When alt-rock pioneer Dinosaur Jr. reunited with its original lineup in 2005, principals Lou Barlow and J Mascis were asked about recording new material. Both brushed aside the idea.
Barlow, who has had post-Dinosaur Jr. success with Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion, went so far as to tell the Village Voice that the idea of Dinosaur Jr. recording new material was "ridiculous." Mascis concurred, joking that Aerosmith should have stopped recording 20 years ago.
Yet on May 1, Dinosaur Jr. will release "Beyond" via indie Fat Possum Records. The album is the band's first collection of new material with the original lineup of guitarist Mascis, bassist Barlow and drummer Emmett "Patrick" Murphy since 1988's "Bug." It marks a turning point for Fat Possum as well.
As to what inspired a change of heart, Barlow points to Brian Schwartz of Bleemusic, who co-manages Dinosaur Jr. with Barton Dahl of Madison House. Schwartz, Barlow says, is a quasi-member of the band these days.
"At first, he was like, 'Come on, guys, you've got to do a new album," Barlow says. "We told him to shut up. But he was so comically insistent about it that it had a way of taking the tension away from what would be a monumental decision for us. We realized it's not that monumental at all. It's kind of a lark."
Mascis plays down the influence of the management team. "I'm not listening to them so much," Mascis says. "It goes in one ear and out the other."
Instead, he says the band ultimately decided that if it were to keep touring, it would be wise to have some new songs.
Dinosaur Jr. recorded three albums in the late '80s with the original lineup, bringing a classic rock sensibility (read: extended guitar solos) to a masterfully loud hardcore sound. The band's loud/soft dynamic would foreshadow the grunge and alt-rock era of the '90s, during which Mascis led a Barlow-less Dinosaur Jr. through myriad lineup changes.
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