Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions J More Light Interview in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer

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    J Mascis is washing dishes at his home in Amherst, Mass. He’s also doing his best to clear up questions regarding his first album following the dissolution of his band, Dinosaur Jr. That he named the new project J Mascis and the Fog is appropriate.

    "Can’t vegetate no more/Snap me out of it," goes one lyric on the new album "More Light." And snapping Mascis out of a seeming fog becomes the interviewer’s challenge.

    A warm-up question regarding his 5-year-old bulldog Bob – who provided the name for Mascis’ home studio, Bob’s Place – elicits a return of just a few mumbled syllables.

    Is Bob well-behaved or does he cause the occasional accident in the studio? "Oh, occasionally. Not too much."

    Nothing irreparable?

    "Sometimes, but …"

    He eventually comes around, but it takes a significant number of questions to produce enough quotes for, say, a short profile previewing his gig this Monday at the Grog Shop. It’s not that he’s unintelligent or rude – he’s just not a sparkling conversationalist. That he’s willing to undergo a process that makes him so visibly uncomfortable reveals the extent to which he wants people to hear his work.

    And he has reason to be proud. Mascis is a unique songwriter and a monster guitarist from the Neil Young school of squalling leads. Dinosaur Jr. spawned legions of imitators through the ’90s with Mascis’ marriage of hyper-fuzzed guitar and lilting melodies sung in his sleepy drawl. Some called it grunge. He called it "something I wanted to listen to."

    It follows that what he wants to listen to now is a more sophisticated version of his heavy pop music. The new material is more varied, with touches of piano, acoustic guitar and effected keyboards, but Mascis’ signature remains: wild arcs of electric guitar fighting to revive his lethargic voice. Does guitar still present a challenge for him?

    "Oh yeah. I’m not at Yngwie (Malmsteen) level or anything," he says, sarcastically referencing the fleet-fingered baroque-metal guitarist. "I never really practice guitar. I don’t even like practicing with the band. We just started playing gigs. That was our practice."

    Through Dinosaur Jr.’s 14-year history, Mascis was notorious for a high turnover of bandmates. The Fog now gives him the flexibility to work with whom he likes without fan expectation. For his live show, Mascis has recruited former Minutemen/Firehose bassist Mike Watt and Dinosaur Jr. drummer George Berz.

    For the recording, the guitarist enlisted help from two other rock enigmas: Guided By Voices’ Bob Pollard, who added backing vocals to several tracks, and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, who co-produced and contributed guitar to half the album. And what conversation emanates from The Fog between takes in the studio?

    "I haven’t seen Bob in years," he says. "I just sent him a tape and he sent it back." And Shields? "We talk about whatever: global conspiracies, aliens, guitar (effects) pedals and stuff."

    Does making music get easier over time in the way that, say, your golf game might improve?

    "(Golf) is not like other sports where you can practice a lot and improve. It’s kind of random. Like my friend played 90 times one year, and he was worse at the end of the year than when he started. It’s a really weird game."

    A couple of the new songs are reminiscent of Kiss. Was the band an influence?

    "Ace (Frehley) was a guitar inspiration to me when I was starting. People aren’t into him because he’s not superfast, but he’s got something. I saw the first reunion show. Madison Square Garden. It was pretty rocking."

    Does Mike Watt’s do-it-yourself approach to his career appeal to you? "I thought SST (the label Dinosaur Jr. once shared with the Watt’s Minutemen) was the pinnacle. That was our goal when we started the band: To try to get on SST. But what do you do after you’ve achieved your goal? You’re still alive. You gotta do something. I never really had another goal like that."

    He does have plans, though. He’ll continue touring behind the album before starting work on new material in the fall. You can also watch for him in the Alison Anders’ film "Things Behind The Sun," in which he plays a drummer. And he’s recording the next Beachwood Sparks album at Bob’s Place.

    And at Bob’s Place, the dishes are finished and the topics are exhausted – or at least the subject is. There’s a lengthier than usual pause that signals Mascis is ready to wrap up his other afternoon chore with one more question.

    Any surprises planned for Cleveland?

    "I don’t know. (If there is) it’ll be a surprise to me as well as everybody else."



    Thanks for posting [img]http://www.freakscene.net/ubb/smilies/face-icon-small-smile.gif[/img] Great interview!


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