Lou Barlow Keeps Folk Implosion Alive, Without Partner

A year after co-founder John Davis quit, band has album and tour in the works.

Although co-founder John Davis left the Folk Implosion almost a year ago, indie rock pin-up Lou Barlow has continued recording under the name and will take a retooled band on the road this spring.

The Folk Implosion kick off a 25-date tour April 13 — mostly opening for the Melvins — and plan to finish an album by late summer.

Davis, whose early-'90s demo tapes inspired Sebadoh singer/guitarist Barlow to form Folk Implosion as a side project, quit the band — and music altogether — last spring. The two had worked until then as a duo.

"It's a total bummer," Barlow said from his Los Angeles home Thursday (March 29). "He was one of the most unique talents. He just couldn't hack it. He couldn't handle the traveling or the patience it takes to record. Some people have it in them, some people don't. We had that hit early on and it really threw him. He was like, 'Oh my God, we had a hit. People are going to knock on my door. '"

The Folk Implosion have yet to become household names, but their 1995 single "Natural One," from the soundtrack to the movie "Kids," was a surprise hit. The duo followed with the albums Dare to Be Surprised (1997), which featured the single "Insinuation," and One Part Lullaby (1999).

Davis' departure, along with Barlow's severe writer's block, has delayed the Folk Implosion's next album.

"Our collaboration was basically the basis for Folk Implosion," Barlow said. "Now that the record is in such a weird state, I sometimes think, 'Why the hell did I even try to do this?' "

But Barlow has soldiered on, along with longtime producer Wally Gagel, and music for 14 tracks has been recorded.

"It's my duty to go through them and figure out how to put vocals on them, which I'm having an extraordinarily difficult time doing for some reason," Barlow said. "It's been a really, really slow process."

Barlow described the songs as "all over the place," but said the material has elements of One Part Lullaby.

"I don't focus on one thing," Barlow said. "I play guitar and bass and keyboards and drums, but I never stay on anything long enough to become a specialist at it. My voice is not very dynamic. My strengths lie in f---ing around with all kinds of music."

Barlow has been recording with Sebadoh drummer and keyboardist Russell Pollard, who recruited guitarist Imaad Wasif to join the band. When Wasif's friends in the Aberdeen, Washington grunge survivors the Melvins asked if they would play some shows with them, Barlow saw a chance to get out of the studio.

"It's a good way to do it without it being, 'Here's our tour and here's our new record,' " Barlow said.

Barlow, who started out as Dinosaur Jr.'s bass player, will return to that instrument for the Folk Implosion tour and handle all of the vocals for the first time since forming the band in 1993.

"It could be interesting," he said. "We haven't practiced yet. We're going to start on Monday. We have less than two weeks to work up a 45-minute set."

After playing 18 shows with the Melvins, the Folk Implosion will headline seven dates, with Barlow playing solo and Alaska (Pollard and Wasif's other band) as the openers.

The Melvins, who have released more than a dozen albums since 1986 and were an early inspiration to Nirvana, are touring in support of Electroretard, released in February.

As for Sebadoh, who last released an album, The Sebadoh, in 1999, Barlow said the band is on hold, but not finished. He hopes to record with them next year.

Folk Implosion tour dates, according to Interscope Records:

With the Melvins

  • 4/13 - San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick

  • 4/14 - Tempe, AZ @ Nita's Hideaway

  • 4/15 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad

  • 4/17 - Austin, TX @ Stubbs Barbeque

  • 4/18 - Houston, TX @ Engine Room

  • 4/19 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues

  • 4/20 - Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club

  • 4/21 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle

  • 4/22 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat

  • 4/24 - Boston, MA @ Middle East

  • 4/25 - Clifton, NY @ Northern Lights

  • 4/26 - New Haven, CT @ Toad's Place

  • 4/27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts

  • 4/28 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

  • 4/29 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Laga

  • 5/1 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall

  • 5/2 - Chicago, IL @ Metro

  • 5/3 - Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club

With Lou Barlow solo and Alaska

  • 5/6 - Seattle, WA @ Graceland

  • 5/7 - Portland, OR @ Pine Street Theatre

  • 5/9 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's

  • 5/10 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

  • 5/11 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

  • 5/12 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Club 634

  • 5/13 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubadour