Lou Barlow’s Dinosaur Dreams

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As a founding member of Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh, Lou Barlow is one of the most influential musicians to have come out of the 80s and 90s ‘alternative’ music movement. After recently touring Australia with both bands, he’s back again to play a run of solo shows drawing on more than 25 years of back catalogue. We had a chat with Lou about the tour, the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr album and his approach to song writing.

Milk Bar: What should we expect from your solo shows?

Lou Barlow: They’ll be all over the place — maybe I’ll play the first song I ever wrote, maybe I’ll play something off my latest solo record or maybe I’ll play a song from the new Dinosaur Jr record I’ve been working on. I don’t know!

MB: Dinosaur Jr reformed in 2005 and you’ve since put out two albums that were well received by critics and fans. Why do you think the band has remained relevant?

LB:  We’re very no nonsense. We take what we do seriously, but we don’t take it ‘seriously’. While we’re doing it no one is saying: ‘Wow this is great, we’re awesome, aren’t we amazing for doing this?’ We do the best that we can, we deliver the record and then hope for the best. And that’s kind of like what we always did.

MB: When writing for different projects, is each an outlet for whatever you’re feeling at the time, or do you write songs specifically for each band?

LB: It depends. With the two last Dinosaur Jr records I made a conscious decision to write songs about my experience of being back in the band and what that experience was while I was doing it as opposed to bringing a fully composed song that I had written on an acoustic guitar about something romantic or some philosophical dilemma that I’d been chewing on for years. The songs would write themselves as we finished them.

When I tried to do that with the last record (2009’s Farm) and it was pretty fucking close to being disastrous (laughs). I couldn’t really get the guys involved in what I was doing the way that I could with the first reunion record.

With the new record I was like:‘this time I have to make it absolutely clear what I need from them because if I don’t do that then there’s a very good chance that it’s not going to happe.

With Sebadoh I’m just bringing a bunch of song ideas and seeing which ones stick.

MB: I heard you had a dream about a friend helping you record new Dinosaur demos so afterwards you actually called him up to ask for help. How did that turn out?

LB: It was amazing! He came over three or four days before I was meant to start recording. It was my daughter’s seventh birthday, he came over in the morning and in two hours he wrote and played drum parts for three songs. I was able to make fully realised demos that I brought to Dinosaur, which was crucial.

MB: And there’s a new Sebadoh album on the way too?

LB: I’m letting the Dinosaur stuff take precedence because it’s all scheduled out. There’ll probably a Dinosaur Jr release by the end of the year then I’m hoping a Sebadoh record will be done by this time next year.

Lou Barlow is playing the Northcote Social Club on April 17 and 18.
For tickets go to

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