Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions 11/16/00 J Mascis interview, San Diego Union Tribune

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    Article from the 11/16/00 San Diego Union-Tribune:

    Quiet man, loud music: Interview with Dinosaur, Jr. leader — sort of

    By Jeff Niesel
    November 16, 2000

    Ask J. Mascis how he feels about being one of the only guitar gods to emerge from the alternative rock scene and you’ll get a curt answer. "I don’t think about it, really," he says via cell phone as his tour van climbs through the Rocky Mountains.
    In fact, all of Mascis’ answers are short. By giving few interviews and being particularly unresponsive when he does talk to the press, the guitarist has created a mystique that only helps to solidify his cult following. Since forming Dinosaur, Jr. some 15 years ago in Amherst, Mass., Mascis has seldom been forthright about any of his decisions or motives, especially when he abruptly kicked bassist Lou Barlow out of Dinosaur, Jr. in 1988. At that point, Barlow was so irate with Mascis, he publicly denounced the move to break up the group and remained sour toward Mascis even as Barlow-fronted acts such as Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion went on to achieve notoriety in the indie-rock world.
    "It’s a long story," Mascis said when asked about the dismissal of Barlow. "Basically, he didn’t talk the first how many years I knew him — maybe five years. And then he got a girlfriend and he started talking all the time. And when he started talking I realized I didn’t like him. . . . I got along with him better when he didn’t talk."
    While Barlow might have had issues with the way Dinosaur, Jr. was run, Mascis said he’s not hard to get along with — he and Barlow just had a "personality conflict." Other collaborations have proved fruitful for Mascis, who recorded incidental music for the soundtrack to "Gas, Food, and Lodging," a 1992 film by his friend Alison Anders. (He also has a small role in her forthcoming film "Things Behind the Sun," but maintains that acting isn’t his bag.)
    And for his latest solo album, "More Light," he recruited reclusive My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields to produce and play on the record — Shields’ distorted guitars nicely complement Mascis own wall of white noise. For the subsequent tour, Mascis has former Minutemen and Firehose bassist Mike Watt backing him up on guitar. An accomplished bassist on his own, Watt said that playing with Mascis has been a challenging experience.
    "I haven’t used a pick in 17 years," said Watt, admitting that he’s never performed with a louder guitarist. "I’ve never played with a Marshall stack, but I’m very inspired by (Mascis). He’s quite a guitarist. I would put him in the same boat with (the late) D Boon (of Minutemen fame). He’s a very intuitive player and a lot of the music scene has a lot of clones."
    Watt and Mascis are a good match because they came out of the same milieu — in the ’80s, Watt’s band, the Minutemen, recorded for the influential indie label SST Records, and Dinosaur, Jr. was on the same label.
    Mascis’ muddy guitar work and whisper-thin vocals haven’t changed much over the years, and he’s been cited as everything from an alternative-rock Neil Young to an inspiration for grunge.
    Mascis said that early on, Dinosaur, Jr., which broke up in 1997, was looking to sign with SST Records because of the label’s creative-minded roster. And Watt admitted that the label and the alternative scene then was creative in ways that today’s isn’t.
    "I was lucky, because my experience with the punk scene was the SST days with Husker Du, the Meat Puppets and Black Flag," he said. "None of those people copied each other. I think things come in cycles, and I think we might be breaking into a place where people are bored with the one sound and the one pose and one set of metal hanging from your face. That used to be a very individualistic scene, but now it’s not — even tattoos are very generic."

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