Sebadoh is an American indie rock band, formed in 1986 in Westfield, 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 1990’s Weed Forestin’ and 1991’s Sebadoh III, was typical of this style.
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 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 1988’s The Freed Man 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.
Concert at Webster Hall in New York, 2007
Following 1993’s Bubble and Scrape Gaffney left the band. His replacement, Bob Fay, appeared on 1994’s Bakesale 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 1993’s Bubble and Scrape 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 reissued Bakesale and Harmacy, and toured in support. Taking the place of Gaffney on drums was Bob D’Amico, who had played with Lowenstein in both Circle of Buzzards and Fiery Furnaces.