Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions Flagpole interview/review, October 2001

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    Hope this is new to the board…pretty cool interview.


    J Mascis
    Out Of The Haze, Into The Fog

    "What’s changed about music since I started out? Rock and roll is always changing, but… I mean it has and it hasn’t, but… I don’t know. I guess I have a more positive outlook now than before… ‘mellowed out’ isn’t the right term… I guess I’ve just pulled my mind together a little bit more."
    Guitarist J Mascis is mumbling into his telephone from an apartment in New York City. The punk/indie rock icon sounds bored, tired and indifferent. He’s been on the phone all day speaking with music journalists about his music. He’s almost run out of patience. He’s exactly how he’s always been.

    Mascis, of course, emerged out of the early-’80s rock underground with the mighty Dinosaur Jr. – a trio from Amherst, MA capable of creating the sludgiest, most frightening wall of guitar and drum noise since Sabbath’s early days. Since making its mark in the mid ’80s with the stonerific You’re Living All Over Me and Bug albums on the then-vital SST Records label, and 1993’s Where You Been (which spawned the band’s biggest hit single "Start Choppin’), Dinosaur Jr. survived a tumultuous decade in which Mascis basically became the band, playing all the instruments on the albums and calling all the shots on tour. It’s barely been four years since he officially disbanded the project, but he’s already back to his shenanigans with a strong new album titled More Light (Ultimatum) under the moniker J Mascis & The Fog. Simply put, this is the best thing Mascis has released since Dino Jr.’s classic Bug.

    "I don’t know… I just wanted to do another record," says Mascis, speaking in his trademark nasal tone. "[My Bloody Valentine’s] Kevin Shields came over and helped me out. He played a couple of rhythm guitars on some tracks but mostly just produced. We recorded it in my house in Amherst. I wasn’t trying to do anything new, particularly. I wrote some of the songs on piano and that was different…"

    More Light features 11 new songs including the lead single "Where’d You Go" mixed by Jack Joseph Puig (producer/mixer for Hole, Verve Pipe and Black Crowes). Recorded over several months at Mascis’ house in Amherst, My Bloody Valentine’s main man Shields helped produce and Guided By Voices’ frontman Bob Pollard contributed vocals. The album features all the trademarks that made Dinosaur Jr. so great: fuzzed-out guitars, croaking vocals, twisting chord changes, and anxiety-ridden lyrics. The use of keyboards and organs and Mascis’ sludgy guitar riffing and squealing blend perfectly. The album is currently the #1 most added album at college radio, jumping from #176 to #27 after one-week on CMJ’s Top 200.

    "Drums are part of the album for me," says Mascis, whose loosely punctuated drum style helps propel the record. "It’s not like something where you can just do what you want. I think some people think of drums as just like the beat or something, like you could just have a drum machine and it wouldn’t matter. But I hear the drums as an important part of the song. There’s room for fills and stuff, but there are a lot of beats that have to be on. Early on, some songs I wouldn’t record because Murph [of the original Dinosaur Jr. line-up] couldn’t pull ’em off. Some drummers have limitations, you know, George Berz [formerly of Gobblehoof, currently of the current touring line-up] plays more similar to me I think and he does pretty well."

    This is Mascis’ first major record release and tour in years. He says he’s ready and very excited about his band, which includes another American music icon and SST veteran, bassist Mike Watt (ex-Minutemen, fIREHOSE).
    "We were more like fans of SST when Dino signed on," says Mascis of the early days. "Our goal was to be on SST. We never felt like family with those guys, but more just like fans. Watt’s gonna play in my band on the tour. George Berz is on drums… Murph and I did a bunch of Stooges covers with Watt [at] three shows in New York recently – one at Brownies and two at the Knitting Factory… it went pretty good."

    Can fans expect as loud a show as Mascis and company have always delivered? Absolutely. It’s going to sound loud, look loud, feel loud. The startlingly high volume factor has always been and will remain a major component of the Mascis approach.

    "I just like playing loud, I guess. Just for my own amusement. It’s effective. You can hear stuff in your brain that’s not really happening. It should be kinda loose like always… unless Watt whips us into shape!"

    Ballard Lesemann

    WHO: J Mascis & The Fog, Six Gig, Jet By Day
    WHERE: 40 Watt Club
    WHEN: Tuesday, October 24
    HOW MUCH: $10

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