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Barlow-fi

Lou Barlow talks about Brace the Wave and this week's gig at his beloved Casbah

Barlow: “SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.” - Image by Rachel Enneking
Barlow: “SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.”

Lou Barlow grew up in Massachusetts and stumbled into Dinosaur Jr., which helped define an era of alternative rock when they weren’t marinating in backstage passive-aggression. Solo, Barlow started Sebadoh, pioneered the entire “lo-fi” thing, and with strange aeons, found himself back in Dinosaur Jr. but still a solo artist, too. He brings himself and his new album, Brace the Wave, to town September 25 at his much-beloved Casbah. He furnished some ellipses-laden answers to the Reader’s email questions.

Video:

"Repeat"

...off of Lou Barlow's new record, <em>Brach the Wave</em>

...off of Lou Barlow's new record, Brach the Wave

What are your favorite memories of playing San Diego?

“It’s almost entirely defined by the Casbah. The original Casbah was so incredibly tiny it was like playing a house show. But the level of enthusiasm and the idea that the place was accepted as the most important spot in SD was contagious. So when it moved into a larger but still very intimate space, it was easy to look forward to playing there. I may have played there more than any other club in the country.

“I’ve played a few other places in SD. I remember a Sebadoh show at the World Beat Center in which the audience talked loudly over an opening set by Elliott Smith. It made me really mad and I went on to criticize them and explain that Elliott was worth more than that, etc. In general, SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.”

Which songs on the new album are you most proud of?

“‘Moving.’ It has a momentum and layering scheme with the ukulele in the recording (it’s 100 percent ukulele) that I’ve tried to produce for a long time. It echoes my earliest work (thought to be my strongest) but in a new light. I’m really proud of that one.”

Which songs were the hardest to realize, and how did you solve your challenges?

Past Event

Lou Barlow

  • Thursday, September 24, 2015, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • $14

“I wrote and rewrote ‘Wave’ a few times. It started as ‘Break the Wave,’ which made no sense to me but persisted as a phrase that felt good to sing/say...I tried the melody on standard guitar with a foot pedal synthesizer...I tried it on bass...nothing worked. I almost gave up on it but in my last days of living in L.A. (Glendale, specifically), I recorded an instrumental version that I didn’t think much of until I moved to Massachusetts. At that point I set up a mic, rewrote the lyrics, and recorded a vocal that worked for me. I changed ‘break the wave’ to ‘brace the wave’ and that was it.”

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Barlow: “SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.” - Image by Rachel Enneking
Barlow: “SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.”

Lou Barlow grew up in Massachusetts and stumbled into Dinosaur Jr., which helped define an era of alternative rock when they weren’t marinating in backstage passive-aggression. Solo, Barlow started Sebadoh, pioneered the entire “lo-fi” thing, and with strange aeons, found himself back in Dinosaur Jr. but still a solo artist, too. He brings himself and his new album, Brace the Wave, to town September 25 at his much-beloved Casbah. He furnished some ellipses-laden answers to the Reader’s email questions.

Video:

"Repeat"

...off of Lou Barlow's new record, <em>Brach the Wave</em>

...off of Lou Barlow's new record, Brach the Wave

What are your favorite memories of playing San Diego?

“It’s almost entirely defined by the Casbah. The original Casbah was so incredibly tiny it was like playing a house show. But the level of enthusiasm and the idea that the place was accepted as the most important spot in SD was contagious. So when it moved into a larger but still very intimate space, it was easy to look forward to playing there. I may have played there more than any other club in the country.

“I’ve played a few other places in SD. I remember a Sebadoh show at the World Beat Center in which the audience talked loudly over an opening set by Elliott Smith. It made me really mad and I went on to criticize them and explain that Elliott was worth more than that, etc. In general, SD is hard to crack, so it always comes back to the Casbah, which is fine by me. I love the place.”

Which songs on the new album are you most proud of?

“‘Moving.’ It has a momentum and layering scheme with the ukulele in the recording (it’s 100 percent ukulele) that I’ve tried to produce for a long time. It echoes my earliest work (thought to be my strongest) but in a new light. I’m really proud of that one.”

Which songs were the hardest to realize, and how did you solve your challenges?

Past Event

Lou Barlow

  • Thursday, September 24, 2015, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • $14

“I wrote and rewrote ‘Wave’ a few times. It started as ‘Break the Wave,’ which made no sense to me but persisted as a phrase that felt good to sing/say...I tried the melody on standard guitar with a foot pedal synthesizer...I tried it on bass...nothing worked. I almost gave up on it but in my last days of living in L.A. (Glendale, specifically), I recorded an instrumental version that I didn’t think much of until I moved to Massachusetts. At that point I set up a mic, rewrote the lyrics, and recorded a vocal that worked for me. I changed ‘break the wave’ to ‘brace the wave’ and that was it.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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