Dinosaur Jr. Frontman J. Mascis Swaps Fuzz for Beauty on Solo Record

Monday 05th, November 2018 / 15:00
By Graeme Wiggins

Photo by Cara Totman

VANCOUVER – Catching an interview subject at the right time of a press cycle can sometimes make or break the interview. If you catch them towards the middle or near the end of a cycle, they’ve likely heard the questions a million times, are sick of answering questions in general and will generally be a little trickier to get talking. This is especially true when handling someone as notoriously quiet in interviews as legendary indie guitarist J. Mascis. Famous for fronting alt rock stalwarts Dinosaur Jr., he’s about to go on tour in support of his new solo LP Elastic Days. Thankfully, it’s still early in the press cycle and he was as forthcoming as one could hope for.

It’s not so much that Mascis is unfriendly – he’s just not into talking for talking’s sake.

“I just don’t respond well to bad interviews,” says Mascis. “I just get annoyed by stupid questions. I can’t talk about nothing. A lot of people can take a stupid question and pontificate about something else and just start babbling and I don’t have that ability.”

Mascis’ solo albums tend to turn down the volume compared his work with Dinosaur Jr. His last album, Tied To A Star, was inspired by older English folk music and the like. His new album comes from a very particular place as well.

“I was kind of inspired by this Terry Reid video where he’s playing acoustic and the drummer was playing rim shots and that sounded cool, so maybe I should play rim shots and acoustic. A little bit of inspiration but whatever, just writing songs and trying to keep with an acoustic vibe.”

The acoustic bent of his solo work stems from how he performs live: “I’m thinking I’m going to go play by myself, acoustic guitar, so that’s the vibe.”

He’s released three singles for the album so far, “Web So Dense,” “See You at the Movies,” and “Everything She Said,” which definitely fit the mold of what he’s described.

“The first song is probably my favourite, and the last song I wasn’t sure about whether it was going to make it on the album but some people convinced me to put it on. And they picked that as the song to put out.”

The singles so far have demonstrated the consistency he’s displayed for his entire career. In his work, both with Dinosaur Jr. and solo, there is very little in the way of weak links. To maintain this kind of consistency is a marvel when you’ve been making music for over 30 years. He attributes this to his own singular vision:

“I haven’t tried to do weird, different things that aren’t my style. I’m just trying to make music that I like. I won’t put it out if I don’t like it. I like some stuff more than others but they are all representations of where I was at, at the time. Like a photo album.”

If the past is any indication, the current representation of where he is should be worth checking out.

J. Mascis plays the Imperial (Vancouver) on November 7.