Home › Forums › Dinosaur Related Discussions › Dinosaur/J News & Discussions › Launch Interview More Light: A Dinosaur Reborn 01/05/2001
- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 20 years, 8 months ago by simmons.
September 24, 2002 at 9:45 am #43227
Its an old 1
Mostly its about More Light
But still interesting
FEATURE – A Dinosaur Reborn
By Mac Randall
In rock journalist circles, J Mascis is infamous for being a terrible interview. The former leader of Dinosaur Jr., arguably one of the most influential American indie-rock bands of the past 20 years, speaks in a slow, croaky monotone, and you’re lucky if you get more than a few words out of him on any given subject. Following Dinosaur’s demise in 1997, Mascis became even quieter, dropping out of the limelight entirely for a couple of years, but he re-emerged a few months back with a new album, More Light, credited to J Mascis & the Fog but played principally by Mascis himself, with brief appearances from Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. The 11 tracks on More Light are the best that he’s produced since Dino’s late-’80s/early-’90s heyday, a signature mixture of angry crunch and mopey twang that spotlights his fiery lead guitar playing. But although Mascis’s music may be newly invigorated, his interview style still leaves something to be desired.
Or does it? When J recently sat down to talk with LAUNCH in New York City, some of his responses to our questions may have seemed frustrating to the interviewer at the time, but in retrospect, they take on an added humor–dare we say hilarity?–of which it’s unlikely the interviewee was unaware. Take these exchanges, for example:
LAUNCH: What inspired "Where’d You Go" [one of the new album’s standout tracks]?
MASCIS: [Begins humming] Trying to sing it, think about it… [Continues humming for a long time, moving into higher register, finally] Um, it’s hard. I’m having a hard time remembering the song and putting it all together. It’s been a long time, I wrote it a long time ago.
LAUNCH: How about "Does The Kiss Fit" [another new song]?
MASCIS: I don’t know, just misunderstanding relationships. You know, different people’s relationships I’ve witnessed or been a part of here and there. People have a hard time relating to each other in a normal way. Everyone I know are all just like…freaks, and it’s hard to all get together and relate to each other.
LAUNCH: How do you think the new songs fit with your older material?
MASCIS: Fine. [Laughs]
LAUNCH: Do you ever think you don’t get your due, in terms of your influence on the current music scene?
MASCIS: Ah, I don’t really think about it. I mean, I’m still being influenced myself. To think of myself as an influence on somebody, it’s kind of a weird concept.
LAUNCH: Did you ever imagine when you were a kid growing up that you’d be able to support yourself playing music for as long as you’ve been able to do it?
MASCIS: I never thought that far ahead, really. I wanted to be able to support myself before college ended by playing music, and that happened, so I was happy about that. I didn’t have to go back to the gas station."All I wanted was to be able to support myself before college ended by playing music, and that happened, so I was happy about that. I didn’t have to go back to the gas station."
LAUNCH: When people go back through the Dinosaur catalog, what do you want people to take away from those records?
MASCIS: I guess…you know…if they like…play ’em if they like ’em, I don’t really know. There’s nothing really heavy about it, it’s just if you like it, that’s great.
LAUNCH: Do you think you’re still learning as a musician?
MASCIS: Oh, yeah. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. It might be better to unlearn than to learn more.
LAUNCH: What’s your opinion on the state of music today? The industry seems to have gotten so much more cutthroat. There’s almost no artist development anymore.
MASCIS: There isn’t any, yeah. Even if a guy had a hit last record, if he doesn’t have a hit this record, he’s out. Yeah, there’s nobody who likes music. It’s not about music at all. The business is so in-your-face and apparent. There’s no mercy. But that’s cool, you know? [Chuckles]
LAUNCH: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
MASCIS: Uh, that I watch TV all day, maybe, or something like that…
One factor that may have added to J’s brevity was the presence in the room of Mike Watt, the legendary bassist for the Minutemen and Firehose who, following his recovery from a life-threatening illness, signed on to tour with Mascis in support of More Light. Watt’s an outgoing, talkative guy, and J deferred to him frequently. But as the interview wore on, Mascis found a little more to say; questions about the genesis of Dinosaur Jr. in early ’80s Amherst, Massachusetts, and taking up the guitar after starting out playing drums produced almost effusive responses.
"I just wanted to start a band and I didn’t know anybody that played guitar any good," J said. "I knew some guys who played like Pink Floyd"–he laughed–"or really fast like Al Di Meola or something"–more laughter–"but you know, I thought I could just try to learn the guitar and play, ’cause I figured I could teach someone how to play drums, ’cause I’d had a lot of drum lessons and I understood how I could teach somebody to play the drums. I had a good understanding of that, it didn’t seem like it would be a big problem. ‘Cause in all the songs, the drums are part of the song, so there’s not much room for improvisation anyway. Just to teach someone the songs is like teaching them a lot. [Dinosaur drummer] Murph was always psyched because I’d teach him all these weird beats that he’d never think to play. They were just part of the song.
"When I first started playing, the concept of Dinosaur was like ear-bleeding country," J continued. "Playing country really loud. It just seemed like, oh yeah, nobody plays country really loud. I’m not sure why, but…I think it came out of playing drums. Guitar seemed so wimpy to me when I started playing it, I couldn’t get any power out of it, so I was trying to play it so I could get some dynamics out of it. I felt I could express myself a lot better on drums–you can just pound ’em–and with the guitar, I just wanted it to feel more pounding too."
How about Mascis’s brief time playing in notorious shock-rocker G.G. Allin’s band?
"Unpleasant," J said. "It smelled bad. After they threw him out of the club, we went home, basically. I mean, within minutes he’s covered with sh-t and blood. You know, it’s one of those things that seems like a punk-rock thing to do, but then when you do it, you’re like, hmm, well, maybe this is not too cool." Mascis cracked up at this point.
"I get asked a lot of wack stuff about J," says Mike Watt. "One guy asked me, ‘How many bong hits does it take before you and him can start relating?’ That’s these guys’ idea, you know, that it’s some f–ked-up thing. He’s got a really active mind, he’s intense. I’ve been around a lot of people, and a lot of people might say more words faster, but it’s f–kin’ dead air, it’s stupid, it’s banter, it’s f–kin’ windbag. So you know, maybe that ain’t good. It’s better to measure the words."
Watt may have a point there. And so we’ll leave the last words to J:
LAUNCH: What are your plans for the next few months?
MASCIS: Just touring, and I’m going to go to India for a little while, then tour some more, maybe.
LAUNCH: How about the next album?
MASCIS: I’ve started recording the next one already. Got some stuff.
LAUNCH: How does it compare to this one?
MASCIS: Exactly the same. Note for note. [Laughs]
(interview conducted by Darren Davis)
[img]http://www.gamers-forums.com/smilies/otn/blobs/pinkie.gif[/img]September 26, 2002 at 4:32 am #55308
one of the better interviews I’ve read in a while. While reading it I actually pictured the reporter and J sitting in an old hamburger bar in texas, like the one you see in the road movies. And eventhough I can’t tell what the reporter looked like, I could perfectly well see J sitting in a in his blue t-shirt answering questions.
thanks for the interview. <img>
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