Lou Barlow: 'All Sebadoh records are political but this time we looked outside, instead of in, for most of the tunes'
- Craig Angus
- 25 September 2019
Sebadoh frontman discusses the band's new album and upcoming European tour
Sebadoh's influence on the world of indie rock can't be understated, both in their DIY recordings and in their big-hearted songwriting. But it's Ariana Grande who founder Lou Barlow made a comparison with in the release for the band's ninth album Act Surprised, specifically the track 'Celebrate the Void', which opens with a line that wouldn't be out of place in one of the global megastar's lovelorn anthems: 'I get the feeling you don't feel me.' 'Pop music is always great,' Barlow enthuses, 'even when it's not. It has an impact in culture and psyches that I have no choice but to appreciate.'
On Act Surprised, the band haven't taken the unlikeliest of left turns in the world of pop, instead delivering another cathartic blast of guitar rock. 'All Sebadoh records are political,' Barlow tells me from his hometown of Greenfield, Massachusetts, 'but this time we looked outside, instead of in, for most of the tunes.' Across the 15 tracks that comprise Act Surprised, Barlow and bandmates Jason Loewenstein and Bob D'Amico delve into the complexities of an increasingly divided world, one altered beyond the point of no return by technological advancement. It's a record with all the energy of a live performance but is also one of Sebadoh's most melodic albums, the fruits of working with Justin Pizzoferrato, responsible for the post-reunion Dinosaur Jr albums Beyond, Farm and I Bet On Sky. 'Jason, Bob and I spent a week throwing ideas to each other then convened in Justin's studio,' says Barlow. 'The recording was a blast, something we're very happy with.'
The band's upcoming European tour takes in a visit to Glasgow, a city Barlow has a lot of fondness for. 'It's a place that I always remember,' he says, 'the quiet ferocity of the music scene, the love of music that buoys every show I've played there, a place where I feel like my basic desire to write songs is understood and appreciated. Suffice to say, I always look forward to, or am very nervous about, a show in Glasgow.'