Jason Loewenstein is a rock n roll survivor. He has played in Sebadoh since
1989; has been a member of The Fiery Furnaces; plays in Circle of Buzzards
with his Sebadoh bandmate Bob D’Amico; and has produced countless records
for others (google JakeRock Recording Service.) Loewenstein rode Sebadoh’s
wave of 90’s success that culminated in a deal with Sire Records that fell apart
soon there after the release of The Sebadoh LP in 1999. After the Sire deal fell
through, the band took an extended hiatus that didn’t see them release another
album for fourteen years. In that time apart, Loewenstein’s engineering career
became the priority as well as his time in the beloved New York indie outfit The
In 2002, Loewenstein released his highly underrated debut solo record At Sixes
and Sevens, but it hasn’t been until 2017 that he has found the time or
inspiration for it’s follow-up, the excellent Spooky Action. Loewenstein hasn’t
reinvented the wheel or fixed what was broke, simply put: If you’re a fan of his
Sebadoh material, you will be just as happy with Spooky Action.
chorusVERSEchorus caught up with Jason while he was at home in Brooklyn
putting together touring plans. We had a chance to talk about Sebadoh’s Sire
experience, his production work, and even Nirvana.
chorusVERSEchorus: Obviously there has been a seventeen year gap
between solo albums: what took so long? Were there other aborted
attempts at making a record?
Jason Loewenstein:No... Well I do a bass and drums duo with Bob D'Amico
called "Circle Of Buzzards" and we recorded some songs for that.
I stole the song called "dead" from Buzzards for Spooky Action.
cVc: You played all the instruments and handled production on At Sixes
and Sevens and Spooky Action; were you ever tempted to bring others
JL:I like playing with other folks, but I don’t mind working alone either. I only
regret not getting Bob to play the drums.
cVc: Was any of the material on Spooky Action held over from the Defend
JL: No... All the stuff that we recorded for "Defend" got used one way or the
cVc: What got you into working on the production side of things?
JL:I like science and sound, and I am D.I.Y. or die for most things.
cVc: You have recorded with the likes of Wally Gagel, Bob Weston and at
Fort Apache; what have you taken from those experiences into your own
JL: 1. Don’t get a big head. 2. Don’t say NO to the artist.
cVc: I have read that it was Eric Gaffney that drafted you into Sebadoh; is
that true? Did you know Lou personally before al that came to be?
JL:I was pals with Eric for a year or so before I met Lou... After trying to talk
to J Mascis once at a party I figured these guys considered themselves in
another league and planned to steer clear of them personally. Then after he
left Dinosaur, Eric said that Lou wanted to start a hardcore band and I should
audition as drummer.
That was the plan for about two or three rehearsals, and then we started
switching instruments all the time... I had to learn to play bass.
cVc: Those were obviously difficult times for Lou, but how did you find
working with him at that time? Compare that to your working
JL:He was pissed, and it came out in an awesome, hyper-creative way. I
didn’t need to know him too well to know that I was way into it.
cVc: What happened to the band after “The Sebadoh” LP? You guys had
signed to Sub Pop, made two of the better records of the 90’s, and then
made another outstanding one with “The Sebadoh”, but then you guys
went on a hiatus for some years afterward. What happened?
JL: We made "The Sebadoh" and thought "wow, thats our best work" and it
wasn’t well received. The world was maybe getting tired of guitar bands...
cVc: If you could rewind the clock, would you have done things
cVc: Sebadoh seems to have been rough on drummers; what happened
with Gaffney, Fay and Pollard? Should Bob be worried?
JL:Eric simply quit the band, Bod Fay got fired because we wanted to do
some things that he wasn’t great at, and we thought that he wasn’t even
interested in trying. Pollard is gone because he and Lou got into some shit
while working together in the Folk Implosion.
Bob doesn’t have anything to worry about, he is cut from the cloth of skilled
cVc: Did you guys get shafted after the deal with Sire, or do feel like you
had just run out of steam?
JL: We had that weird thing... we were the guinea pig band of the
collaboration between Sire and SubPop, a lot of big talk... Seymour Stein and
Jonathan Poneman and us sitting around some lavish dinner scene and
Seymour saying to Poneman "Heh, the godfather of grunge and the godfather
of punk finally join forces.” Lots of big talk.... We spent a gajillion dollars
recording "The Sebadoh,” set up about a year of touring... The record came
out, we hit the road, two weeks later we hear that we are being"dropped"...
Sire was handling ALL publicity and promotions and quit when the
campaign was just starting. Not helpful. And also, fuck you Sire... If you idiots
thought you were going to get a "radio band" out of Sebadoh, you are just
cVc: When talking to musicians of a certain vintage I always love to ask
about any Nirvana stories. Kurt was a fan of Sebadoh, so did you guys
have any dealings with them? I guess you would have played some of
the same festivals. Were you a fan of theirs?
JL:I wasn’t into Nirvana, and seeing the world go apeshit for it was as
shocking as Trump winning. Who doesn’t like the idea of "crashing the party"
in a big way, but I just didn’t dig a lot of the tunes or attitude.
cVc: Do you plan to do some touring behind the new record? Would you
get Bob D’Amico to be a part of it?
JL: Yes, I am lucky to have Bob on drums and Matt Friedberger from Fiery
Furnaces on bass... Occasionally my pal Dave Rick (Phantom Tollbooth,
Bongwater, etc...) rocks the bass too...
cVc: Finally, what is next up for you? Is Sebadoh going to record again…I
thought Defend Yourself was a fantastic album!
JL: There is talk of some fall jams and maybe winter recording for
Sebadoh. Looking forward to that!