Dinosaur Jr. matures since their regrouping

Dinosaur Jr. matures since their regrouping
Dinosaur Jr. brings their trademark sound to the Belly Up Sept. 6. From left to right, Lou Barlow, J. Mascis and Patrick “Murph” Murphy Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

SOLANA BEACH — When acclaimed bands reunite after a long time apart, it’s often only for a short tour or one album.Tell that to the members of Dinosaur Jr. Since reforming in 2005, the band is more productive than ever.

On Sept. 6, Dinosaur Jr. will fill the Belly Up with guitars drenched in feedback and distortion. If that’s not enough, Dinosaur Jr. recently released “I Bet On Sky,” the band’s 10th studio album.

“If there was any semblance of the early days, we couldn’t have done this,” said Dinosaur Jr.’s drummer Patrick Murphy, who is better known as “Murph.”

Dinosaur Jr. came out with its first album in 1985. The band never found much mainstream success, but always maintained something of a cult following. Dinosaur Jr.’s late 1980s albums, including “You’re Living All Over Me” and “Bug,” are widely viewed by critics as watershed alternative rock albums, paving the way for bands like Nirvana. But after releasing seminal records, tension and infighting gripped the band. As a result, Dinosaur Jr. continued with only one of its original members for much of the 1990s. In 1997, the group officially disbanded.

To the surprise of many, Dinosaur Jr. put aside differences and got back together eight years later — no small feat considering the group’s well-publicized tiffs, which involved bassist Lou Barlow writing angry songs directed at frontman J. Mascis.

How did the band learn to get along with so much water under the bridge?

“I think it’s just age and the guys having kids,” Murph said. “I noticed when you have kids, it really forces you to be patient and mellow out.”

Dinosaur Jr.’s 2007 album “Beyond” and 2009 album “Farm” were warmly received by critics and fans. Murph said he doesn’t know where the newest record might rank in the band’s legacy, but described it as “somewhat poppier” and “more heartfelt.”

“More time was spent on the vocals and harmonies,” Murph said. “Lyrics can sometimes be a second thought, but there was an effort to make them a major component of the album.”

Compared to other music projects he’s involved with, Murph said there’s less room for improvisation when drumming on Dinosaur Jr. records. That’s not better or worse, just different, he said.

“We have kind of a bizarre dynamic,” Murph said. “J. (Mascis) will present ideas and me and Lou will interpret his vision as we see fit. It’s what works for us.”

While the new album is “somewhat poppier,” fans of the band can still expect melodic guitar riffs coated in layers of distortion. After all, Dinosaur Jr. has damaged some clubs’ P.A. systems with the sheer amount of noise from its live shows.

“This is the third time, I believe, we’ve played the Belly Up,” Murph said. “Their equipment has always been able to handle the noise, something that can be a challenge with playing clubs.”

At the Belly Up show, Murph noted concerts goers could expect roughly two or three songs from each Dinosaur Jr. album.

“We’re getting to the point where we have a lot of material to choose from,” Murph said.

Electric Flower Group is opening the show. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Tickets are still available for the concert at bellyup.com.


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