If you don’t believe me, just pick up any of the first three Dinosaur Jr., CDs, which have recently been remastered and re-released; or pick up my personal favorite Green Mind. If acoustic music is your cup o’ tea then try J’s solo effort, Martin and Me. Then fast forward to his latest project, J Mascis And The Fog, which includes the albums More Light and Free So Free. These CDs herald a triumphant return to the loud-ass guitars and creaky vocals that made early Dinosaur Jr. so . . . so . . . genius.
Now, if after you have done your homework you are still not convinced of J’s guitar divinity then . . . you suck, so shut up . . . dummy.
I recently had the opportunity to interview J. He sounded about as baked as a Deadhead on Haight St. . . . make that burnt as a Deadhead on Xmas. Or how about as fried as an onion ring dipped in mustard? In any case not all that thrilled to speak with me. But hey — he’s a rock star and I work for the man, so I didn’t take it personal or nothin’.
J Mascis: (underwater creaky frog voice) Hello?
EQ: Hello. This is Jason calling from EQ magazine. May I speak to J please?
JM: (Really quiet) Yeah.
EQ: Is this J?
JM: (Even quieter) Yeah.
EQ: Hey! This is Jason from EQ magazine.
JM: (Waking up a little) Hey, how’s it going?
EQ: Great, thank you, and yourself?
JM: Well, not too bad . . . (Followed by silence)
EQ: Um, okay listen, I know that often you record much of the instrumentation on your recordings, so I was wondering if you play to a click track?
JM: (Barely above a whisper) No.
EQ: Ummm . . . okay, well then . . . When you start layering your tracks what do you record first?
JM: Drums, usually drums.
EQ: So how do you know that you’re in the right time for the other instruments you’ll be adding?
JM: Umm . . . (Laughs). Mental time code. I just kinda sing along and play the drums.
EQ: Wow. You’re that good? That’s just plain scary dude. Some of the drumming is way over the top, double kick drum and all!
EQ: What is your favorite platform to record on?
JM: (More Silence.)
EQ: Do you use Pro Tools?
JM: Yeah. I prefer tape, but I got Pro Tools right now. I’m trying to figure it out a little bit.
EQ: [Pro Tools is] a whole other world than tape. The one thing I’ve always loved is the way you layer and blend your guitars. Are you trying any Pro Tools plug ins? Or do you still rely fully on amp and guitar to get your tones?
JM: (Laughs) I usually use like a Vox and a Tweed Bassman or a Tweed Deluxe, that’s kinda most of the sounds. And then some pedals and stuff.
EQ: What kind of stomp boxes do you prefer?
JM: Ah whatever, ya know, whatever. For every album I try and get some different ones.
EQ: What about live?
JM: Older Big Muff.
EQ: Okay, this is the 25 billion dollar question: You’ve recorded a great deal of acoustic guitars over the years. How do you get a good natural sound when recording acoustics?
JM: The easy answer is the Ribbon Mic*. I discovered that at some point. I was like, every acoustic sound I have ever heard sounded like Heart or something. I was going through some pile of mics at some studio and one of them sounded different, and it turned out that it was a Ribbon Mic and that kinda opened my eyes to recording acoustic. It makes them sound a lot more normal. Also, when you’re recording, um . . . just kinda point it down at the sound hole.