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August 4, 2005 at 4:07 am #48303
August 03, 2005 12:27 PM
by Jim Harrington
Original Source: http://www.livedaily.com/interviews/liv … 3.html?t=1
t’s hard to overestimate the role Dinosaur Jr. (tickets | music) played in crafting the fuzzy-guitar-rich sound that came to define alt-rock in the ’90s.
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The band is right up with–or, arguably, a rung below–the Pixies when it comes to having influenced such multi-million-selling grunge acts as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Of course, Dinosaur Jr. didn’t sell many records, even by modest Pixies standards. The group never even scored a single gold record. That, however, might change. Merge Records has reissued Dinosaur Jr.’s first three albums–1985’s "Dinosaur," 1987’s "You’re Living All Over Me" and 1988’s "Bug"–and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
In fact, the response has been so great that it helped convince the band’s original trio–vocalist/guitarist/mastermind J. Mascis, drummer Emmett Jefferson "Murph" Murphy III and bassist Lou Barlow– to regroup for a major international tour.
This is a huge deal for Dino fans. This original lineup only lasted from 1984 until 1989. Barlow was the first to leave the group. Murph remained through the band’s spin on the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. Mascis would continue to charge on under the moniker for a few more years, last releasing a studio record under the Dino name in 1997.
Since reuniting, the trio has scored some impressive gigs–Lollapalooza, the Quebec City Summer Festival, Fuji Rock, to name a few–and has been garnering great reviews.
Murph recently spoke to liveDaily from a hotel room in Los Angeles, during a layover between playing Fuji Rock in Japan and heading over to Europe for a batch of dates.
liveDaily: Fuji Rock always has one of the hottest festival lineups of the year. Too bad it’s located about a zillion miles from my house. What did you think of the festival?
Murph: It was great. It was really good. It’s really well organized. It’s really efficient. And there were a lot of other cool bands.
How did your set go?
Really good. I’m amazed, because these [reunion] shows just feel like it’s ’87 all over again. People are really into "Freak Scene" [from "Bug"] and, like, "In a Jar" [from "You’re Living All Over Me"]. People are, like, jumping around. It’s really cool.
Were you guys big in Japan back in the day?
I was in the band after Lou. J. and I went a couple of times to Japan. J. has been back since. But when it was me, Lou and Jay [together], we didn’t quite make it there. Right when we started doing a lot of traveling, that’s when [Barlow] left.
The reviews that I’ve read of the shows have been overwhelmingly positive. Do you feel like the band is finally getting its due respect?
It feels like we are being appreciated. But I feel like we were being appreciated back [in the ’80s] as well.
What makes Dinosaur Jr. different than many of the other bands on the scene?
I think we are like a real-good-old-fashioned rock band. We don’t use computers. We don’t have a sequencer. There are no tricks. It’s all right there. I think that’s impressive for a lot of the kids today because they are so used to [those other things]. It’s kind of cool for people to say, ‘Wow, these guys are [good]."
Those first three albums–especially "You’re Living All Over Me" and "Bug"–still sound very fresh to my ears, despite the fact that some of the material is roughly 20 years old. How is that material translating in concert?
I don’t feel like the material sounds dated at all. I feel like it is really current.
It’s funny; I talked with two people who saw the band’s set at this year’s Lollapalooza. Both of them basically said the same thing: That the band still sounded relevant.
I would agree, depending on what context. There was a certain core of, like, a certain energy and a vibe that was put out there in the early ’80s and through the later ’80s. I think it’s just good to feel that type of music and let people hear what some of that energy was like.
How long will this reunion last? Will you guys stay together indefinitely? And, if so, can we expect an album of new material? I really hope you say yes to that last question.
We really haven’t talked about that. [The reunion] is more just a one-off. J. was going to release those first three CDs anyway. There was such big response from getting the three of us back together, literally, from family and friends and a lot of fans. Just from everywhere, people wanted to see us, the original three, play together. There was such a great reaction.
I just have to ask: Was this reunion inspired by the success that your fellow alt-rock innovators–the Pixies–had upon returning to the stage last year?
No. (Laughs.) There was no connection at all. Literally, our management team was like, "We really want to see you guys play and we’ve got some crazy offers and there’s just a lot out there that we think you should do." And we were like, "OK, sounds cool." But we really hadn’t been thinking about it. There was no special meeting or powwow or anything. It just kind of happened spontaneously.
But you can see why some people–OK, maybe, just me–might be suspicious that the success of the Pixies inspired you guys to get back together.
If we were, like, 50 or 55 [years old], then I’d say, yeah, that reasoning might be true. But not right now. I feel tighter and more powerful than I did back [during the band’s first go-around]. I feel like we are better players and the show is better, in a way.
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