Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pulco on Bakesale (Guest Post)

On Monday, Paddy Johnston shared his thoughts on Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism and explained why he had chosen to write a song about this record for Songs About Albums: Volume 1. Today, another SAAV1 contributor is here to give us their insight: please welcome to the stage Ash Cooke, also known as Pulco... 

I'm not altogether sure where and how I first discovered Sebadoh, but I guess that when you've loved a band for most of your adult life, you kind of feel like their music has been with you from birth anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

Most people generally experience a life-affirming sonic epiphany of some description as they begin to explore new music through their teenage years and beyond into their 20s, and I was no exception. I entered Falmouth art college in 1991, and the friends I made there opened my ears to all sorts of new bands, including Neil Young, Red House Painters, Pavement, Captain Beefheart, The Beach Boys, Soft Machine, and Ween, to name but a few. I quickly ditched the musical follies of my pre-teens and set off on a fresh musical journey that has enriched my life and generally kept me sane over the years ever since.

I must have first encountered the sounds of Sebadoh at some point during those Falmouth years, either by word of mouth or by association with another group. Either way, I can clearly remember listening to Sebadoh’s 4th album, Bubble & Scrape, until the cassette was practically worn out.

The band had a loose, gnarly, guitar-rich sound that definitely wasn't metal- or prog-orientated and hinted at a sound that fitted with the kind of music I wanted to make myself. It was artier than grunge, and had little relation to the emerging Britpop generation that was brewing in the UK back then It's interesting to note, however, that at this time I was blissfully unaware of the British post-punk heritage of the late '70s and '80s that the American scene should have connected me back with. I wish I'd discovered The Fall when I was 21!!

I've made no secret of my lifelong obsession with home recording and the virtues of grotty cassette 4-track creations. The music of Sebadoh (and, more specifically, the home recordings of Lou Barlow's Sentridoh project) firmly nurtured and reinforced my beliefs that home-fi recording could be a viable process for making serious music. It’s a belief that still underpins what I write and record today as Pulco.

When Bakesale was released in 1994, the sound was a little more polished than it had been on their previous album, and the band had changed drummers. Still, the songs were amazing, and the energy that had been captured to tape inspired me beyond belief.

I think that, in particular, I'm making reference to the song Rebound. It's got best guitar intro of all time, but aside from that, the whole thing just kicks so much ass with its attitude!!

I remember seeing Sebadoh play at a small club in Brighton called the Concorde in 1995. The band attempted to play Rebound about four or five times before giving up, as the audience was literally pulling the venue to bits. Such is the power of that song!

A few years later, I was able to realise a lifelong ambition and actually meet Sebadoh when my own band, Derrero, were selected (by the band themselves!) to play two support shows during their tour of the Sebadoh album.

The band were travelling on a shoe string. The sound engineer drove the van, and there was no technical crew. I remember sitting and talking for ages after the show in Cardiff’s Coal Exchange, and when we all finally left the dressing room, we noticed that the PA had been neatly dismantled and packed away around the band's equipment. It was a beautiful moment.We offered to help them pack up then waved goodbye before both bands disappeared off into the night.

In conclusion: there are often albums that inspire you to move in new musical directions and sustain your interest for a short time before being replaced by something new, but the admiration I have for Sebadoh (both the band members and their music) is something that I have always had to put in a separate category, alongside all the other groups that have shaped me and helped to steer the music that I make myself.

Come back on Friday, when Joe O'Connell of Rough Music will be talking about Converge's Jane Doe album.

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