* Blanco y Negro /Sire
* Fat Possum
* PIAS Recordings
* Au Go Go
J Mascis and the Fog
* Heavy Blanket
* Mike Johnson
* George Berz
DINOSAUR JR. is an American rock band formed in Amherst,
Massachusetts , in 1984, originally simply called DINOSAUR until legal
issues forced a change in name.
The band was founded by
J Mascis (guitar, vocals, primary
Lou Barlow (bass, vocals), and Murph (drums). After three
albums on independent labels earned the band a reputation as one of
the formative influences on American alternative rock , creative
tension led to Mascis firing Barlow, who later formed
Sebadoh and Folk
Implosion . His replacement, Mike Johnson came aboard for three
major-label albums. Murph eventually quit, with Mascis taking over
drum duties on the band's albums before the group disbanded in 1997.
The original lineup reformed in 2005, releasing four albums
Mascis's drawling vocals and distinct guitar sound, hearkening back
to 1960s and '70s classic rock and characterized by extensive use of
feedback and distortion , were highly influential in the alternative
rock movement of the 1990s.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Formation
* 1.2 Dinosaur
* 1.3 You\'re Living All Over Me
* 1.4 Bug and Barlow\'s departure
* 1.5 Major label years
* 1.6 2005 reunion and onward
* 2 Musical style and influences
* 3 Band members
* 3.1 Timeline
* 4 Discography
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Mascis and Barlow played together, on drums and guitar respectively,
in the hardcore punk band
Deep Wound , formed in 1982 while the pair
were attending high school in western
Massachusetts . After high
school, they began exploring slower yet still aggressive music such as
Black Sabbath , the Replacements , and
Neil Young . Mascis' college
Gerard Cosloy introduced him to psychedelic-influenced pop
Dream Syndicate , which Mascis in turn showed to Barlow.
Barlow explained, "We loved speed metal ...and we loved wimpy-jangly
Deep Wound broke up in mid-1984. Cosloy had dropped out of the
Massachusetts Amherst to focus on running his
independent record label,
Homestead Records , and promised Mascis that
if he were to make a record Homestead would release it. Mascis wrote a
number of songs by himself and showed them to Barlow, to whom he
offered the bassist position. Barlow said the songs "were fucking
brilliant...They were so far beyond. I was still into two-chord songs
and basic stuff like 'I'm so sad.' While I was really into my own
little tragedy, J was operating in this whole other panorama." Mascis
enlisted vocalist Charlie Nakajima, also formerly of Deep Wound, and
drummer Emmett Patrick Murphy, otherwise known as Murph, to complete
the band. Mascis explained the concept behind the group as
The band was initially named Mogo, and played their first show on
Massachusetts Amherst campus in the first week of
September 1984. However, Nakajima used the performance to launch an
extended anti-police tirade. Mascis was so appalled by Nakajima's
behavior at the show that he disbanded the group the next day. A few
days later Mascis invited Barlow and Murph to form a new band without
telling Nakajima. "I was kind of too wimpy to kick him out, exactly,"
Mascis later admitted. "Communicating with people has been a constant
problem in the band." The trio named themselves Dinosaur, and Mascis
and Barlow took over lead-vocal duties.
Mascis took Cosloy up on his offer to release an album and Dinosaur
recorded their debut album for $500 at a home studio in the woods
Massachusetts . Their debut album, Dinosaur ,
was released in 1985. The music was extremely eclectic and revealed a
combination of musical styles that was very unusual, especially for
the mid-1980s: the speed of hardcore punk, Crazy Horse -style garage
rock, slower and monolithic
Black Sabbath -style metal riffs, folk
rock, twangy country-rock and the dour moods of gothic music. On the
band's later albums, these elements would often be combined into
single songs, but on the debut album, each individual song is
different stylistically. All of this was delivered with the extreme
level of volume and distortion that would become part of the band's
signature style. Mascis wrote all of the songs. Some of the singing
was done by Mascis in his trademark nasal drawl (often compared to
singer Neil Young), but the majority of the lead vocals were by Lou
Barlow. Mascis would sing most or all of the lead vocals on all of
their subsequent releases. The album did not make much of an impact
commercially or critically: it sold only about 1,500 copies in its
first year and was largely ignored by the majority of the music press.
After the record's release, Dinosaur would often drive to New York
City to perform shows. At one of their shows, the New York-based
alternative rock band
Sonic Youth was at first unimpressed by the
first Dinosaur performance they saw, but after watching them play
several months later, approached the band declaring themselves as
Sonic Youth invited Dinosaur to join them on tour in the
American Northeast and northern Midwest in September 1986.
YOU\'RE LIVING ALL OVER ME
Dinosaur recorded much of their second album You\'re Living All Over
Sonic Youth engineer
Wharton Tiers in New York. During the
recording process, tension emerged between Mascis and Murph because
Mascis had very specific ideas for the drum parts. Barlow recalled, "J
controlled Murph's every drumbeat...And Murph could not handle that.
Murph wanted to kill J for the longest time."
Gerard Cosloy was
excited by the completed album, but was devastated when Mascis told
him the band was going to release it on California-based
SST Records .
Mascis was reluctant to sign a two-album deal with Homestead, but
Cosloy felt betrayed, "There was no way I couldn't take it
personally." After the album's completion Mascis moved to New York,
leaving the rest of the band feeling alienated.
You're Living All Over Me was released in 1987; early copies of the
record in the Boston area were packaged with the Weed Forestin' tape,
the first release by Barlow's side project
Sebadoh . The album
received much more attention in the indie-rock community than the
debut. While the previous record had featured different musical styles
for each song,
You're Living All Over Me found the band's various
disparate influences merging into each individual song. Although the
hardcore punk influences were noticeably more muted than on Dinosaur,
the overall sound was much more powerful, with the instruments often
recorded very loud and with considerable distortion. While Mascis's
guitar, alternating between Black Sabbath-like riffs, squalling solos,
dissonant noise-rock and occasional quiet passages, was the main
attraction, Barlow's bass, melodic, highly distorted and often playing
thick two-note chords, competed for attention. Meanwhile, Murph played
the Mascis-composed drum parts in a very heavy and powerful fashion,
resulting in a version of the power trio format. Mascis did most of
the lead singing, in a detached drawl that presented a contrast with
the extreme music. The songs were highly melodic, albeit with odd song
structures that avoided the typical verse-chorus-verse patterns of
most rock and pop songs. Barlow also composed two songs: the
hardcore-influenced "Lose" and an acoustic sonic collage entitled
"Poledo" that anticipated his work with
Immediately following the release of You're Living All Over Me,
The Dinosaurs (featuring ex-members of Country Joe and the
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Quicksilver Messenger Service ,
Hot Tuna ,
Grateful Dead and
Jefferson Airplane ) sued them over the use of the name, prompting the
addition of "Jr."
BUG AND BARLOW\'S DEPARTURE
Dinosaur Jr. had a major breakthrough in the United Kingdom with
their debut single for
Blast First , "
Freak Scene " in 1988, a
version with censored lyrics being issued for radio consumption. It
reached number 4 in the UK independent chart, staying on the chart for
12 weeks. The band's third album Bug followed shortly afterwards,
reaching number 1 on the UK independent chart and spending 38 weeks in
the chart. The band's first
UK singles chart placing came in 1989
with their cover of
The Cure 's "Just Like Heaven ".
Bug was similar in musical style to You're Living All Over Me, with
the contrast between the extremely distorted instruments and the
melodic vocal parts intact, as was the band's unique blend of musical
influences. However, this time out, there was even more melody and the
song structures were more conventional. Mascis was exhibiting an even
tighter control over the band's sound, singing lead vocals on all but
one song and composing the parts for Murph and Lou to play. Barlow's
only lead vocal was on the album's final track, featuring an
overdriven, noise-rock backing track and Barlow screaming "Why don't
you like me?"
Mascis has described Bug as his least favorite of the band's albums.
In an interview in 2005, after the original line-up had reformed, he
said, "Bug is my least favourite of all our records. I like some of
the songs but, I dunno, I guess I really don't like the vibe of it."
Despite the album's success, tension between Mascis and Barlow began
interfering with the band's productivity, and in 1989, after touring
in support of Bug, Barlow was kicked out of the band. Barlow now
focused all of his attention on the former side-project
Sebadoh . "The
Freed Pig", the opening track on 1991's
Sebadoh III , documents
Barlow's frustration with Mascis and feeling as if he were treated
Meanwhile, the band embarked on an Australian tour with Donna Dresch
filling in for Barlow. In 1990, the band released a new single, "The
Wagon " on
Sub Pop , their first release since Barlow's departure. The
single featured a short-lived lineup including guitarist Don Fleming
and drummer Jay Spiegel from the band Gumball, in addition to Mascis
MAJOR LABEL YEARS
Despite the ongoing lineup turmoil,
Dinosaur Jr. signed with Sire
Records in 1990. They made their major-label debut
Green Mind in 1991.
The new record was virtually a
J Mascis solo album, with Murph playing
drums on only a few songs, as well as minimal contributions from
Fleming and Spiegel, who were out of the band by the time the album
was released. Mascis, whose first instrument was a drum kit, recorded
many of the drum parts by himself, layering the various instrumental
parts through overdubbing. While Mascis' guitar, voice and songwriting
ensured that the album had its share of the band's old sound, it was
much quieter and more layered, with more use of keyboards and acoustic
guitar, and with a noticeable lack of the power-trio roar for which
the original lineup had been known.
For touring purposes, Mascis first added
Van Conner , and then Mike
Johnson to handle the bass parts and embarked on several tours to
support Green Mind, with support acts that included Nirvana . In 1991,
Sire records released an EP titled Whatever\'s Cool with Me that
featured old B-sides coupled with one new track. In 1992, the band was
part of the
Rollercoaster Tour , a package tour based on the
Lollapolooza festival, which featured The Jesus and Mary
Chain , My Bloody Valentine and Blur .
The band found their live shows well received in the changing musical
climate of the early 1990s, and decided to record new material with
the new lineup. This time, the recording sessions were with full
participation from Murph and Johnson, with the former playing most of
the drums and the latter playing all of the bass parts, singing
harmony vocals and even contributing a few guitar solos. This material
represented the peak of the band's commercial success, with the single
"Start Choppin'" reaching the top 20 in the UK, and the album that
Where You Been
Where You Been , reaching the UK top 10 and the US top 50.
The opening track, "Out There", had an accompanying video and was
aired on MTV for a short time, as the show
120 Minutes was still
popular as a late-night "alternative" video show. Although the new
material was more accessible than the band's 1980s albums, in terms of
playing it represented a partial return to the more unrestrained
power-trio sound of the original lineup.
Murph left the band after touring for
Where You Been
Where You Been and was replaced
for the band's live shows by George Berz, leaving Mascis as the sole
remaining original member. However, the band's subsequent albums would
be recorded mostly by
J Mascis on his own, playing everything except
for the bass and some of the harmony vocals, which continued to be
handled by Mike Johnson. The commercial success continued with 1994's
Without a Sound , which placed well in both the US and UK album
charts. After 1997's
Hand It Over , Mascis finally retired the
Dinosaur Jr. name, with the group's final live performance being an
appearance on the American talk show
The Jenny Jones Show . In 1999,
Mascis released the first of two solo albums under the name
J Mascis +
The Fog .
2005 REUNION AND ONWARD
The beginnings of a Mascis–Barlow détente started in the mid-'90s
when Mascis began showing up at
Sebadoh shows. "I think he was kind of
aware of how much shit I was talking about him, but I don't think he
really ever pursued any of it. One of the things that really triggered
this, for me to finally just go, 'Hey, you know, maybe this could
work,' is when I realized that maybe J wasn't really holding any kind
of grudge against me because he didn't like me. I was thinking, maybe
he just didn't realize what he had done, or maybe he wasn't really
aware of how much he'd actually hurt me. And when I started to realize
that, he kind of became more human to me," Barlow noted in a 2005
In 2002, the two shared the stage for two shows in London, with
Barlow singing I Wanna Be Your Dog along with Mascis,
Ron Asheton ,
Scott Asheton and
Mike Watt , who had been performing Stooges songs as
"Asheton, Asheton, Mascis and Watt".
Mascis regained the master rights to the band's first three albums
from SST in 2004, and arranged for their reissue on Merge early 2005.
Later that year, he and Barlow shared the stage at benefit show for
Smith College organized by Barlow's mother in Northampton,
Massachusetts , and played together as
Deep Wound after Mascis and
Sebadoh had completed their respective sets.
Dinosaur Jr. on
stage at the Manchester Ritz during the
I Bet on Sky tour, 1 February
Following the reissues in 2005, Mascis, Barlow and Murph finally
reunited to play on
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on April
15, 2005, and in June that year, they kicked off a tour of Europe.
While performing in New York City in 2006, much of the band's
equipment was stolen while stored outside their hotel and has not yet
been recovered. The band members were later among the curators of
2006's All Tomorrow\'s Parties festival.
In 2007, the original members of
Dinosaur Jr. released Beyond on Fat
Possum Records , their first album of new material as a trio since Bug
in 1988. It was met with critical acclaim, rating an 8.4 from
Pitchfork Media and garnering positive reviews from the music press
as a whole. It was considered somewhat of a sonic paradox in that even
though it featured the original members who produced "two records so
drenched in noise they still sound like aural assaults decades after
their original release," sonically it resembled the major label
releases of the 1990s in both production values and stylistic range.
On the other hand, while the sound was not as extreme as the original
lineup's 1980s albums, it did feature a much bigger, more
unrestrained, and more live-sounding feel than their 1990s albums,
though Barlow's bass was noticeably quieter than in the old days.
Barlow did make his mark on the music in other ways: for the first
time since You're Living All Over Me, he contributed to the
songwriting. The album went on to good commercial success, debuting on
the Billboard 200 at number 69 its opening week.
In February 2009, the band signed with indie label
Jagjaguwar . The
band's first release on the new label was titled Farm and released on
June 23, 2009. Murph said the album was recorded at Mascis' home and
marks return to the heavier,
Where You Been
Where You Been LP era. The album was
released to positive reviews. To promote the album, the band played
Farm's lead-off track, "Pieces", on
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on
June 25, 2009.
Dinosaur Jr. released their second album for Jagjaguwar, I Bet on Sky
, in September 2012, to favourable reviews.
In December 2015, Murph confirmed the band had entered the studio to
begin working on their follow up to
I Bet on Sky . The album Give a
Glimpse of What Yer Not was released on August 5, 2016 on Jagjaguwar.
MUSICAL STYLE AND INFLUENCES
"Freak Scene" Sample of "
Freak Scene " from the band's third
album Bug (1988), a song that features Mascis' distinctive "slacker"
vocal drawl and a layered guitar sound.
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Dinosaur Jr. is considered to be an alternative rock band; however
the band's musical style, compared to its underground contemporaries
in the 1980s, differed in several ways. This included the influence of
classic rock on the band's music, their use of feedback, extreme
volume and the loud-quiet dynamic, and frontman Mascis' droning
vocals. Gerald Cosloy, head of Homestead Records, summarised the
band's music: "It was its own bizarre hybrid. ... It wasn't exactly
pop, it wasn't exactly punk rock—it was completely its own thing".
Mascis listened to classic rock artists such as the Rolling Stones
and the Beach Boys , elements of which were incorporated into Dinosaur
Jr.'s sound. In addition, Mascis was also a fan of many punk and
hardcore bands such as The Birthday Party , and has frequently noted
Nick Cave as an influence. Dinosaur Jr.'s members also combined
elements of hardcore punk and noise rock in their songs, which often
featured a large amount of feedback, distortion and extreme volume.
When the master tape of You\'re Living All Over Me arrived at SST, the
label's production manager noticed the level on the tape was so high
it was distorting; however, Mascis confirmed it was the way he wanted
the album to sound. To accentuate their use of volume, the band
employed and popularised the quiet–loud change of dynamic in many of
its songs, a technique that would be later popularised by
Nirvana and alternative rock in general during the 1990s.
Similar to Mascis's guitar work, Barlow's bass lines, with their
alternating heavily distorted, fast chords and pulverizing lows, draw
heavily from both his hardcore past and musicians such as
Johnny Ramone . "
Johnny Ramone is my hero. I wanted to
make that rhythmic chugging sound like he got playing guitar with the
Ramones. And, I found that I got a bigger sound by strumming farther
up the neck."
Mascis's vocals are another distinctive feature of Dinosaur Jr.'s
music. He attributed his "whiny low-key drawl", the opposite of the
hardcore punk "bark", to artists such as
John Fogerty and Mick Jagger
. His style also resembled Neil Young's, but Mascis disputed this,
and later commented: "That got annoying, being compared all the time."
His drawl epitomised the band's slacker ethos and relaxed attitude;
Michael Azerrad said "even Mascis seemed removed from the
feelings he was conveying in the music".
J Mascis – lead/rhythm guitar, lead vocals, keyboards
(1984–1997, 2005–present); studio drums (1991, 1994–1997)
Lou Barlow – bass, backing and lead vocals (1984–1989,
* Murph – drums (1984–1993, 2005–present)
* Mike Johnson – bass, backing vocals (1991–1997)
* George Berz – live drums (1993–1997)
Dinosaur Jr. discography
* Dinosaur (1985)
* You\'re Living All Over Me (1987)
* Bug (1988)
Green Mind (1991)
Where You Been
Where You Been (1993)
Without a Sound (1994)
Hand It Over (1997)
* Beyond (2007)
* Farm (2009)
I Bet on Sky (2012)
Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (2016)
* Azerrad, Michael (2001). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from
the American Indie Underground, 1981–1991 . Little Brown and
Company. ISBN 0-316-78753-1 .
* ^ "
Dinosaur Jr. Bleeds Ears On Best-Of". Billboard . September 5,
2001. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
* ^ Mundy, Chris (April 18, 1991). "