Dinosaur Jr. influenced Nirvana and laid the foundation for the grunge movement -- and now, with the original lineup reunited after a 16-year split, the trio are returning to their seminal, punk-meets-classic rock sound with their new album, Farm, out June 23. "It's totally old school," bassist Lou Barlow tells SPIN.com. "[The album] sounds like our first three."
But Dino's full-circle didn't come easily.
By now it's rock lore: The group -- Barlow, guitarist/singer J Mascis, and drummer Murph -- formed in Amherst, MA, in 1984. In 1989, after three albums (Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me, and Bug), Barlow -- who had stopped talking to Mascis -- was told the band was breaking up. A day later Mascis and Murph reformed with a new bassist, and Barlow found out via an MTV News report.
In 2005, nearly a decade after the last Dino album (1997's Hand It Over), and 16 years since Barlow was booted out and began working full-time on his bands Sebadoh and, later, Folk Implosion, the guys reunited to release 2007's Beyond. The album is a respectable alt-rock effort with their characteristic melodic surge and eardrum-busting guitars. But there was something missing, says Barlow: the vitality they had in their younger days -- which is recaptured on Farm.
"It has an urgency," Barlow says of the upcoming record. "Right away I knew it was superior to Beyond."
How did they restore the original vibe? Barlow points to the tight deadline for the forthcoming effort: The group met in Mascis' home studio in Massachusetts in November and immediately had a February target for completion. This constraint, says Barlow, instilled a collective respect for their time together -- something they lacked when recording Beyond.
"Beyond was the first time I'd actually seen us throw stuff out [of the sessions]," Barlow says. But with the Farm sessions the band didn't dilly-dally; they recorded and refined all, and only, their 14 demos, including two covers -- "Houses," by '70s folk rocker Elise, and a Zombies song called "Whenever You're Ready."
New original songs include "Pieces," "You Are Weather," and "Imagination Blind" -- one of Barlow's two compositions for the record, which only has two chords and was written in the studio in one day.
In support of Farm, Dinosaur Jr. will hit the road this Spring on a 28-date U.S. tour. "We're playing a lot of places we've never played before," says Barlow. "We'll just play a normal, really good Dinosaur Jr. show."
Pack your earplugs, first-time concertgoers: "normal" means "really fucking loud."
2. "I Want You To Know"
3. "Ocean In The Way"
5. "Your Weather"
6. "Over It"
8. "Said The People"
9. "There's No Here"
10. "See You"
11. "I Don't Wanna Go There"
12. "Imagination Blind"