Lou Barlow :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

If a band's going to stage a "comeback," there are few greater examples of doing it right than the one put down by Dinosaur Jr.

Since reforming in 2005, the original lineup of J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph have gone on to put out more albums since reuniting than the three classics they released in the ‘80s -- Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me, and Bug — helping to cement the framework of “alternative rock” in the process. Their latest, the quizzically titled Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, is one of their strongest yet, 11 jammers alternating between whopping riffs and folky sway. Mascis’ signature drawl sounds as craggy as ever, his  toasty guitar solos effortless; Murph’s drums are locked in and boomy; Barlow offers his thick, melodic bass and sings two of the record’s best songs.

The fruitful return of Dinosaur Jr. was anything but assured. After Mascis fired Barlow from the band post-Bug, the bassist launched off on his own prolific and influential career, forming Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, and often remarking publicly about his dissatisfaction with Mascis.   Eventually, he began releasing records under his own name, maintaining a bare, sometimes shockingly honest emotional tone. But time has a way of smoothing out the creases, and Barlow seems perfectly at ease with his role in Dinosaur Jr. these days.

"When we came around to making these reunion records, [they didn't turn out] a whole lot different from what J had been doing," Barlow says. "He's been remarkably consistent throughout his career. So having Murph and I come back in, we kind of came into his ongoing story."

His solo output hasn’t slowed since rejoining — Sebadoh released Defend Yourself in 2013, and a solo album, Brace the Wave, followed in 2015, and he’s readying an EP for release by the end of the year.   He’s feeling creative since moving back to Massachusetts from Los Angeles,   putting him closer to his Dinosaur Jr. bandmates, which has brought “this kid of ease and flow to stuff I haven't had of a while, for a very long while," the bassist says.

Below, edited excerpts from an early morning phone talk with Barlow, about the familial connections between Dinosaur Jr. and his work outside the band, about not being classically “cool” and about the uncomfortable realizations that accompany personal growth.

Dinosaur Jr. :: Tiny

Aquarium Drunkard: Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is an excellent album -- each of these new records has been better than the last, I think. When you initially reunited more than a  decade ago, what kind of discussions did you have about the state of things? Was there any talk about continuing on after making Beyond?  

Lou Barlow:  We don't have strategy talks. We never did. [Laughs] Every record could be the last as far as I know, has been since the beginning, which isn't a bad thing necessarily.

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