For everyone’s fave alterna-grandaddies,
the sound must go on.
BY NANCY DUNHAM
rockers don’t ever really die but they often fade away much too soon.
So it was with
Dinosaur Jr, the band that rocked the ‘80s and ‘90s with such distinct guitar
solos and feedback distortion that they quickly gained a die-hard fan base that
included such highly respected musicians as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
So just as these
alt music pioneers were leading the way from the sugarcoated music of the 80’s,
they disappeared. What happened?
“It was like a
divorce,” says drummer Murph, who had been playing with the Lemonheads before
teaming back up with his old bandmates in the newly reconstituted Dinosaur Jr. “It wasn’t like it happened overnight. A lot of it was our age… Now,
it’s very different; it’s like a band of brothers.”
Credit Murph, J.
Mascis, and Lou Barlow for realizing that when the band that had formed in 1984
broke up in 1997, the separation didn’t have to last forever. The trio had all
matured and could see how teaming up was something akin to capturing musical
lightening in a bottle. That realization really came to the forefront when
Lou’s mother recruited her son and J. to play for a charity organization. The
two one-time rival songwriters – with encouragement from their manager – bonded
and reach out to Murph.
friends started pushing us,” says Murph. “They said, `You were a great band.
Why don’t you guys do this?’ Now we are here to play music and write music.
It’s very different now.”
Although the three members had played music
during the band’s decade-long hiatus, returning to the music scene as Dinosaur
Jr was something of a culture shock.
“What’s weird is playing festivals and stuff.
In the past we played punk rock shows and all bands were really good,” explains
Murph. “Then, everyone put a lot of effort into their shows; now, it’s more
about the money and the trends and the fads.”
But not all the fans respond to those fads.
Murph admits when the trio regrouped they
expected audiences full of “old dudes” and were amazed to find that mixed in
with their peers are plenty of 20- and 30-something fans.
Expect that base to continue to grow in the wake of the
release of Farm, the band’s newest
album, which arrived in stores courtesy Jagjaguwar
on June 23 – check out “I Don’t Wanna Go There” from the record here. Farm is filled with hooks, hard driving
guitar and just that almost indefinable “alt” sound we all know and love.
To hear Murph tell it, the reason for the cool sound is the
band’s steady-as-she-goes mentality. After regrouping a couple of years ago,
they tested the comeback waters with Beyond (Fat Possum) and toured steadily behind it. For Farm the members cut tracks over the course of about seven months,
sandwiching sessions in between tours. Murph admits he was concerned the new
sound might scream “reunion band” but was “pleasantly surprised when it didn’t.
Now the whole reunion thing is over and we are just a band again.”
“We are like `what
you see is what you get,'” he adds. “What I wear in the afternoon at sound
check is what you get on stage. We go for it, kick out the jams and into what
we are doing. We are very honest and very real. It’s all about the music.”
What’s next? Murph says the band takes things one day at a
time; all they know is the sound will go on.
“We’ve all had big life changes; J. has a son now… When big
things like that happen you can’t help but internalize it in your art. We all
have more balance, more genuine good stuff in our lives that brings more to our
hearts and soul. Now we’ve brought it all to our music.”
[Photo Credit: Brantly Guiterrez]