Dinosaur Jr.

Photo by Cara Totman

Alt rock royalty Dinosaur Jr. are anxious to get back on the road

We spoke to bassist Lou Barlow ahead of a scheduled Montreal show that has sadly now been postponed.

Dinosaur Jr., an alternative rock group from Amherst, Massachusetts known for influencing the sounds of the late ’80s and ’90s and driving bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana, was one of the first major bands to book a show in our fair city of Montreal in 2021.

Pandemic be damned, Dinosaur Jr. announced a headlining tour to support their latest LP Sweep It Into Space back in March, on the tail end of Quebec’s second wave of COVID-19. Recently a couple other headliner bands, like Deftones and Gojira, have completely cancelled tours and are opting for 2022 shows because of the uncertainty factor. The Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival, one of the biggest festivals in North America, also announced it was pumping the brakes until April of next year. 

But not Dinosaur Jr. No, they’re in it for the long haul.

“You gotta start somewhere. You book the show and pray you don’t have to cancel it,” says Dinosaur Jr. bassist and co-singer-songwriter Lou Barlow. “I guess everybody was pretty, you know, anxious to get back on the road. A lot of other things that we’ve scheduled we’ve had to cancel. Like we were gonna go to Europe, but that’s not happening now till next year.”

Dinosaur Jr. already played a few outdoor socially distanced shows in Massachusetts last year. 

“There was one that was like a drive-in show where people were in their cars. It was a little weird. It’s not unknown to me, but it is a little strange playing to people sitting down,” Barlow says. 

Dinosaur Jr. also released a low-budget pandemic-inspired music video for “Garden,” a track on Sweep It Into Space that Barlow wrote. The video features Barlow, guitarist/singer J Mascis and drummer Patrick Murphy all donning masks and winter jackets as they play through the strangely soothing Dinosaur Jr. track. 

“(Garden) was a song I finished right before the pandemic,” Barlow says. “There was a lot of negative energy going around and I was really just responding to that, you know? I had just come back with my other band, Sebadoh, and we were in Australia right when the pandemic was sweeping through there and we barely made it back into the country.” 

The video was also directed by Barlow and his wife Adele, and primarily shot with iPhones. 

“I asked the guys, ‘Do you think you could spare two hours and I’ll go over to J’s house and we’ll just capture some stuff on cell phones?’” Barlow says. “We were all wearing masks ’cause of the pandemic and it made it so easy to edit. I didn’t have to sync the lips so it was kind of perfect.”

Sweep It Into Space is Dinosaur Jr.’s best record in years, or at least since the reunion with all original members in 2005. It’s definitely a softer album and trades out the heavy dirge-like guitar for more soft psychedelic rock. But the guitar wankery from J Mascis is still present and Kurt Vile even adds a new flavour as a guest on a few tracks.

“It just sort of came out that way,” Barlow says. “We all had input and it’s always been about the music with us. And it’s great because Sweep It Into Space is really fun to play live.” ■

Alt rock royalty Dinosaur Jr. are anxious to get back on the road

This article originally appeared in the August issue of Cult MTL. The Dinosaur Jr. show scheduled to take place at the Corona Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 7 has been POSTPONED. A new date is TBA.

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