The music business is rampant with reunions, often times driven more by business than music. But it's fitting that in the case of Dinosaur Jr. a reunion at least aided by industry attention was solidified not by record sales, but the wisdom of age and gift of inspiration.
The trio, based in Amherst, Mass., was central to the indie underground explosion at the turn of the '90s yet never broke through to mainstream acclaim. On the surface, when frontman J Mascis regained the rights to the band's first three albums for reissue on Merge Records, the 2005 return of the original mid-to-late '80s lineup after a rocky downfall bore little permanence. But after reliving the glory of their dusty canon, Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph realized there was plenty of rollick resting in the rhythm of their distorted, melodic melancholy, and returned to form with this year's release of all-new material on "Beyond" (Fat Possum).
Barlow, who launched lauded projects such as Sebadoh and Folk Implosion in between tenures with Dinosaur, sounds more settled in than ever in anticipation of a fall tour that hits the Town Ballroom at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
>We both agree that the band's sound hasn't really changed much since the last record the three of you made together. But what do you bring to the table now that you didn't before?
Well, musically, for the record we just did, I wrote two songs, and really made an attempt to write with J. and Murph in mind, and build songs up the way that we played together. In general, I'm totally different -- I'm mellower, more confident and secure within myself. I'm a lot more comfortable in my own skin than I was back then, and it's a lot easier for anyone to deal with me probably. (Laughs.)
>Is it safe to say that the comfort level in the band has never been better?
I guess, yeah. I've always been comfortable with Murph -- he's the heart of the band. He can talk to J. and I really easily and casually. I knew what I was getting into doing this again, but also, I brought my wife and baby on tour, and friends we had in common, so it became a bit of a family experience almost immediately.
>Nothing like a wife and kids to remind you that the times have changed, huh?
Oh yeah. I don't think we need anything else to remind us of that! I was last in the band in '89, and we were really young, and adjusting to lives as touring musicians. Now, we're in our 40s, we've already come to terms with the road, and we enjoy it. Back then, I was ambivalent about it, but now I'm prepared. When you can tour and really enjoy it, and not lapse into depression, it's a lot easier.
>So you didn't enjoy touring the first time around?
When I was younger, I was never really psyched about touring. I loved the music, but the reality of touring is it's a pretty unique lifestyle, and it's hard to get settled in. But I'm more committed to it now.
-- Seamus Gallivan, Special to The News