Top 11 Things SEBADOH Learned While Recording “Defend Yourself”

Anyone who’s ever read this site or knows me personally knows that I’ve written about Sebadoh a lot.

I’ve known Lou Barlow and and Jason Loewenstein for 20 years, and in the last few became close friends and worked with them, providing media, mixed bag and moral support. I took them to an awful heavy metal Mexican sports bar restaurant. I went on tour with them on the West Coast, travelled across Germany with them, went on a big boat to Mexico with them. They slept on my floor and futons. My photos from a radio interview they did in 1996 in Toronto are inside the re-released version of Bakesale. I have made some wonderful friends through them. I consider them family.

And I would check in with them while they were writing and recording their first album in 14 years, Defend Yourself.

Sebadoh in studio, pic by Jason Loewenstein

I know a bit about some of this album’s content. But I’m too close to it to really write everything that I want to about it, so I won’t. My two favourite songs are “Defend Yr Self” and “Let It Out” for very different reasons. Lou first debuted “Let It Out” live on the Weezer Cruise and once said it was one of the best songs he’s ever written. But I don’t know if he still feels that way. B-sides “Imminent Emergency” and “No Wound” are also really rather great.

Defend Yourself is a really good album with rockers and slow rolls.

It’s reductionist to call it a “break-up album” (as everyone will) but it is, in parts. However, anyone who has experienced a marriage collapse after many years would feel a twinge to have such things described so simply. I know – my own marriage spectacularly imploded  around the time this album was being finished, and friendships shifted. The title means something to me. But to hang a hat on that description distracts from Jason’s great songs on here, and drummer Bob D’Amico’s warm instrumental “Once.” It’s a typical Sebadoh album, made by three people, and it’s about a lot of things.

It makes me happy that in the run up to its release, and during its streaming, people are responding well to it. Sebadoh’s a great band whose music and people mean a lot to me. I want you to buy the album. Actually go and pay for it. Go see them on tour. Buy merch.

And in the meantime, here’s really all you need to know about Defend Yourself, save for what you learn about it when you listen to it yourself.

Top 11 Things Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein Learned While Recording Defend Yourself:

1. I learned that avocados grow on trees. (because there was one growing right outside the door of Lou’s rehearsal space where we recorded the album.)
2. We learned and recorded the songs “cold”. (Went from never having heard the song to finished basic recording in 1-2 hours)
3. There was a Black Widow spider living behind the rehearsal space. (I think I peed on him/her, sorry pal.)
4. A diet that consists only of coffee and Mexican food will actually keep you alive.
5. On average, we recorded 2-3 songs per day.
6. Griffith park is very large, very hot and dry, and a terrific place to shoot a slingshot.
7. Los Angeles is a wonderland of weirdness for those who don’t live there. (And probably some that do live there.)
8. We were a little nervous about recording, but it didn’t last long!
9. Lou and I took turns teaching songs to each other and Bob… Lou did 2 and then I did 2. Of course, Bob did 1.
10. I mistakenly erased all of the demos, notes and lyrics I had prepared for the sessions the night before we were to begin recording.
11. I made up MANY bits and pieces of my songs as I was teaching them to the boys. (the ideas were “fresh”) LOL!

Defend Yourself is out on September 17 on Joyful Noise Recordings. Buy it here. \m/

One response to “Top 11 Things SEBADOH Learned While Recording “Defend Yourself””

  1. Cool article! I’ts tough to write about someones art that you know personally. Especially a 20 years deep relationship with a band. I heard these songs during the 24 hour NPR stream and felt a tad more comfortable living in a world with a new Sebadoh release.

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