“We got banned from all the clubs in Western Mass. And I remember in Boston a sound guy throwing a bottle at me.”
Why do rock bands endure it all: slogging equipment, living in squalor, the rejection and hardship? Because if you are working with a few like-minded folks in the pursuit of something awesome, being miserable is a triviality. For Dinosaur Jr., an achingly melody-fueled power trio formed from the ashes of several Amherst-area hardcore bands in 1984, the pursuit of awesome came at the price of happiness, harmony, and ultimately the band itself. Notoriously laconic Dino main man Joseph "J" Mascis took the reins of the band after the departure/firing of bassist Lou Barlow (later to form a little band called Sebadoh), and captained the band through four major-label albums that coincided nicely with the boom times of early '90s "alternative" culture. He retired the Dino moniker in 1998, content to pursue solo matters — but the people clamored for the original Dinosaur, and six years ago Barlow and Mascis buried the hatchet and resumed punishing eardrums with original drummer Murph in tow. Next week, they rattle the walls of the Paradise with the sounds of 1988's Bug — the album that gave the band its first big college-radio hit "Freak Scene," but also the last straw in the originalfragile Mascis-Barlow alliance. When I caught up with J on the eve of the tour, which also drags along ex-Black Flag frontmen Henry Rollins and Keith Morris (the latter with his new Off! punk project), he wasn't exactly wearing his rose-colored glasses for the impending sonic trip back to '88.
A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, I READ YOU INTERVIEWING OZZY OSBOURNE IN A MAGAZINE. YOU TOLD HIM THAT YOUR FAVORITE SABBATH ALBUM WASSABOTAGE, AND THAT KIND OF BUMMED HIM OUT BECAUSE TO HIM,SABOTAGE REPRESENTED THE BAND FALLING APART. I'M CURIOUS IF REVISITINGBUG, PLAYING THE WHOLE ALBUM, IS KIND OF A SIMILAR THING FOR YOU?
Yeah, I definitely related to what he was saying about that album. But who knows? We haven't gotten together to play or practice it yet, so who knows what it will bring up? Bad memories, etc.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OFBUG, AT THIS POINT?
I dunno. It's kind of like, it has bad connotations to me. I don't really like it that much.
YOU HAVE THIS PUBLIC IMAGE AS BEING A SLACKER POSTER BOY, AND YET YOU'VE PUT OUT A TON OF STUFF OVER THE YEARS, WITH DINO OR SOLO. DOES THIS FRUSTRATE YOU?
It's kind of a dichotomy: people think that I'm really lazy but also I'm doing a lot of records all the time. But I guess I feel like I, myself, do come across that way, as lazy somehow.
DINOSAUR JR. WAS/IS INSANELY LOUD: WERE YOU HASSLED BY SOUND GUYS EARLY ON? AND WAS IT ALL FORCE OF WILL THAT GOT YOU THROUGH YOUR EARLY DAYS?
Oh yeah, that's all we had, the will. We got banned from all the clubs in Western Mass. And I remember in Boston a sound guy throwing a bottle at me. Yeah, it wasn't easy, it's not easy to play loud if you have no fans, because then you're just annoying people, you know? It's a hard position to start in, to want to play really loud and to have no fans.