Sebadoh’s music examines the dynamics of human relationships, mainly ones with the opposite sex.
The Boston band, which plays tonight at the CUB Ballroom at Washington State University, covers all facets of male-female relationships, but it is particularly adept at dwelling on the bleaker aspects, such as the break-up, the emotional fallout, jealousy, selfdoubt and longing.
Sebadoh’s members are best when they open their wounded hearts. The results can be beautiful. They also can be messy.
The relationship angle is one of the traits the indie-rock band has been revered for.
So much so that you have to wonder: Where would Sebadoh be without women?
“Oh geez, that’s an interesting question,” drummer-bassist-vocalist Bob Fay contemplates by phone from a Portland hotel earlier this week. “I guess nowadays all the songs aren’t necessarily about girls, even though they always seem to be questioning weirdness in relationships in general.
“There would still be things to question,” Fay continues. “There would still be people that - male or female - we care enough or feel weird enough to want to work something out through a song. I don’t think things would immediately dry up.”
Even so, tales about women are the band’s forte as indicated by the two singles “Ocean” and “Willing to Wait,” from the band’s latest album “Harmacy.”
During the infectious chorus of “Ocean,” bassist-guitarist-vocalist Lou Barlow chimes: “So I’m leaving you to you or someone else / ‘cause you never wanna hook up in the middle / I’d meet you there to talk if you would show / but you answer every question with a riddle and refuse to even choose to let me go.”
In “Willing to Wait,” Barlow longs for an old flame: “But oh, when I saw you again / a beautiful friend opened up her heart and let me in.”
Sebadoh, which also includes guitarist-bassist-drummer-vocalist Jason Loewenstein, began turning out noise pop in 1989. The band was the concept of Barlow, who was fired from Dinosaur Jr., Loewenstein and former drummer-vocalist-noisesmith Eric Gaffney. Fay, who stood in sporadically, came aboard permanently in 1994, the year the band released its critically acclaimed “Bakesale.”
Before lo-fi home recordings became a well-exploited cliche in indie rock, Sebadoh built its disjointed foundation through rough four-track recordings and noise collages.
Even though the Sub-Pop recording artist opts to record in actual studios these days, it hasn’t quite escaped the lo-fi tag.
“I think our getting our feet wet in the studio over the past four years has sort of helped us. We still love doing the four-track stuff just because of that instant gratification of getting stuff down on tape,” says Fay.
“It was always just a step to getting better-sounding records for us. It wasn’t like a means to an end. We’re not adverse to it, but we don’t want to have this sort of lo-fi reputation forever.”
“Any time a type of music is named for the way it’s recorded instead of for the music itself, like lo-fi or independent music,” he adds, “that’s weird to me because the music is the main thing.”
Sebadoh is quite prolific, having put its musical stamp on dozens of releases. Band members are equally productive outside of Sebadoh.
Fay plays in Deluxx, Deluxx Folk Implosion, Cardinal, Belt Buckle and a couple of other bands. Barlow is involved with Folk Implosion, Deluxx Folk Implosion and Sentridoh. Loewenstein comprises Sparkillepsy and has played with Palace.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: Sebadoh and Those Bastard Souls will perform at 8 tonight at Washington State University’s CUB Ballroom. Tickets are $8, available at Beasley Coliseum and the Cougar Depot in Pullman; all G&B Select-aSeat outlets, or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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