Lou Barlow's music straddles the line between noisy alternative and softer acoustic rock. The dichotomy shaped his previous bands, Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, and informs his new solo album, Goodnight Unknown.
The Dinosaur Jr. bassist will perform at the Majestic Theater on Oct. 13. He'll play with Tom Watson and Raul Morales, who also back ex-Minuteman Mike Watt as the Missingmen.
In an interview with Isthmus last week, Barlow talked about the new album and memories of early Madison shows.
How did you connect with the Missingmen?
Mike Watt and the Missingmen toured with Dinosaur Jr. last spring. At that time, I talked to Tom Watson and realized he was in an early L.A. punk band, Toxic Shock, that I liked a lot. He expressed interest in playing when we were back in L.A. I had just found out that my plan for a band to tour behind Goodnight Unknown had fallen through. It seemed logical to just scoop up the Missingmen package.
What, if any, current life experiences influenced Goodnight Unknown?
Some of it sounds like living in L.A. to me, considering my place in my neighborhood. L.A. is a complex place, far more than outsiders give it credit for being. It goes beyond clichés about Hollywood and the end of civilization, though those things color the experience of living there.
You write spacious acoustic songs right alongside dense, noisy rock. Is this intentional, and if not, what drives it?
My musical tastes, I imagine. I began writing songs inspired by hardcore punk, noise and post-punk. But I loved John Denver and '70s soft rock as a kid. I haven't really settled on one or the other and dream of the perfect fusion of the two.
What memories do you have of playing shows in Madison?
My first shows in Madison were at O'Cayz Corral, which was a great place. At an early Dinosaur Jr. show - if not the first in Madison - the guys from Killdozer did an impromptu set of cover songs. I loved Killdozer, so that felt pretty special.