Renaissance rockers Dinosaur Jr

By Scott Kara

Earth to J Mascis. Come in J ... And, to quote the Dinosaur Jr. frontman himself, "I know you're out there."

It's not that it's hard to track Mascis down, it's getting something out of him that's the problem. He's cool enough. It's just he's a man of few words and what makes things worse is how long he takes to say something.

For example: Are you looking forward to coming back to New Zealand? It was a great gig last time.

"Oh yeah ... [long delay] It was cool."

That show, in March last year, was part of a world tour reuniting the classic Dinosaur Jr. line-up of Mascis, bass player Lou Barlow and drummer Murph for the first time since 1989.

The story goes that Mascis and Barlow hated each others' guts and the latter got booted out of the band after recording Bug in 1989.

"Bug was bad," says Mascis. "The band was falling apart and I pretty much had to do most of it myself."

In the 90s Mascis released four more Dinosaur Jr. albums, pretty much playing all the instruments himself.

Barlow told TimeOut last year: "I suppose musically we had a bit of chemistry but personally there was a stunning lack of anything."

However, in the last year Barlow and Mascis have not only toured together but reconciled enough to record Beyond, the band's best album since Bug and the 1987 classic, You're Living All Over Me. The band return to Auckland on Monday for a show at the Studio on K Rd.

Did you guys get on alright in the studio?

"It was alright because it was at my house. It was pretty mellow but it always seems to take longer if you're recording at home because there's a lot of distractions - the phone, the dogs ... " says Mascis lazily.

Reunion shows are one thing but, as this year's Stooges album The Weirdness proved, reunion albums are harder to pull off.

"I think it's better than the Stooges album," he laughs. He's allowed to say that since he's good mates with the Asheton brothers from the Stooges.

He's right though and Beyond not only has the searing spark of old, but on songs like It's Me, with its heavy metal chug, the band has grown its sound.

"We don't care and we just make music that we'd want to listen to," he says.

These days Mascis reckons he's not as much of a control freak. ("Now, I wouldn't spend two days getting a bass drum sound," he chuckles.)

Are you happier then?

"Yeah, probably. I don't know, I've grown up and figured out how to live a bit better. I don't know ... "


Lowdown

Who: Dinosaur Jr.
Line-up: J. Mascis (singer/guitarist); Lou Barlow (bass); Murph (drums)
Where & when: The Studio, K Rd, Monday.
New album: Beyond, out now

Essential albums: You're Living All Over Me (1987); Bug (1989); Green Mind (1991)

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