IT sounds like he could be dying.
Maybe he’s just struggling to wake up.
Whatever his physical state, J. Mascis, the pre-grunge hero, is in a very strange mood. The conversation is a series of questions from me and little more than grunts from him. Perhaps he hates interviews. Or talking about the past.
To remedy that, I ask him about his new album. Those rock stars love talking about their latest product. According to the press release, Free So Free is “a concept album revolving around J’s new found passion for skydiving. “In fact, many of the songs on the album were written mid-air.”
Yet he tells me: “I never tried it.”
So you made all that up?
The 36-year-old doesn’t seem like the skydiving type, anyway.
“I don’t feel like the skydiving type.”
“I had my gall bladder removed on Friday.”
Are you fit to tour?
“I’ll see how it goes.”
He’s not having the best of luck. Last year, he broke his back in a car crash soon after playing at Nottingham Boat Club. How does he feel?
“I’m not 100%.”
On a lighter note, any memories of playing Nottingham?
Remember much about the place?
“I can’t remember too much about it. Give me a clue.”
A castle that doesn’t look like a castle?
You played the Boat Club by the river next to a football ground.
Well, I’m glad we cleared that up.
This time Mascis is at The Social in Pelham Street for a solo acoustic show.
“Basically, I lost a lot of money last time playing with the band.”
He is playing with an acoustic guitar but, he points out, it won’t be at a Glen Campbell volume.
“It’s got a fuzzbox,” he says proudly.
And he still plans to treat us to past Dinosaur Jnr glories like The Wagon, Just Like Heaven and Whatever’s Cool With Me. Though, he adds: “Freak Scene I’ve never really tried acoustic.”
Dinosaur Jnr were like The Pixies, blasting out a new blueprint for US underground rock in the late eighties that influenced Kurt Cobain and co. It may grate on Mascis that he never made the big bucks to match his followers.
“Erm erm hup.”
Well, that’s what it sounded like. I think it’s a no.
Weren’t they as good as Nirvana?
“I don’t think we were as radio-friendly.”
You deserved to sell more records than you did.
“We sold more than I expected.”
Mascis (the J is for Joseph), who lives in Massachusetts with his girlfriend and a dog, split the band for good in 1997 after 14 years.
“Err, I dunno. It seemed like the thing to do at the time.”