Dinosaur Jr. not extinct yet

Reunited rockers J. Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph have been working non-stop since their 2005 reunion

Dinosaur Jr., from left, Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Murph, orginally hail from Amherst, Mass. where they remain involved in the local community.
Dinosaur Jr., from left, Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Murph, orginally hail from Amherst, Mass. where they remain involved in the local community.
Credit: 
Supplied
Dinosaur Jr., pictured here in the 1980s, play The Ale House tomorrow night.
Dinosaur Jr., pictured here in the 1980s, play The Ale House tomorrow night.
Credit: 
Supplied

After touring with one of the most influential bands of the 1980s and 1990s, Dinosaur Jr., drummer ‘Murph,’ born Emmett Jefferson Murphy III, has a piece of advice for young drummers.

“Don’t do it,” he said with a laugh. “No, no. Be true to yourself and the music. Be real. Don’t worry about the type of music you should be making.” After being in the music industry since 1984 Murph still maintains a sense of humour, although there may be some hidden truth in his joking advice to young musicians. Although the band has been cited as the main inspiration for many bands, Broken Social Scene and Sonic Youth among them, it couldn’t keep the band completely in tact. After years of playing with Dinosaur Jr. for nine years Murph and co-founder member Lou Barlow both left the band leaving, J. Mascis lead singer and guitarist to go solo. After several years apart the three original members got together again.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Murph said of the reunion. “It was just a lot of interest from family, friends and fans. It wasn’t us sitting around at a table making the choice to get back together. It was a surprise. I really never thought we would ever play together in the original lineup again.”

Although there are rumours floating around on the Internet about why the band broke-up in the first place Murph has own, simplified, version of the story.

“Things had played themselves out. J needed to grow as a songwriter. I needed to grow as a drummer and Lou had already been kicked out,” he said. “It seemed like time. It just ended naturally.” The band recorded two critically-acclaimed albums since their reunion in 2005. 2007’s Beyond and 2009’s Farm are a return to their roots, pleasing their old-school fans from the 1980’s and their new Pitchfork-reading groupies.

“I was really worried when we started touring again. I was like ‘Oh, it’s going to be a bunch of old dudes,’” Murph said. “But it’s the same as when we were starting out—kids in their 20s. Kids that age pretty much still want to come out to our shows.”

Touring has been a priority for the band. Before the holidays the band finished a six-week European tour and is now embarking on a seven-week American tour with four Canadian dates. After that they head to Australia and aren’t planning on stopping until sometime in June.

“You have to tour the way the music industry is these days, with downloads and digital media,” Murph said. “I like travelling though. We’re big food people, so we like eating out in different places.”

Although the excitement of touring is still something that appeals to Dinosaur Jr., Murph is quick to point out some of its inevitable drawbacks.

“When you’re at a certain age, you body starts to take more of a beating. For people who have a family it’s hard. J had his first kids a year and a half ago.” As veterans of the punk music scene, the band has seen their fair share of changes in the music industry.

“It’s much more of a D.I.Y. market. Labels now aren’t as important. It’s not enticing,” Murph said. “Now you don’t want to get on a label because you’ll definitely get dropped. Back in the day there was much more nurturing within record companies. Now it’s a one-album deal, or even a three-song deal.” Although the industry has changed, Murph seems to be embracing the change and the longevity the band has enjoyed—regardless of what label they are currently working with.

“It’s a lot more fun now. There’s a lot more wisdom. We’ve kind of arrived.”

Dinosaur Jr. play The Ale House tomorrow night. Tickets are $25 and available at Brian’s Record Option, Destinations, The Jungle, Chumleighs and Sunrise Records. Doors open at 8 p.m.

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