Dinosaur Jr - Old but not dead!
This was just a great night for us. We got to do an interview with the one and only Dinosaur Jr and got to visit their show. That show totally rocked the place and left us with painful ear damage for days….Even better was that we got to do the interview with Murph, the drummer of Dinosaur Jr. As both of us, Jos (a good friend of mine) and I are drummers, it made it even more special for us. So forgive us for the technical drumming question at the end…
We started with a short chitchat about Jay Mascis (vocals/guitar) hating Ipods. Then Murph asked for a light. I just quit smoking (just proud to let you guys know) but still had some grass company matches with me. Murph kind of liked those so I gave them to him. That’s one way to start an interview with........
So! This is on. Correct me if I’m wrong, okay? Dinosaur Jr, with the the line-up like it is right now, broke up in 1997?
‘No actually, Lou (bass) left in 1988. We kicked Lou out and then Jay and I stayed on. I stayed with Jay and Dinosaur till ‘93, almost ’94. Then Jay kept on circling with some other members untill ’97 and then he became J Mascis and the Fog and wrote different stuff but still played some Dinosaur songs live. So that’s what happened.’
Alright then. So now, a few years later you decided to get back together as ...
‘Yeah, as the original’
Why is that? As the original line up?
‘I think it was mainly the re-issues. Jay had been planning to re-issue the first three records for a long time. For maybe four years he has been trying too, but there is so much bureaucracy and red tape about getting the masters. Regality, that finally came through...you know, around 2005, with one he required all the rights and so we got to go, re-rehearse, re-release the first three records. And the mangement, that Jay is working with, was really adament about having the three of us. And we were just, we found out that there was a lot of interest to have just the three original members play. So I think that’s what happened. We were only gonna re-issue the cds, we weren’t really gonna play. But there was so much interest, when people found that we were gonna bring the cds back, they said: well, you have to come back aswell. So. We weren’t really actually gonna do that. We really didn’t think about that.’
Why not then?
‘Uhm, cause, I think in our minds it was so final. You know, it was like a divorce. We were just so done, that we really didn’t think it was an option to get back together and play. But then, with the management and with other people around us like a lot of family were urging us to play, So I think we got kinda soft, like: Uh, ok...we’ll try.’
Well, how is it going so far?
‘It’s been really good. Great actually’
Good! So how is the tour going so far? I heard that this is your second one already?
‘No, we’ve been touring all year! This is the very last.’
From 2005 till now?
‘Yeah, we started last April and here it is now May. So it’s allmost over a year. We’ve been going non-stop. We’ve been back and forth to Europe and England, probably four, this is probably our forth time now at least in the year. So this is the very last of the tour of the year.’
How does the audience respond on Dinosaur Jr back on stage?
‘It’s been great. Yeah. It’s been really good.’
Do you experience any difference between the audiences now compared to those old days?
‘Compared to the very early days, the first two or three years, it’s very different. Because people didn’t really like us. When we first started people really didn’t like us at all. Because we were like too loud and we were sloppy. We didn’t play that well. And so people just didn’t really like us too much. It was later that people started liking us. But now it’s really good, because now we have so much history and now people had time to learn to like us. Hahaha.
Plus we’re much better. We can play now. When we first started we were really starting to learn how to play. Uhm, Jay had just switched from drums to guitar. Then I picked up the drums. And I started late. I didn’t start drumming until I was about 15 years old. So, you know, it was all coming together.’
But it all worked out pretty fine.
‘Yeah. Even better, it turned out to be great.’
So what is your goal with this whole reunite tour?
‘I think our goal is just to keep it going as long as we can. Really to keep to see how it goes. And so far it’s going okay, so...’
With that you mean Dinosaur Jr...
...or the tour and everything?
‘Everything, Dinosaur Jr, the tour. We’re actually working on a new record. I’ve actually recorded some basic tracks on drums. And in July I think we’re gonna try to get together and finallize that and try to make it happen.’
So you are really planning to make new songs and a new album?
‘Yeah, we would like to, you know, do this all over again next year with a new record and have even more songs to play. You know, we have so much material we could learn, cause now we’re on top of the first three records. Now the next set of records is being re-issued: Green Mind and Where you been are coming out, so that’s another 20 songs that we can go into and play.’
Oh, so you’re also gonna play songs from later albums?
(we’d heard that they would play only songs from the first three records of Dinosaur Jr live).
‘We’re thinking about it, yeah. Definitely Green Mind and Where you been.’
(Jos) Where you been. That would be great.
‘Where you been is like one of my favourite records, cause personally it was...it was the last record I did with Jay and it was probably drummingwise one of my best records. As far as it’s being, we were really tight as a band, the band we had then. And it was comfortable, it was pretty good. So, I’m looking forward to playing some of that live actually.
(Jos) I do have a question about ‘Start choppin’. How you did the fill when he goes like...
‘When he goes “Haaaaaaaaaaahh!” ’
Haha, yeah, exactly. Do you do only singles or?
‘Yeah, that’s single. That’s from listening to uhm....I grew up really influenced by Ian Page from Deep Purple. And so I used to practice a lot of it, really faciling. Cause if you listen to the old Deep Purple he does all that. He goes like (Murph doing fast singles with his hands) like all the time. Just like (Murph does it again) Just crazy. And, so, I got that from that. Pretty much. Yeah.’
Well , that were all the most important questions I could think about.
A bit short, but uh...
‘Hey, it’s fine. It’s good.’
Well, we’ll see you at the show tonight.
‘It should be a good show, yeah. The shows have been like...we gotten into a place now, where we’re very consistent. So, you know, even for us a bad show is still pretty good. I think it’s okay. So, and lately the shows have been actually pretty good. So, it should be fine.’
Well, there’s always a difference between a good show and a bad show, but I think…for you it could be a bad show but for the audience it can be like good enough.
‘Yeah, so strange. Like, every time I think I played a great show people are like: Ahw. And when I think I just played horrible people are like: Ahh, great! I’m like, I’m always confused, but uh, it’s strange. I think it’s just, because we’ve been playing so much lately you just get to the point where you can do it in your sleep. And it’s great because you don’t have to think about it. But, really the most important thing is like rest and food have so much to go into how you play. Like if you’re really tired, like for me physically drums are very physical. So if I’m super tired, it’s hard to play. And a lot of that is like, you know it depends on how long you had to drive the night before, 'cause a lot of these tours we’re doing, you know 700 kilometers a day, all night. You know, so it’s hard when you have to drive so much and play every day.’
I saw you did shows almost every day for like a month in a row?
‘Yeah, this past summer we did festivals. We were flying every day and lugging off this equipment to the airport, it was crazy.’
You got roadies, right?
‘Yeah, but we all have enough equipment that we all have to carry...a lot. So.’
Haha, yes, that comes together with it..
Hey, thank you very much for this interview. We wish you all the best with Dinosaur and good luck with the tour.
‘Thanks man, I talk to ya later.’
And he did talk to us later. When he tried to do some laundry and he didn’t know how to handle our Dutch washing machines. So we helped him out and walked our way out the Tivoli. On our way home we talked about the interview and more. We were still this thrilled about meeting Jos' idol(s)’. And thank you Jos for helping us out with this interview!