Dinosaur Jr. roar back from extinction

By Julia MacGregor

With the recent resurgence of reunion tours in stadiums and concert halls around the world, it’s a nice surprise when a beloved ’90s band has actually produced something worthwhile in their reunited time together. This is the case with Dinosaur Jr.

After reuniting in 2005, producing two albums — 2007’s Beyond and this year’s Farm, both feel like Dinosaur Jr. in their heyday — and touring basically non-stop, the band has put all other reunion acts to shame.

“If we didn’t feel we could pull this off we wouldn’t have done it,” says Dinosaur Jr. drummer, Murph (real name Emmett Murphy). “It was more of a matter [of] if we wanted to do it.”

Dinosaur Jr. is now on the Jagjaguwar label, which also features many artists who grew up listening to them. Being the label veterans doesn’t faze the band. The group tends to think of their musical influence on others as part of a larger picture, which critics and fans have long identified with — hence the success of their post-reunion efforts.

“We don’t think about who we are influencing or have influenced,” says Murph. “Music is like art, you produce it and put it out there and people can look at it, and decide if they like it.”

When the group called it quits in the mid-’90s after tensions between guitarist J Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow ran too high. Murph was often forced to mediate between them. Now, on stage Lou and Murph’s rhythm section acts as the foundation to J’s flair, creating one tasty dinosaur flavoured combination.

“Our band is like a cake,” says Murph. “Lou and I are the base and J is the sprinkles.”

Even Rock Band has shown their Dinosaur Jr. appreciation by releasing “Pick Me Up,” “The Wagon” and “Feel The Pain” as tracks on the game. Murph hasn’t played the drums or felt the pain of the expert level yet, but J’s nephew can out-shred his uncle any day.

With the original 1988 lineup of Macsis, Barlow and Murph back to assail audiences with aggressive, brooding and melancholic sounds, it’s hard not to love this band which has come such a long way.

“I feel like a cat with eight lives and this is my fourth life,” says Murph. “When I see footage from 1988, I think, ‘who are those guys?’ “

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