Spooky Action! The JASON LOEWENSTEIN (of Sebadoh) Interview

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You have to be really patient if you’re a Jason Loewenstein fan. Like, fourteen years between Sebadoh albums, and fifteen since his debut solo album At Sixes and Sevens kind of patient. When you live on the West Coast but he mainly tours the East Coast…kind of patient. The kind of patience that is required when you finally visit the East Coast and excitedly call him up…only to find out that he’s moving pads (more on that later) and can’t meet you down the pub after all. 

But that’s okay. Jason Loewenstein is worth being patient for because a) you can’t help but like Jason Loewenstein, I mean, it’s almost a physical impossibility, the guy is magnetic and b) you know that Jason songs are worth waiting for. They’re like beer-swilling dark horses with a few dings in ’em, coming up on the inside all scrappy-like to win the race.

So, we, as fans and friends, waited. Now here it is. Spooky Action. A return on the investment of all that patience. You should purchase it here, now, because it’s is a great, late-night, punkabilly rock throwdown. It’s twangy and clanky in some places, immensely headbobbable in others. It’s bass, drums, vocals, guitar, mix and production all done by JakeRock, true indie rock. It’s a matter-of-fact, mindful and self-aware album in which Jason seems to be actually, really /observing life and his role in it. In “The fuck out” he’s sings: “sometimes you gotta stand up and walk the fuck out,” but at the same time, in the background, another voice overlaps: “stand still.” Haven’t we all be there? Those of us who’ve been divorced certainly have (more on that later, too.) But it probably applies to pretty much every argument we’ve had in our own heads, too.

So what’s going on in JakeRock’s head this week ahead of the release of his new solo album? I caught up with my Brother from another Mother(sbaugh) to ask him some of the questions I have been patiently waiting to ask. Here’s what he had to say:

It’s interesting looking back over coverage from 15 years ago when “At Sixes and Sevens” was released and even then journos were wondering then “what took you so long?” in releasing the solo stuff outside of Sebadoh. But seriously, what took you so long?

I got caught up in disappointment and self doubt! What a waste of time!

Did anything happen back then to put you off releasing solo material? 

I put a lot of effort into that record and the touring that followed and didn’t see much interest. Subpop called me a “legacy act” from minute one, and weren’t really into promoting stuff that didn’t “have its own momentum”. I had nobody behind me except for my bandmates and I felt defeated.

How much of SA was conceived more recently or have you been noodling over ideas or songs since the last album? 

There are song skeletons and full compositions that are old enough to have been in our live set 14 years ago, but they have all been put thru the creative wringer and some ended up sounding very different. At least 1/2 of this is “brand new” material.

How is it feeling now that it’s about to be out there? What’s going through your head this week? 

I am happy with it. I only hope that those who might be interested in this will be aware of it and give it a listen. I feel like it took ten years for folks to really find out about “At Sixes and Sevens” and I hope that this doesn’t take that long to percolate. I really want to get out on the road, I have a fantastic band with Bob D’Amico and Matt Friedberger and I wanna get out there and show them off.

 I love the high-speed meditation and self-reflection on here. And the need to get the fuck out of toxic stuff. Could a conclusion in this album, then, that human relationships are confusing and chaotic? Or?….

Well, I am an anxious guy who is into meditation, so that makes sense! I think that human relationships are indeed confusing and chaotic, but more because we do not understand the confusing and chaotic nature of our relationship to OURSELVES. I have questions! “Where do these thoughts come from, and to whom?”

If you had to describe the last few years in your life, how would you? And what experiences have influenced the album the most?

Photo Credit: Jasoen LoewensteinI got divorced… Lived in a weirdo rooming house, and then spent a year rooming at a friend’s place where I wrote and recorded most of this stuff. I am a bit of a loner by nature so I just stayed in my room and did a beer and weed regimen, chipping away at the recording. In some ways a very dark time, but with a lot of personal growth and this album to work on… (which I think has a generally positive or at least reflective message) I had the opportunity to do something good!

You’ve played and produced everything on this platter, did the point where you felt it was finished occur naturally, or did it have to be pried from your hands?

Thank god for deadlines. It had to be pried. I usually procrastinate and then do insane, intense anxious sessions in the studio. I think I did all of the vocals for this in the last two days. It’s EXACTLY like what happened with “At Sixes and Sevens“…I did all of those vocals in one 14-hour session.

If you had to choose a couple of favourites, which would they be and why? 

“Light the room” is a special one… I made the skeleton for that one many years ago. Sometimes you can make something that does you the favor of providing a transcendent emotional experience. For me, the demo of this song gave me back way more than I bargained for. I felt better when I listened to it, it was cathartic. When I was getting it together to make this record, I could never locate the full master for the demo but I found an unfinished backup and utilized parts of it for the version on the record… The original drum loop is a little wack in a good way, a hesitation that implies heaviness, I could never recreate it, so I used it as a bed for the redo.

Photo credit: Jason LoewensteinWhat makes you ridiculously happy? Besides Devo. 

My pig Emmett, girlfriend Amy, incredible friends, meditation, car racing video games, bicycles, slingshots, intoxicants, being exposed to smart and compassionate people…. And of course making music.

Can we expect some widescale Jakerock touring? Like, beyond the same 10 eastern cities that always get you in Sebadoh? 

My whole reason for making this record was to be able to go out on tour.

I hope that people like this and wanna hear it loud and proud, we are dying to get out there and rock it!!!!  \m/

Jason Loewenstein’s new solo album Spooky Action is available via the fine folks at Joyful Noise Records. Find out about live dates here

Posted by Mikala   @   15 June 2017

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