Sebadoh's Lou Barlow Talks Weezer Cruise, Dinosaur Jr., and Being an Indie Rock Dad

Categories: Q&A
Lou Barlow's passport photo.
In 1984, Lou Barlow started an indie rock crew called Dinosaur Jr. with J. Mascis and a drummer nicknamed Murph. Four years later, after endless tension, a trio of amazing albums, and a ton of alt-guy fights, Lou got kicked out of his own band.

That's when Barlow became almost synonymous with Sebadoh, his bedroom-y, low-fi side project that suddenly blossomed into a full-blown band, signed to Sub Pop alongside Nirvana, and invented the template for emo that doesn't suck.

These days, Barlow's back with Dino Jr., still shredding with Sebadoh, and getting set to hit the high seas aboard the first-ever Weezer Cruise. Last week, we called him at home to talk about indie cruising, bickering bands, and being an indie rock dad.

Crossfade: Is Lou Barlow an avid cruiser? Or will the Weezer Cruise be your maiden voyage?
Lou Barlow: Yes, it will be my maiden voyage.

Well, why haven't you gone cruisin' the high seas to go in the past? Too busy with writing, recording, touring?
I basically never, ever found any reason to go on a cruise. Or any real interest in it. Or anything, you know.

Yeah. This surge in indie-rock cruises is strange. What do you think of the whole music cruising mania? Is it ironic? Is it earnest? Is it interesting? Is it lame?
It's fine by me. You know, ATP [All Tomorrow's Party] started doing festivals in these English holiday camps, which were just really bizarre locations. People would vacation there during the '60s and '70s, and they were very grungy, total cheeseball places. But ATP started doing these fests and it was really fun.

So cool music in that kind of context can work. Perhaps ironically.

Like always, it's about whether the music sucks. If the tunes are good, they can transcend and transform that goofy cruise ship setting.
Yeah. Plus, I think it's kinda cool that people are half-captive. It's like, "You're gonna watch bands for the next four days! You're trapped! You can't go home!" [Laughs] You know, it forces you into the situation. And I think some people really dig it. Like me, playing in bands, I really enjoy these types of things. So I'm fully anticipating it being a fun experience.

I noticed that your Sebadoh bandmates Jason and Bob are hosting the Weezer Cruise's Cannonball Contest. But you're not taking part. Are your pool skills subpar?
I'm playing solo. I'm playing with Dino. And I'm playing with Sebadoh. I just don't have time for the pool.

Your Dinosaur Jr. bud J. Mascis recently told an interviewer, "I'm scared about [the cruise]. I'm bringing a lot of friends to try and buffer myself. So hopefully I have a good time." But you don't have any pre-cruise anxiety, right?
No, man. I think it's gonna be fine.

On the topic of Dinosaur Jr., I was trolling the official Lou Barlow Twitter account and you mention recording plans for this year. Is the Dino crew hitting the studio?
Yeah, that's definitely happening. It kinda starts on February 1. We'll see how it goes. We'll just motor through. And Sebadoh's gonna record too. We're hoping to record for the first half of the year and then spend the second half starting to tour again.

The original run of Dino Jr. had a reputation for being really volatile. Now that you're all a little older and presumably mellower, how has the Dino dynamic changed, either in the studio, up on stage, out on the road, ridin' on a cruise ship?
You know, J. was kind of an angry person when he was younger. And he's just not as evil as he used to be. [Laughs] So it's a lot easier. But otherwise, it's pretty much the same.

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Lou barlow is great. I can't wait for the new dino and sebadoh record.

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