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Tim Meadows Interviews Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis

This story originally appeared in the February 1993 issue of Spin, which was partially written and guest-edited by members of the SNL cast. Read interviews and stories from comedy icons of the era–Chris RockAdam SandlerJulia Sweeney, Lorne Michaels and others–in our package of highlighted stories from the issue. 

When we were asked to guest-edit this issue of SPIN, we were told we could interview whomever we wanted. All sorts of huge names were batted around by my colleagues: Liz Taylor, New Kids on the Block, Donna Summer. I, however, couldn’t be bothered with these so-called legends. I had one, and only one, object of desire: Dinosaur Jr.

When the Amherst, Massachusetts, trio’s album, Green Mind, came out in 1991, I can honestly say that I listened to it almost every day for a year. When I saw J Mascis and Dinosaur in concert, all he did was play and sing with his hair draped over his face, but he worked the crowd like Don Rickles in his prime. Beautiful sounds at an aggressive decibel level.

As Mascis and I sit down to talk, I begin to sweat profusely from my nose and forehead. As I mention to Mascis, I’m no journalist — I’m a comedy writer, dammit.

Tim Meadows: I understand you like watching television.

J Mascis: Yeah, I like SeinfeldSaturday Night Live

Meadows: Who is your favorite character on SNL?

Mascis: Oh, the caveman lawyer. And Pat! That scares me. It’s going too close.

Meadows: Do you know people like Pat?

Mascis: Yeah man. Where I live they’re all people like that. There was this thing on 20/20 about Northampton, Massachusetts, like Lesbianville, U.S.A.

Meadows: When you were younger, were you a big television fan or were you more into music?

Mascis: I don’t know, I was pretty normal, you know, baseball.

Meadows: Really? Little League?

Mascis: Yeah. T-Ball. I beat up little kids in the neighborhood ’cause I didn’t have a little brother to beat up. ‘Cause I used to get beat up by my big brother.

Meadows: Yeah, I know how that is. You don’t seem like the kind of person who would be a tough guy as a kid. I mean, you’re so quiet and laid-back and stuff.

Mascis: It all depends. I got teased and brutalized and had to take it out on somebody.

Meadows: I heard you did the soundtrack for and had a small part in the film Gas Food Lodging. How was that?

Mascis: It was cool. The director, we talked for a couple years. She came to one of our shows once and I kept in touch with her. She was all, “You should be the band” and “You’re so great,” and I was like, “That sounds lame — why don’t you just put me in the movie?”

Meadows: What’d you think of your performance?

Mascis: It was frightening. I couldn’t deal with watching myself.

Meadows: It had to be a trip seeing your head 12-feet tall.

Mascis: I also looked really short. It’s disturbing.

Meadows: Did you watch your performance when you were on Letterman?

Mascis: Yeah.

Meadows: Did you see his segment after that, commenting on how loud you were. Are you proud of that?

Mascis: No. I mean, anyone can be loud.

Meadows: Is it always that intense, that loud?

Mascis: Basically I was a drummer who switched to guitar, and guitars felt wimpy in comparison. I have to have it loud so you can at least feel it on the back of your legs and stuff. I really can’t hear it if it’s not cranked.

Meadows: What do you think about when you’re doing your guitar solos?

Mascis: Oh, you know, what’s for dinner and… very weird thoughts.

Meadows: As far as other guitar players go, is there anyone that influenced you?

Mascis: I was into Keith Richards and Mick Taylor from the Stones and Ron Asheton from the Stooges as Greg Sage from the Wipers. You know, I still think John Bonham was my biggest musical influence.

Meadows: Who’s that?

Mascis: The drummer from Led Zeppelin. He was the most amazing musician.

Meadows: Well, I think that’s about it. We can talk soaps if you want to.

Mascis: Well, I really like watching All My Children. I’ve been following it since I was about 12.

Meadows: Do you still watch it every day?

Mascis: No, it gets really bad. It goes through phases, from really bad to tolerable to sometimes good. But I’d really like to be on that show.

Meadows: Really?

Mascis: Any kind of cameo. I’ve set that as a goal, just to have one. I can never think of any goals to work toward. The only goal I’ve ever had I can think of was trying to get on SST Records, and we did that.

Meadows: So your next goal is soap operas?

Mascis: Just All My Children.