Sebadoh Talk Loss and Love on Defend Yourself
The onset of age can devolve into a rapid spiral of emotions, among them cynicism and panic. It's human to reach a certain age when, alone with fading memories in hand, you're forced to take stock of your experiences and regrets, accept them, and figure out how things will be better moving forward.
Dinosaur Jr. bassist and Sebadoh frontman Lou Barlow speaks of his life, at this moment, as a still point in time. Over Skype, the 47-year-old's tone is reflective, yet confident.
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Sebadoh perform Friday at Bowery Ballroom. Defend Yourself is out now.
"I spend a lot of time in my life trying to figure out what I did wrong in situations, how to get back together, examining my own behavior and how I was wrong," Barlow confesses. "Right now I'm facing my middle age, I'm a father even -- it's a very typical crossroads to be at. But instead of trying to make amends, I'm thinking of working my way out."
Part of said crossroads involves Barlow swerving past an enormous detour -- the end of his marriage. Instead of shying away from the subject, he brings up romance often during our conversation, with the clarity of someone who's allowed time to contextualize the loss.
"I love long and winding conversations about relationships -- about how you should do it, the intricacies. I love that. I think after the smoke clears on this particular chapter of my life, I may have a better view of everything," says Barlow, pausing for a moment, allowing his own words to sink in.
Then he speaks again, this time definitively, "I held onto a lot of things for a long time. I recently was able to admit that I was wrong in a lot of ways."
It's evident that Barlow and fellow Sebadoh bandmate, Jason Loewenstein, braved especially craggy territory during the past few years. Barlow left his wife of 25 years, and Loewenstein recognized an his own struggles with intense self-criticism, jealousy and insecurity.
"Criticizing yourself is a violence against yourself," Jason Loewenstein admits. "That mindset is addictive, and for people like myself, it takes a lot to unravel that way of thinking. But I've made strides."
Fittingly, Sebadoh's latest record Defend Yourself, the ramshackle rockers' first record in 14 years, aptly traces the two musicians' trajectory from torment to triumph. The record's title and the central conflict -- the idea of "defending oneself" -- manifested itself organically when the band flew out to self-record in Barlow's refurbished Los Angeles garage. Along with former Fiery Furnaces drummer Bob D'Amico, the three plowed through the recordings in two weeks. During the process, both Loewenstein and Barlow brought forward the idea of self-defense separately, a response to their respective experiences.