Dinosaur Jr. has officially been around for a full 25 years. While the band has had some ups and downs and even went on an eight-year hiatus in 1997, the group is back and better than ever. On April 25th, Dinosaur Jr. will be climbing onstage at Charleston's famed Music Farm to blow minds and inspire musicians.
Preview had the rare opportunity to speak with the group's bassist, Lou Barlow, in between sets, which sound checks happening in background. Barlow's voice was deep and drawled, and I had the distinct feeling that he'd rather be thumping his bass strings than talking to the press. However, he took the time to answer my questions and prepare Charleston for the upcoming and sure-to-be unforgettable show this weekend.
Barlow describes the band's music as "hard rock/indie rock," although he admits that this is a "terrible description because it doesn't actually refer to how the music sounds." Overall, Dinosaur Jr. can fit into the grunge era of music which we all banged our heads to while wearing flannel shirts in the '90s.
Dinosaur Jr.'s bassist was inspired as an amateur musician by hardcore punk rock in the early '80s including bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag. Barlow says, "Those were the bands that made being in a band seem like something I could do and wanted to do." His true inspiration came from underground music rather than the more commercial rock or rock radio.
The band's first release album with the Jagjaguwar label is scheduled to come out this June. They began working on the record in October and completed it at a fairly quick pace. It's the follow-up to the first album that was done since Dinosaur Jr.'s reunion in 2005. Barlow simply proclaims, "It's a Dinosaur Jr. album." In the most basic terms, this record epitomizes Dinosaur Jr.'s sound.
But Dinosaur Jr. isn't what you would typically think of as a rock band. There aren't stalker groupies throwing their panties on stage, and there are no screaming teenaged wannabes following the members back to their trailer. As Barlow explains, "We're pretty low key. We just travel, play our music, and as we get older, we don't indulge in the stuff that we could when we were younger. It's impossible to do that and maintain the energy it takes to put on shows."
What can you do to become successful like Dinosaur Jr.'s Barlow? He doesn't have an easy answer for you. But he does have some advice: "As opposed to trying to find out what other people like, just do what you like. Any extreme leanings you have, go in that direction. Go in the outer limits of your tastes and try to find the thing that makes you different rather than the thing that makes you the same."
Want to see Barlow and the rest of the Dinosaur Jr. crew up close and personal? Music Farm's doors open at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are only $20 in advance and $23 at the door.