live’n’loud: Solo gig for Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis.................
THEY were the architects of alternative, the innovators of indie and set the stage for Nirvana and the seismic shift of rock music more than 20 years ago.
Dinosaur Jr forged the formula of undeniable hooks with walls of fuzzed-out guitar noise which made ears bleed and heads bang.
Frontman J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson ‘‘Murph’’ Murphy railed in front of that nascent live community to be forever known as the moshpit.
While most of the ’90s frontmen have explored the pitfalls and pay-offs of the solo album, to grow old gracefully with their audience, Mascis has resisted until this year when he released Several Shades of Why.
He has played unplugged before, but it was the suggestion of a trusted ally at his label Sub Pop which steered him to dive into uncharted territory. The results retain his DNA – the vocal rasp and gnarly fuzz – but with a delicate touch and melodic beauty. Mascis says he had to be patient while he waited for the songs to come.
‘‘Writing for this album with it in mind that it would be acoustic brought up certain rules. (If it) sounded too electric, I would pass them up and wait for something more appropriate to think of,’’ he says.
J Mascis and Danny Widdicombe play The Soundlounge, at Currumbin RSL, on Saturday. Doors open 7.30pm. Tickets are $36. ‘‘I tend to watch a lot of television while I’m writing. It helps when playing the guitar. I can watch television at the same time. I’m into multitasking.’’
The biography on his label’s website lists his attributes as ‘‘skier, golfer, songwriter, skateboarder, record producer and musician’’, although Mascis says he has not spent much time skiing or golfing of late.
‘‘I don’t seem to have the time it takes these days. Neither do my friends. It used to be a good time to hang out with people, but it seems nobody has the time. We will have to retire,’’ he says.
One of the Sydney Festival’s marquee acts, Mascis has had to negotiate the expectations of storytelling which people have now with solo shows.
‘‘I am too nervous to talk, but you never know. I want to just keep going. Mostly it feels weird for me to start talking,’’ he says.
‘‘The show is something to do. I am not trying to conquer anything – I amjust trying to make it to the end of the show without falling apart. And there is more good news for his devotees. The latest Dinosaur Jr reunion will extend to a new record next year.
J Mascis in solo mode at the Falls Festival, in Lorne, Victoria, on New Year’s Eve