jr, is returning to simplicity. Or perhaps visiting it for the first time. His new album, Emoh, is (technically) his debut DIY solo effort. Confessional "me" ballads delivered by the quintisential singer/songwriter armed with a guitar. Barlow is ever the prolific wordsmith with a punk rock heart, spinning us tales of troubled times and silver linings. This man soundtracked much of our lives from high school onward, so we’ll be soaking in nostalgia and newness tomorrow night as he performs at the Mercury Lounge, more info on that and his new album after the interview.
If we were interviewing you in person right now, we’d congratulate you and your wife on the new baby and perhaps banter about how that’s changed your life. But since this is sort of one-sided due to the nature of email, we’ll simply congratulate you and if you have any comments on your new parental wisdom please feel free to enlighten us…
baby formula is 30 percent corn syrup…because my wife experienced serious complications from the birth she was unable to breastfeed for nearly two weeks, in the meantime, lacking a wet-nurse, the baby was fed formula…she seems to like the sweetened soy-milk over the real thing now.
Okay…so we had a chance to catch your set at CMJ last year just before Arcade Fire went on (thanks to you both, the Merge showcase was a highlight for us). You seemed pretty happy about the new pedals you were working with, how many effects can we expect at upcoming shows?
well, i had plans to become a crazy one-man band and play bass with my foot…but i don’t want to pay for extra baggage on the plane and i’m not sure the pedal board will survive transport…i am ambivalent about incorporating extras. my sampling pedal works OK but it distracts me from singing…i’ll be doing an identical version of what you saw at the mercury, basically…i’d love to have lots of gimmicks ’cause i know people love that shit but i tend to default to the simple dude+guitar approach. it’s not as glamourous or arty but it always sounds good. putting myself at the mercy of gadgets for the sake of appearing clever seems a not-so-great-an idea at the moment. i have an overwhelming urge to keep things simple.
The website Guitar Geek has some nice visuals of different musicians set ups for live shows. Can you give us a lexical visual of your set up this tour?
dude…guitar…bass synth…sampling pedal.
Back to Arcade Fire for a second – after the CMJ show they sort of exploded, what do you think of your labelmates?
one of the best live bands i have ever seen…really…i haven’t been able to listen to the record simply because i saw the show first…they enjoy what they do (the red haired guy especially)…they ooze good vibes…and they’re canadian.
New York, New York
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
favorite: so many…watching harmony korine throw those tiny -wrapped in tissue- explosives (they have a brand name i can’t remember) at old ladies and cops ’95.
watching two drunken bums try to hit each other with lead pipes in the middle of the street in front of CBGB ’87 missing each other by miles.
driving a hundred miles an hour in a reliant K rental down some avenue to keep up with the taxis. piling twelve people in that same car to scope parties at 3AM…1990.
not so favorite: doing coke off the back of a toilet at some coffee shop near houston and doing interviews…talking loads of shit and then watching a friend crush and shoot ephedrine tablets.
being approached by a sebadoh fan in the new york public library and denying that i was, indeed, lou barlow. (this was early on and long before i ever got recognized)…i made the guy feel awful..huge dick-move on my part.
kicking bob fay out of sebadoh while staying at some fancy hotel Elektra was paying for…ug…he deserved it but not in the middle of a label scouting trip…super tacky on my part.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York?
least favorite: parking the van…
most favorite: NYC is a wonderland full of passionate music fans, once i got over being intimidated by rock critics and finicky hipsters i realized that NYC was a Great place to play..the shows are always reasonably well attended and the audiences are fun.
You’ve played a lot of shows, solo, with Dinosaur Jr, Folk Implosion and Sebadoh. How does New York’s music scene differ from other states/countries you’ve played?
it’s the biggest and most diverse…LA attracts conformists, NYC attracts iconoclasts.
Now it’s time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
You know youve made it when…
the bank will give you a big ass loan to buy a house.
It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when…
i can’t take a step without puking blood.
I’ll never forget the first time I…
I’ll never forget the first time [insert another band members name here]…
j mascis puked after a show
And finally, lets have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if youve got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):
Bridge & Tunnel
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Questions inspired by movies…
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man’s existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
i don’t know what ontological means..i barely graduated high school and i have never heard that word in conversation..ever
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
A few quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
john, paul, george, ringo, moon and eno
If you released a 7 what would you put on the cover?
an awesome collage with images of george W and Stalin mixed with car adverts, warzone snapshots and the cast of the OC.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
the first meatpuppets 12"…in utero (vinyl) (a week early)>nirvana
And finally…If Josh Schwartz, creator of the OC, asked you to perform on his tv show (as Modest Mouse, the Killers and the Walkmen recently have) would you?
i would do nearly anything for money at this point..we didn’t have health insurance. i have no shame.
Lou Barlow plays the Mercury Lounge tomorrow night, March 1st.March 8, 2005 at 12:04 pm #107678
[img]http://www.gothamist.com/images/2005_02_artsloubarlow.jpg[/img] … this pic’s from that webpage as well …
btw, you would think someone w/lou’s money would have medical insurance … i mean what’s up w/that ?March 31, 2005 at 4:25 am #107679
no doubt like ho’s knocked up time to get some coverage asap…
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