J Mascis

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY Cam LindsayPublished Apr 23, 2007

What are you up to?
Just getting ready to tour with Dinosaur, doing interviews.

What are your current fixations?
Right now I’m watching Dawson’s Creek; I’m on the fifth season. I liked the first season a lot, but the second one was horrible, and then I just kept watching it. This fifth one is really good. I think it definitely goes up and down.

Why do you live where you do?
I live in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I guess I was born here and just live here. I’ve traveled so much in my live that I never feel the need to go anywhere. I mean, I lived in New York for a long time, but I still always come back to Amherst. I can’t recommend it though. A lot of people have moved here, which seems strange, but I’m happy about it. I wouldn’t want to stick my neck out and recommend it though.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
The movie Crumb. I guess to see people who are so smart and so fucked up makes me feel better about myself. I take some comfort in these people that are smarter and more fucked up than I am.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
This Bad Brains concert I saw in Boston around 1981. They got there late, so they only played for 20 minutes and just did their hardcore songs. I didn’t really care about their reggae songs, so it was great for me.

What have been your career highs and lows?
I guess both were Tony Bennett Unplugged. The high was doing it and playing with him and then the low point was that they decided to edit down the show because the MTV audience couldn’t handle that long of Tony Bennett, so I got edited out.

What’s the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
"I really liked (a certain song), it’s a shame you had to ruin it with your voice.” It was a journalist in Holland. I think it was "Not the Same” from Where You Been. I was shocked more than anything, I guess. He just said it out of the blue.

What should everyone shut up about?
Global warming. Even if it is a concern it seems a bit too late.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I guess I dislike the way I talk, it’s too slow for people and I feel misunderstood. Certain people, if they’re really hyper, they think I’m being a dick because of the way I talk. If I take too much time to answer a question, they’ve already written me off before I get a chance to say anything. I dislike that I come across that way. I like that I haven’t committed suicide yet.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Don’t play Lollapalooza.

What would make you kick someone out of your band, and have you?
I have and the reason was because I thought they didn’t want to be there and they didn’t want to quit either.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Smiling Canadians. I know a lot of Canadians right now. Like the bass player in my other band Witch, and this guy that lives at Kim and Thurston’s house right now. Day to day, they seem to be smiling a lot.

What is your vital daily ritual?
Besides waking up? It’s harder to have rituals when you’re on tour than when you’re at home. Meditation, I guess.

What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
Don’t care. I’m kinda bummed now that all of those videos are being taken off YouTube.

What was your most memorable day job?
Gas station attendant. It’s the one I had the longest. There were some funny greaser guys who would try to piss me off. They’d order 30 cents of gas and think I’d care. I’d lock myself in the office and wouldn’t come out — that would drive them crazy.

How do you spoil yourself?
Guitar pedals.

If I wasn’t playing music I would be:
Maybe I’d be a therapist. I think I’m good at staring at people until they talk about themselves.

What do you fear most?
People fucking up the world, I guess. Mostly by selfishness.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Chris Farley. It was strange because he seemed like he was in a movie and there were no cameras around. It’s like, "Take it easy! Nothing’s going on right now.” It was just odd. It was at a wedding too.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Nick Cave and maybe I would serve gnocchi.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Golf, maybe. She was an avid golfer. I used her putter in the video for "Feel the Pain.”

They may not have built a legacy like Nirvana, or inspired every underground act like Sonic Youth, but Dinosaur Jr. were a vital part of the alternative rock revolution of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Much like peers the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. have enjoyed a welcome return as of late, reviving the band’s original line-up as well as reissuing their first three albums in 2005. This month welcomes Beyond, the first new album from J Mascis, Murph and Lou Barlow in 19 years, as well as a full Canadian tour throughout June. According to Mascis, Dino Jr’s longest standing member, the reunion wasn’t even his idea. "I guess people have always thought about it, but it was up to me to give it a try. People were always asking about it, even Lou [who was sacked in 1989] had mentioned it before,” he says. The new album feels like the good old days again, and recording it even inspired some of them to appreciate what they have. "It was kinda the same. I think Murph is little more into it now. After all these years he finally realised that we’re a pretty good band. But it’s still hard to get Lou to write songs.” Perhaps the most significant mark of their return is Nike’s request for Mascis to design a skateboarding shoe. "It’s pretty weird. I never thought I’d design a shoe for Nike. I wear them, they’re pretty cool. I think they are a success, for my first shoe designing outing. They look good on most people.”

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