"If that's what they wanna call it, that's fine, but over the years J and I have learned to stay away from reading reviews and all that," he said, clearly awake now. "The media is so fucking . . . destructive, it's like, 'Just stay the fuck away,' ya know?
"When someone says, 'Oh you should read this great review of you guys,' it's nice, but we'd rather just stay the fuck away from that."
JOHN AGNELLO WEIGHS IN
Someone the band wholeheartedly trusts is indie rock super-producer John Agnello, who has worked on every Mascis-related release dating back to 1993's breakthrough album Where You Been. Cross-reference your '90s indie-rock CD collection with his discography — from Buffalo Tom and the Breeders to Son Volt and Jawbox, to more recent contributions with Sonic Youth and the Hold Steady, Agnello's Midas touch is undeniable. He offered his insights through our e-mail Q&A.
HOW DOES THE NEW ALBUM FARM DIFFER FROM BEYOND? This new record is a bit more stripped down and not as brash. It's more immediate with less emphasis on overdub guitars. J takes his lead guitar chops to the next level. Top to bottom, this is one of the most consistent Dino records ever.
WERE J AND THE GUYS MORE RELAXED IN THE STUDIO THIS TIME AROUND, OR DID YOU SENSE ANY PRESSURE ON THEM TO RELEASE ANOTHER SOLID REUNION ALBUM? I can't imagine J is under any more pressure on this record, but I imagine there's a certain amount of pressure on every record. He's made so many records and he just does his thing, but he never coasts. J has an incredible work ethic.
HOW DOES THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP DIFFER IN THE STUDIO WITH LOU INSTEAD OF MIKE JOHNSON? I think Lou is more of a foil for J as opposed to Mike, who was just a band member. I could also see an immediate difference during the live shows — Lou has a great rapport with the fans. I think they've reached a stage in their career where they are comfortable with each other, even with their weird idiosyncrasies. Considering they are all quirky on one level or another, it's great that they work together this well.
DOES IT STILL BLOW YOUR MIND TO WATCH J SHRED ON GUITAR AFTER ALL THESE YEARS? J blows my mind constantly, I marvel at how good he is. During Thurston's solo record (2007's Trees Outside the Academy), when we needed him to jam on a track, he would just plug in and play. He would barely listen to the song and knew where it was going. He's a badass.
J HAS LONG BEEN VIEWED AS BEING A RECLUSE WHO DOESN'T REALLY WANT TO BE BOTHERED BY FANS. WHAT IS HE LIKE AWAY FROM THE SPOTLIGHT? I think the image of J isn't accurate. Granted I've known him for about 16 years, but he's actually a lot of fun. J is obviously not the outgoing type, but you either get accustomed to it or fill in the spaces. We laugh a lot when we hang out together, usually at each others' expense. At SXSW he was totally cool with taking pictures with fans who approached him.