Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dinosaur Jr. - An Encounter With the Beast: Part One

Here's the transcript of another interview from KCMU's Wire. As with my Lucinda Williams piece, I've made a few changes to my intro and outro, but I've left the Q&A as is, with the exception of the phrase "you guys" (what was I thinking?). The publication date was sometime in 1989. In the meantime, Merge has reissued Dinosaur Jr.'s early (Homestead and SST) recordings and the original trio even reformed to tour in support of them. Who saw that coming? At the time I met with J (Joseph D. Mascis), Murph (Emmett Patrick Murphy), and then-manager Steve, Lou Barlow (Sebadoh) was just days away from leaving the group.

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There are a couple of reasons why I was intimidated about interviewing Dinosaur Jr. First of all, they have a reputation for hating interviews. When they do show up for them, they often have little to say. It's a lot of work for the interviewer to try to get them to talk, little fun for this rather private band to do so, and boring for the reader who wants to learn more about them, only to discover that: They just don't reveal much!

So why did I want to want to interview them at all? Well, I think Dinosaur Jr. is one of the best groups on the scene today. There isn't another rock combo putting things together quite like they do. Imagine a vocal approach that recalls vintage folk-rock, like early Dylan or Neil Young, mated with a late-1960s power trio dynamic, like Hendrix or Cream, but taken further into the guitar-as-wall-of-sound 1980s via Husker Du and Sonic Youth. And there ya go: Dinosaur Jr. They look backward, they look forward--they never look straight ahead. Confusion reigns supreme. They're the ultimate band for our strange, pre-apocalyptic times

Those are the reasons why I was intimidated about interviewing Dinosaur Jr. But everything seemed to go okay. Basically, they weren't the most articulate or outgoing guys around, but J (vocals, guitar) and Murph (drums) were two of the most down-to-earth--if sarcastic--musicians I've met in some time, and I actually enjoyed talking with them. There aren't any deep or penetrating insights here, but they did have something to say about just about everything. With hope, you'll at least come away with a better idea as to what they're like as people. Read on!

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Fennessy: I've been told that you are really tired, and I know you've been to Europe...

J: Well, we went to Europe, and now we are here.

Fennessy: I was wondering if you could talk about your European tour. It seemed like you got a really big reception there, especially in England; I just read so much press.

J: In Germany we were really big. In England...we're cool.

Fennessy: Were you surprised at the reception you got in England? I mean, I just got the impression they thought you were the next--the biggest thing.

Murph: We're still on our way up. We're going back after this tour.

J: We were really, really big in Germany.

Murph: Yeah.

J: We were like, got like all "best band" awards and all this garbage... Germany was bigger than England.

Fennessy: It's just the British press. I'm not familiar with what people would think in Germany.

Murph: Yeah. The British press is really harsh, though.

Fennessy: Not on you! It seemed like everybody was really into your album [Bug].

Murph: But they're just--I'm not really into the way they write. They use like these totally flaming metaphors.

J: And they live it. The scary thing is they live off it. I mean, the papers come out every week.

Murph: And the people just seem totally susceptible to whatever they say.

Click here for part two

Note: All images from the AMG (Robert Goldstein
credited for the second photo). End part one of three.

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