Jahfin Posted November 29, 2007 Share Posted November 29, 2007 http://flagpole.com/Music/Features/DinosaurJr/2007-11-28 Dinosaur Jr. Brantley Gutierrez In the spring of 2005, Dinosaur Jr. rose from the grave more than 15 years after the original line-up of singer/guitarist J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer James Patrick Murphy (A.K.A. “Murph”) parted ways. The bitter break-up was not the end of Dinosaur Jr., but the end of the group’s golden era, which is fossilized in three seminal American alt-punk records Dinosaur (1985), You’re Living All Over Me (1987) and Bug (1988). The years surrounding these albums were plagued by egos and infighting, which led to a great schism between Mascis and Barlow. The tensions that swelled between them, which ultimately led to Barlow’s expulsion from Dinosaur Jr., are the stuff of indie-rock legend. After those tumultuous years, Mascis carried on with Dinosaur Jr. to release five studio albums and dozens of singles, EPs and live recordings while Barlow carried on in the groups Sebadoh, Sentriddoh and the Folk Implosion. Over time Dinosaur Jr. sank deeper into the muddy mire of Mascis’ blown-speaker hybrid of slow punk and classic rock-damaged songwriting. In the meantime, the tape loops and experimental leanings that were born in early Dinosaur songs like “Raisans” and “Poledo” blossomed into the artier pop textures of Barlow’s groups. A lot had changed over the years, so much so that the original Dinosaur Jr. line-up was nothing more than a distant memory, never to be repeated. But in April of 2005 the group announced that the original trio was reuniting for a full-fledged tour across the country. When asked about the possibility of reconvening to record another album, J., Lou and Murph all hesitated, saying that it would most likely never happen. But fate had other plans, and in May of this year Dinosaur released Beyond, 11 brand new songs that pick up the pieces where the group left off with Bug. From the opening, fuzzed-out ark of “Almost Ready.” The familiar and frazzled pop harmonies drowning in post-punk sludge give a rejuvenating blast to the group’s sound. But there’s a relaxed quality that takes shape as the album unfolds. Any and all sense of turmoil that bound the group’s original output is washed in a haze of sunny melodies. The two Barlow-penned songs most telling about the group’s course of evolution are “Back to Your Heart” and “Lightning Bulb.” Both bare the distinctive mark of Barlow’s bittersweet reflection, filtered through the noisy and aggressive tones of Dinosaur’s footprints. Gone is any sense of malevolence or experimentation and any impression of the tension that once caused him to get kicked out of the group. In its place is the presence of a more confident and mature sense of chemistry and catharsis that quashes all of the issues that were once left unresolved. Last week Flagpole spent some time on the phone with Barlow. Flagpole By now you’ve had time to ruminate on Dinosaur Jr. Has your perspective on the group changed? Lou Barlow Not really. It still feels the same. Doing the record was a nice surprise. I was psyched that J. was into it and it was cool that he was willing to put himself up to doing a record like this, considering everything that has taken place. He’s been doing Dinosaur Jr. for ages. It was a nice surprise that everyone was into it, but I don’t know if it changed the way I feel about the band. Flagpole It seems like you are all getting along better than ever before. Lou Barlow Yeah, I find it easy to hang out with those guys, considering how much time we’ve spent together. Flagpole Did this album come together differently from the previous three Dinosaur Jr. albums with this line-up? Lou Barlow We did it at J.’s house. The recording schedule was very relaxed. We did it over five months. There was nothing like that back in the day. [Then] it was like “okay, we got four days in the studio, hurry up…” The second record we pieced together after a few studio sessions, but they were short sessions. In that way it was totally different. As the record started to take shape, I thought, 'okay, I can write a song or two.' I’ve been writing songs ever since I was kicked out of the band and I’m a lot more confident now than I was back then, so I can take some ideas to the Dinosaur altar and make an offering and see what happens. There is really no comparison. We are also a lot older and a lot more relaxed these days. Flagpole Your songwriting on Beyond is pretty straightforward, with none of the noise or experimentation that you brought to You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. Did you get all of that out of your system with Sebadoh? Lou Barlow It would seem gratuitous if I were to do it now. I would be like “Oh… I have to get in there and put my tape loops in now…” I did it back then because it was very personal to me. With Sebadoh a lot of what I did became more segregated. I started doing all of that tape stuff on my solo recordings. With Folk Implosion I got into samplers. At the time when I was doing Dinosaur there was such an urgency to bring every idea to the table, and it was just the spirit of the times. Things were more experimental at the time. With Sebadoh I found my legs and switched to just playing a regular six-string guitar, which led to me playing these more standard song structures. Doing the tape loops now doesn’t have the same emotional weight for me. That stuff has to come from a very emotional place or it just seems like “Hey, here’s my tape loops, look at me, I’m ’experimental’!” It rings phony to me… A lot of experimental music rings that way to me. When it’s really self-conscious it’s really unappealing. Flagpole Has Dinosaur continued writing songs? Do you have more material waiting to be released? Lou Barlow No. If word came down that we were doing another record, I would start thinking about ideas that I want to bring to the band. But right now I am writing, playing guitar and recording demos. I think I’m ready to do a solo record for the beginning of next year. Flagpole Do you think we’ll see another Sebadoh record? Lou Barlow I hope so. When we did the last tour Eric [Gaffney] was hot to do all kinds of stuff. He was really excited and was trying to teach us all kinds of new songs. Jason and I have to find time to do it. Jason is touring with the Fiery Furnaces. He has also become sort of a recording engineer/ off-the-cuff producer guy and we live at opposite ends of the country. But I would really like to do it. Flagpole You made it happen with Dinosaur, which seems like a much greater challenge than a Sebadoh reunion. Lou Barlow Yeah, and I have to say that that was a really big inspiration for me. When that worked out I thought “Okay, why not?” Now it would be really fun to do Sebadoh, and especially after doing Dinosaur, Sebadoh was a real blast. It felt really free. We played quieter and talked to the audience. It was liberating all over again. Flagpole You in particular have been very active as of late. There have been the Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh reunions. The Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh reissues, the reissue of the record by your first band, Deep Wound… What prompted all of this? Lou Barlow I think it was fatherhood that was coinciding with going broke. When my wife got pregnant I realized, “Holy shit! I live in LA and I can’t support myself.” Magically everything started coalescing at that moment. I finished my solo record in pretty quick order and it worked out well for me. It came out on Merge and that did okay. I got to tour on my own and it worked out well. The Dinosaur thing came together... all of this stuff came together, but probably my wife getting pregnant was the real kick in the ass. It brought back my desire to make music. It wasn’t just for money, but the desire to put out records and tour. Not that I ever lost that, but there was a period where it was hard to get anyone excited about anything I was doing, including the people I was playing with and working for. It felt like I was pushing a rock up a hill. It was great to take back the power. Flagpole What’s next? Lou Barlow I’m going to finish the solo record and organize some Sebadoh reunions. J.’s wife just had a baby, so we’ll see how that sits with him and what he wants to do. He can do another Dinosaur record with or without me. He’s got a great studio in his house that people are coming to now, and he can just sit back and do studio work. It’s a really mellow place that’s not much like a studio at all. It’s more like a bunch of shit in somebody’s attic. Chad Radford WHO: Dinosaur Jr., Awesome Colors, Barbecue Pants WHERE: 40 Watt Club WHEN: Monday December 3 HOW MUCH: $15 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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