Wild Mercury Sound

Lou Barlow: “Thee Oh Sees set my brain on fire..."

Lou Barlow: “Thee Oh Sees set my brain on fire..."
John Mulvey

Since Thee Oh Sees start their UK tour tonight in Liverpool (then Leeds on the 7th, Cardiff (8), London (9), and Camber Sands ATP at some point between the 10th and the 12th), today seems a good time to post this excellent piece about the band by Lou Barlow.

We asked the Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr guy to supply a quote about his “favourite band” for something we’re running in the next issue of Uncut. He responded with this flaming stream-of-consciousness rant that, apart from anything else, captures quite a lot of Thee Oh Sees’ tearaway momentum. I think it’s fair to say he likes them…

“Thee Oh Sees set my brain on fire... My music nerd brain tries to summon the name of every band they remind me of… The 13th Floor Elevators, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Stereolab, “Confusion Is Sex”-era Sonic Youth on and on... They manage to encompass every subset of punk, new wave , post-punk, ‘60s garage rock, psychedelic etc... Even now my mind is spitting up fragments, obscure compilation titles, names dates... None of which I can properly order or describe in a way that seems worthy...

“When I finally saw them live a couple of weeks ago at Coachella I wanted nothing more than to dance, my arms flailing, my feet sliding beneath me in some spastic imitation of tap-dancing… They turned an enormous tent in the blazing California sun into a musty basement, me into a 21-year-old drunk on cheap beer watching a band blow my mind, making me think that music does make life perfect for fleeting moments... But knowing I'd make a spectacle of myself stage-side and possibly be removed, I just wagged my head fiercely... I envied the kids in the audience sweating and squirming as Thee Oh Sees launched into rave-up after rave-up…

“In fact Thee Oh Sees revive the 'rave-up' (the long-lost ‘60s tradition of a band properly losing control in the middle of a song) (see “Last Time Around” by The Del Vetts, “Psychotic Reaction” by The Count 5, Yardbirds etc)... To me, they have it all… Hypnotic, experimental, melodic, atonal, primitive, sophisticated, pure celebration without a hint of condescension... Best of all they literally bring their practice space onstage with them… Their vocal PA balanced precariously on their weathered gear…

“I love their records but, dear God, do they ever bring the noise live… Yes… Favourite band…”

While I'm here, we've just launched a new Features section on uncut.co.uk, where we've archived a bunch of our best and most popular pieces from the past 17 years of the mag. Take a look at www.uncut.co.uk/features when you have a minute or two.

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