After reports of Lou Barlow's increasingly irrational behaviour, we sent an NME away team to catch them on their current tour...

3:30pm Backstage, Glasgow Garage

We find Lou, slouched on a beer-stained couch, occasionally closing his eyes for a few seconds because, he explains, “it’s a screen saver for the mind”. He’s got a right to be tired, after all, he’s been touring for over ten years. “I kinda grew up on the road,” he shrugs. “I got out of high school, then started to tour. And I’ve been touring ever since. Now, it’s just normality.”

He tells us his theory: “You have to have a little bit of death to make you stronger.” It’s why we are drawn to things that are bad for us, yet which make our lives somehow richer. Perhaps, it’s why bands go on tour.


4:30pm Breakfast

The band consume suspiciously meat-like veggie burgers and compare mugging experiences. Jason was mugged “really subtly” in New Orleans. “This guy came up to me and said, ‘If I can tell you where you bought your sneakers, will you pay me to polish them?’ I just went, ‘whatever’. So he said ‘You’ve got one on your right foot and one on your left, now give me twenty bucks!’ ” Russ, no less spectacularly, was once mugged by a mime on stilts. Lou‘s never been mugged. “But I think my number’s come up.”

5:30pm Soundcheck

Sebadoh have recently finished a seven-week tour of America on which, Lou tells us wistfully, they had “hyper-efficient roadies.” Today, they have no roadies. “I need someone to Lou-proof everything,” he sighs. “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong when I’m around.”

6:30pm Backstage

Post sound-check, Lou picks up a guitar and begins to play from his new Neil Young songbook. He doesn’t look up for nearly two hours, save to make one observation: (With panic) “Oh God. We haven’t drunk all that whiskey, have we?”


7:00pm Backstage

This is about as rock’n’roll as it gets. Russ and Jason kill time discussing their favourite medical procedures.

“If I was gonna have to have one, reflects Jason, “it’d be liposuction.” Russ considers his options, then decides. “I’d have a woman’s hands grafted on. Or big black hands. Maybe one of each. That’d look nice.”

8:00 Backstage

This man has been on Top Of The Pops. He’s about to go on stage to a venue packed with adoring fans. Still, this man does not look happy.

8:45 Sebadoh are due on stage in five minutes.

Witness their stony resolve. Wither before those steady, in-control stares. Moments after this photo is snapped, here’s what happens: Russ: “Oh my God! We haven’t made a set list!” He scrambles for a piece of paper and begins listing songs. Lou reads over his shoulder. “That’s cool,” he nods. “But maybe we should start with you on bass.” Russ, shrieking, on his way out the door: “I’ve forgotten how to play bass!” “That’s alright,” Lou sympathises, “I’ve forgotten all the songs.”

8:55 Onstage

Russ, playing bass like an ace. No one’s forgotten a thing.


Lou‘s t-shirt is the source of much onstage banter. Jason asks, “Do you guys have that thing over here, where ‘Number Two’ means ‘shit’? Well, Lou‘s not shit. He’s the shit!”


Lou: “I’m feeling it!” Someone in the crowd shouts, “jump!”, and he begins to play Van Halen. Alright!


Jason emerges from a stint on drums, breaks out his crazy-shaped rawk bass, and lets fly those coruscating riffs.


A typical Sebadoh moment. Lou fluffs ‘Rebound’: “Oops. That was a bit rough. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. Should I be sorry? No. I’m sorry way too much. Fuck you!”

10:55pm The sweaty aftermath.

Russ: “I feel so incredibly gross now.”

“Take a shower!” suggests Jason, brandishing the water-spraying nozzle like a lunatic. Russ declines. “It won’t help. The grossness comes from the inside.”

11:15pm Look! Lou‘s happy!

Lou‘s bounding around joyously, wide awake for the first time all day. “We had such a great time up there! This is the first night of our tour and everything looks really promising. Usually the first show would be horrible, but tonight was fun and weird.”

After they leave Britain, Sebadoh will tour the Far East until Christmas.

“Then we want to start recording again,” explains the unstoppable, mighty Lou, “So that we can keep our momentum. I feel like I’m just setting a pace for myself. I hope to be able to do this for a very long time.” No doubt he will.

Text: April Long

Pictures: Andy Willsher