After an esteemed two and a half decades as one of alternative rock’s most seminal figures, the many musical outlets of Lou Barlow are achieving somewhat of a frenetic singularity. Though the sonic distinctions between his current non-dormant projects remain resolute, the ability to juggle duties with Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and as a solo artist is a virtue many artists long for. Lou’s impending visit to Australia in solo mode follows on from his 2010 tour with Dinosaur Jr. and the 2011 tour with the newly reformed Sebadoh. “I like it.” Lou states humbly. “Now that you put it that way, I haven’t thought about it. But it means that I can come to Australia three times in three years. I get to do totally different things, which is pretty awesome.”
As Lou explains, the ability to perform under a variety of different banners doesn’t translate to a sense of absolute freedom. “No, not really. Obviously Dinosaur Jr. is a very big priority. Dinosaur Jr. have a manager, plans and we get money to make records. And there’s a certain amount of fanfare involved, as modest as it really is. I have to be really careful, it’s a delicate balance I guess you could say. I try to keep up with Dinosaur Jr., which is a pretty good job as jobs go. It’s something that I enjoy. But playing with Sebadoh and solo, that’s sort of more of an expression of who I am as a songwriter and more of what I’ve done for the past 20 years – I’ve done that more than I’ve done Dinosaur Jr. So keeping that alive and keeping my bandmates in Sebadoh happy, because I sort of manage Sebadoh I guess, and more solo stuff requires me to be a little more hands on with the technical stuff and managerial issues,” he explains. “Basically it isn’t easy, but it’s awesome.”
The culmination of his three currently active projects were none more explicated than at the start of 2012, when Lou partook in The Weezer Cruise – a five day festival on a ship. “That was amazing, because I was playing solo, with Sebadoh, and with Dinosaur Jr. It worked out to be about seven days of shows, because we started with a show on land with Sebadoh in Miami,” Lou recalls. “Then the next day the cruise started with Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, then the next day I think it was Sebadoh and solo, then the next day was Dinosaur Jr., and Sebadoh and solo the next day – and so on and so on. Then it ended on land in Miami with a Dinosaur Jr. show. I think I played seven shows in all in seven days,. It was wonderful, I had the time of my life to be perfectly honest. As a performer, I was in heaven, honestly,” he beams.
Despite a fairly intense touring schedule, Lou is in the process of putting together the latest Dinosaur Jr. record, the results of which we can expect this year. “It’s going well, really really well. I would say September [is the release date] probably. After this Australian tour I’ll be flying back to Massachusetts to finish my songs, then the record will be finished. It will be finished on May 5th, the last day of mixing.”
With the two recent post-reformation Dinosaur Jr. records more than living up to both fans’ and critics’ expectations, Lou remains optimistic that the upcoming LP won’t be falling short of the legacy. “It’s always hard to say, because peoples’ tastes are always very fickle. To me it sounds just as good as the other two, if not better. I actually did three songs for the record, I don’t know if all three will make it onto the record. I put a lot of thought into it, and I feel like I did my best for this one. I always do my best, but this one I tried to make it as logical and Dinosaur Jr.-friendly as I possibly could. I’m hoping that it will bear fruit. It’s been great, it was actually really good, I had a really good time doing it,” he states. “I generally do, to be honest.”
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
LOU BARLOW performs at Northcote Social Club on Tuesday April 17 and Wednesday April 18.