In our latest interview we talk to Murph, the drummer and an original member of the veteran rock icons Dinosaur Jr.
“We’re more rock and less punk these days”
The band are well known globally, having formed all the way back in 1984. Their line-up has gone through various changes until they split in 1997. Eight years later in 2005, Dinosaur Jr reformed with its original line-up. They have since released three studio albums – the latest ‘I Bet On Sky’ being released late 2012 – and are currently on tour. Woo! The band have recently unveiled a new video featuring Henry Rollins (which you can see below…). We have a chat with Murph to get the latest on Dinosaur Jr, converse a little on what this drummer was up to during the band’s hiatus, and we talk about the “new” Dinosaur Jr.
First of all, in our interview we ask Murph how the tour’s going?! “It’s good man, things are great. The shows are going really well!” The band has recently moved their tour over to mainland Europe after finishing their UK tour dates. The drummer says, “We’re playing 24 and 25 shows, something like that. We’ve played Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester already…it was really good over in the UK!”
He talks to us about what it’s like to be back to the original line-up, “It feels good, it’s great! It’s like we never left.” We wondered how it came to be that Dinosaur Jr reformed, after not being a band at all for eight years, “It was really J’s [Dinosaur Jr] manager. J was originally just going to release the records but there was so much interest…there was such a buzz surrounding getting the three of us back together that we started getting a lot of offers from festivals and promoters so it just kind of happened.”
Murph speaks fondly of working with the band again, “It’s much more professional now; it’s a lot less tense. Back in the early days it was really tense because we didn’t really get along so everything was a real struggle, where as now it’s a lot more care-free. We can kind of have fun with it.” He adds, “I just feel like we’re all a lot older and a lot wiser, especially J [Mascis, vocals] and Lou Barlow [guitar] ‘cos they’ve had kids and that’s a huge change. I’m kind of like the uncle around now so we’ve got more of a family vibe.”
Murph has had a long run with Dinosaur Jr, having his roots with them since their first formation. We wondered what the drummer got up to during his time away from the band, “I ended up getting together with Evan Dando from The Lemonheads and doing a record ‘Car Button Cloth’. Then I did about two years of touring and then I did a lot of session work in New York City. After that I moved up to Maine for about a year and a half and that brought me right up to the re-union.”
Other websites and publications have described Dinosaur Jr’s latest studio album, ‘I Bet On Sky’, as being a little softer than previous records. Not to suggest this is negative, the album received overall great reviews. Murph explains how this sound was not deliberate, “It just came out that way; we’re never deliberate…we never try to go for a certain sound. The only difference on this record is J really concentrated a lot on vocals; he spent a lot more time on vocals than he has in the past and I think it kind of shows on the songs.”
Deliberate or not, the drummer describes the change he has noticed as the band have matured, “I think we’re a little more rock, and maybe less punk. We still have the punk energy but live it’s more like a rock show where as in the early days it felt more like a punk rock show. Certain shows are still definitely kind of punky depending on our set. It’s partly mellowing with age, plus we have better equipment and we play better.”
Dinosaur Jr’s most recent single, which is out now, is called ‘Pierce The Morning Rain’ (see above…) and features Henry Rollins in the video…we love Henry. The drummer talks about the band’s relationship with Rollins, “We’d done the ‘Bug’  record and we had Henry come on tour. He did like an interview, spoken word, thing; we did eight shows on the east and the west coast [USA]. Then we had also done like an IFC [Independent Film Channel] that he had created and then he also had this skateboarding show for a while called The Daily Habit which we played live on. It just kind of slowly happened over a course of exchanges with him.”
As our conversation with this rock veteran draws to an end, Murph talks to us a little about what’s in store for the near future, “Just more festivals; we’re doing Primavera in Spain and a few other festivals – it’s like this big ball; it’s actually been going on a while. So that’s pretty much it for spring and summer; just concentrating on festivals. It should be a lot of fun.”