Sebadoh performing live in March 2007
|Origin||Westfield, Massachusetts, United States|
Sebadoh is an American indie rock band formed in 1988 in Northampton, Massachusetts, by Eric Gaffney and Dinosaur Jr. bass player Lou Barlow. Along with such bands as Pavement and Guided by Voices, Sebadoh helped pioneer lo-fi music, a style of indie rock characterized by low-fidelity recording techniques, often on four-track machines. The band's early output, such as The Freed Man and Weed Forestin' (both released 1990), as well as Sebadoh III (1991), was typical of this style. Following the release of Bubble and Scrape in 1993, Gaffney left the band. His replacement, Bob Fay, appeared on Bakesale (1994), but was fired before the sessions for the band's major label release The Sebadoh (1999).
The band then went on a 14-year recording hiatus, during which time members pursued other projects while occasionally touring as Sebadoh. The group returned in 2013 with the Secret EP and a full-length album titled Defend Yourself, which were both self-recorded. Lead singer Lou Barlow says of the band's resurrected sound, "We kept to ourselves during the recording and didn't have much, if any, outside intervention. That, to my mind, makes it a true Sebadoh record and aligns the style of Defend Yourself with our early releases."
Lou Barlow was the bass player for alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. in the late 1980s. While both Barlow and leader J Mascis wrote songs, Mascis' material dominated the group's output because Barlow was intimidated by the guitarist's songwriting efforts. Barlow spent progressively more time recording his own songs at home. Barlow and Eric Gaffney released the Weed Forestin' cassette in 1987 on Homestead Records under the name Sebadoh, which was a nonsense word Barlow often muttered in his recordings. Both Barlow and Gaffney contributed songs to The Freed Man (1988) cassette. Homestead Records head Gerard Cosloy heard the cassette release of The Freed Man and released it as a full-length album on Homestead in 1989. Soon after the cassette's release Barlow was kicked out of Dinosaur Jr. Over time Sebadoh's releases became a way for Barlow to address the issues of control that manifested as the tension in and his ejection from Dinosaur Jr; Barlow said "I got a lot of hatred out just by writing those songs."Jason Loewenstein joined in summer 1989, the first release that he played on being the "Gimme Indie Rock" single in 1991. Only ten 'band' shows were performed throughout Western Massachusetts, Boston, and New York over the period 1989-1990 before the third album Sebadoh III was released.
After touring with Firehose in 1991, they signed to Sub Pop (Domino in the UK and City Slang in Germany) in 1992, and released the two EPs Rocking the Forest and Sebadoh vs. Helmet released just two months apart. These EPs had their track listings truncated and shuffled around and made into the American full-length release Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock. Their fourth album Bubble and Scrape was released in April 1993. The same year, the band's "Soul and Fire" EP humorously described the band's musical goal as "driving dozens of college-age lemmings off the cliff of limited imagination."
Following Bubble and Scrape (1993) Gaffney left the band. His replacement, Bob Fay, appeared on Bakesale (1994) and the follow-up Harmacy in 1996. Fay was fired before the sessions for The Sebadoh (1999) and replaced by Russ Pollard, a friend of Loewenstein's from Louisville. Following the tour to promote this album, the band went on hiatus, with Barlow concentrating on his other project, the Folk Implosion, and Loewenstein working on material for his debut solo album At Sixes and Sevens, released in 2002. The two reunited to play concerts in late 2003 and early 2004.
In March 2007, the "Sebadoh Classic" lineup of Barlow, Gaffney and Loewenstein went on tour together for the first time in fourteen years. This coincided with a new series of reissues which repackaged some of the early albums with extra discs of unreleased tracks. First came a reissue of Sebadoh III, then The Freed Man, and Bubble and Scrape.
The reunion tour continued into 2008, and in May included a live performance of Bubble and Scrape (1993) in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties curated Don't Look Back series at London's Koko venue.
In 2011 Sebadoh toured in support of reissues for their Bakesale and Harmacy albums. Though Bakesale was reissued on time, as of June, 2015, Harmacy has still not been reissued. Taking the place of Gaffney on drums was Bob D'Amico, who plays with Loewenstein in both Circle of Buzzards and The Fiery Furnaces.
In March 2012, Lou Barlow reissued the early recordings of Weed Forrestin' on the Sebadoh bandcamp, available in a digital download, double cd, vinyl, and deluxe edition with the Child of the Apocaylpse sessions as a cassette tape. Fifty copies of "Weed Forrestin" came as a surprise bonus with purchases of the limited edition re-release of Dinosaur Jr.'s first three albums in a cassette boxed set released by Joyful Noise in 2012.
In July 2012, Sebadoh released Secret EP on the Sebadoh bandcamp, available in a digital download. CD copies were only available at the shows of their 2012 tour. In June 2013, Joyful Noise released it on vinyl.
The new full-length album, Defend Yourself, came out on Joyful Noise Recordings on Sept. 17, 2013. It debuted at No. 1 on the "New Alternative Artists" Billboard chart, somewhat ironically, since the band had been together for roughly 27 years at that point in time.