Dinosaur Jr has a quieter side

Dinosaur Jr
Dinosaur Jr

BRING your ear plugs.

That’s the advice from Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis to anyone planning on catching the band at the Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, next Wednesday night.

The legendary pioneers of the American grunge phenomenon have a reputation for blasting their audiences with their extensive use of high gain, louder-than-loud guitar distortion and rippling feedback.

It’s a reputation that was built up over many years (the band was founded in 1984) with Dinosaur Jr’s distinctive sound widely acknowledged as one of the primary influences of the alternative rock movement of the early 90s.

Songs like Freak Scene, In a Jar and Hide had a major impact on the songwriting of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain.

But as the band exploded on to independent rock charts around the world, leading them to sign with major label Sire Records in 1990, tensions increased, leaving Mascis as the sole remaining original member by 1993.

Mascis retired the Dinosaur Jr name in 1997 and began working independently.

When rumblings of a reunion began making their way around internet chat rooms in 2005 that would see the original line-up back together, many doubted it could last.

But by May 2007, the band had released Beyond, their first album of new material as a trio since their 1988 breakout record Bug. Late last year Dinosaur Jr released Farm, their most critically lauded effort since Bug, which captures all the energy of the band in its heyday.

But like any reunion, old wounds can be easily opened.

“It’s up and down,” Mascis says when asked how things are working out between him, Lou Barlow and ‘Murph’.

“Its like a family. We don’t get along great all the time but we do get on most of the time. I think we work better than we did the first time around. We work better together, there is more group input.”

The secret of sticking together might lie in the fact the three members are devotees of Indian spiritual leader Amma, also known as the ‘Hugging Saint’, somewhat ironic for a band regarded as one of the loudest in the world.

Mascis is a long-time devotee of Amma’s, first meeting her in the mid 90s while Barlow and ‘Murph’ were introduced later.

“In 1995 someone told me to go along and check Amma out,” Mascis reflects.

“The more I went along, the more I got into it. Being with Amma has had a massive impact on me – on every area of my life – from the music I write to my relationships, everything.

“Murph and Lou have been along to see Amma as well so I guess that helps us work things out when it gets difficult.”

Though they might have softened toward each other with time, their music has lost none of its convulsive power, distinguished by Mascis’ Neil Young-like grinding vocals, driven by his monolithic loud riffs.

And what can punters expect to hear when they roll up to the Great Northern Hotel next Wednesday?

“It’s hard for me to tell people what to expect,” Mascis says.

“It will be pretty loud. Bring your ear plugs.”

Dinosaur Jr will blast The Backroom of the Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, on Wednesday, March 10. Tickets are $40 + bf from, Oztix outlets or call 1300 762 545.

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