After dinner, Barlow checks in on Hendrix's bath. "How you interact with your kids is really fascinating," he says, peeking in on Kathleen and his son. "My parents infused me with a lot of acceptance for the chaos of life, you know? There was an understanding that things happened. Life is not about whether or not you feel comfortable in every moment. It's about stretching and working with people. They prepared me for that."
In 2002, Barlow apologized to Mascis for the drunken outburst after the Sebadoh show. Together, the two shared vocals during a live performance in London of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog," alongside Watt and original members Ron and Scott Asheton. Four years earlier, Mascis had been dropped from his label and retired the Dinosaur name altogether, opting to release a few solo albums under the name J Mascis and the Fog in the interim. But when Mascis began considering how best to reissue the band's early catalog on CD in 2004, the demand for a reunion began to mount.
Barlow remembers the moment he brought Murphy into his L.A. practice space to play together for the first time in what had been 16 years. The first song they decided to play was “In a Jar,” from You’re Living All Over Me. "It's totally ingrained," Barlow says of his rhythmic connection with Murph, as Hendrix files out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. "It's ingrained on a level that neither he nor I could eliminate. No matter how many drugs we did in the meantime, no matter what happened to us. This is not an intellectual pursuit. We're not deciding to do this on any level other than something completely intuitive, like riding a bike."
Barlow speaks in explosions, punctuating his sentences with loud fits of laughter. You can see why a quiet type might find the earnestness and verbiage easy to resent. "You know, after Dino, I said, 'If I'm ever in a band again, it will never be like this,'" he says, stretching in the hallway. "In the real world, you need to speak with people and you need to support it all together. You can't make good music unless you communicate. But obviously, Dinosaur Jr. disproves that altogether, which is an amazing reason to be a part of it. I don't understand it." He shrugs.
"But that's the thing about J: he'll fucking show up,” Barlow says, continuing. “And that's the reason why [we're together]. He's not like me, saying, 'I'm not going to any goddamned Dinosaur Jr. show.' He'll go to a Sebadoh show. He's still open-minded. I think the thing that brought me back to J was the idea that it's all fucked up. People are fucked up." He shakes his head. "If you have musical chemistry, it's over. That's it. If you can arrive on a common goal and focus on a song, that's a miracle."
The next day, that chemistry is on display at a video shoot in Hollywood for I Bet on Sky single "Watch the Corners," with the three band members arranged at once and individually in front of a green screen over the course of three hours. There's a little small talk here and there, but they never make as much sense in the same room together as they do when they're in motion, when they play along with the track roaring back at them. The song itself is elephantine, a modern update on the white-knuckle melodicism that drove their early recordings. Barlow is barefoot, gesticulating with his bass until the strap comes loose. Murph is smiling. And then there's Mascis, body inert, who looks as though he can't feel anything but his fingers and face.