J Mascis

Last updated

J Mascis
J-mascis.jpg
J Mascis at Virgin Festival in 2009
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Donald Mascis Jr.
Born (1965-12-10) December 10, 1965 (age 56)
Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Instrument(s)
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • drums
  • keyboards
Years active1982–present
Website www.jmascis.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Joseph Donald Mascis Jr. ( /ˈmæskɪs/ MASS-kiss; born December 10, 1965), better known as J Mascis, is an American musician who is the singer, guitarist and main songwriter for the alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. He has also released several albums as a solo artist and played drums and guitar on other projects. His most recent solo album, Elastic Days , was released in November 2018. He was ranked number 86 in a Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists", [1] and number 5 in a similar list for Spin magazine in 2012. [2]

Contents

Biography

Mascis was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, the son of a dentist, [3] and grew up in the same area together with his sister Patty and older brother Mike. [4] His mother, Theresa (an avid golfer), died in 1985 while his father, Joseph Sr., died in 1993. [5] [6]

Mascis became a music fan and drumming enthusiast at the age of 9. He later joined the jazz ensemble in school as a drummer. [7] At 17, Mascis joined the short-lived hardcore group Deep Wound with Lou Barlow, Scott Helland, and Charlie Nakajima in the early 1980s. [6] [8] He went on to found Dinosaur Jr. with bassist Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson "Patrick" Murphy (aka "Murph") in 1984, switching to guitar in the process, and they achieved national success. [6] His vocals have been described as "Neil Young-like" and his guitar riffs as "monolithic". [9] Mascis dismissed Barlow from Dinosaur Jr. in 1989 and over the next eight years recorded several more Dinosaur Jr. albums, as well as the 1996 acoustic solo album Martin + Me. In 1989 Kurt Cobain suggested that Mascis join Nirvana as a guitarist. [10]

The manager for Deep Wound was Gerard Cosloy, who then went on to found Homestead Records. Homestead released Dinosaur Jr.'s first record. Mascis says that the reason why Dinosaur Jr.'s sound is not fully formed on that record is that they were more or less automatically signed to Homestead. [11] Megan Jasper, vice president at Sub Pop Records, characterises this period as "J had some anger, like any punk rock kid. Usually, though, when a young person is angry, they tend to be really loud. And J wasn't. He was only loud when he played music". [6]

As a side project, he was the drummer in Boston doom metal group Upsidedown Cross, who released a self-titled album on Taang! Records in 1991. [12] [13] He wrote songs for the film Gas, Food, Lodging, in which he made a cameo appearance. [12] [13] In 1996, he had a small part in the movie Grace of my Heart and provided a ballad and a Beach Boys-like song for the soundtrack. In 1998, he retired the Dinosaur Jr. name. [6]

In April 2005 Mascis, Barlow, and Murph reformed the band for a tour celebrating the re-release of the group's first three albums. The reunited line-up has since released five new albums: Beyond in 2007, Farm in 2009, I Bet on Sky in 2012, [6] Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not in 2016, and Sweep It Into Space in 2021.

Solo material

Mascis performing in 2013 J Mascis 2.jpg
Mascis performing in 2013

In 2000 he began producing albums with his new band, J Mascis + The Fog. In 2003, the house and studio he owned burned down. [6]

In August 2005 Mascis released J and Friends Sing and Chant For Amma , a solo album under the J Mascis and Friends banner. The album consists of devotional songs dedicated to Hindu religious leader Mata Amritanandamayi, or Ammachi, about whom he had written "Ammaring" on the first J Mascis + The Fog album More Light. The proceeds from the album are being donated to tsunami relief efforts Ammachi's organization is spearheading. In 2008 the six-track album was made available digitally on his own Baked Goods label. [14]

In 2006 Mascis returned to drumming with his newly formed heavy metal band Witch for their self-titled debut album.

Also that year, he collaborated with Evan Dando on a new Lemonheads album. The Lemonheads was released that September, featuring Mascis playing lead guitar.

In 2010 Mascis joined with John Petkovic and Tim Parnin of Cobra Verde and Dave Sweetapple of Witch to form Sweet Apple. The self-titled debut album was released on Tee Pee Records. [15] Mascis plays drums, guitar, and sings on the album.

Mascis released a mostly acoustic album in March 2011 titled Several Shades of Why on Sub Pop Records. [16] He was joined in the studio by several guest musicians, including Kurt Vile, Ben Bridwell and Sophie Trudeau. [17] Mascis toured North America with Vile as support act to promote the album. [18] [19] In 2013 Richard Ayoade cast J Mascis in a small role, a caretaker, in his film The Double . Mascis's electric guitar work is featured on the 2014 Strand of Oaks album Heal. [20]

In April 2014 he played with reunited Nirvana on a secret gig after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. He sang the songs "School," "Pennyroyal Tea" and "Drain You." [21] In August 2014 he released the solo album Tied to a Star on Sub Pop and toured in support of it. [22]

Mascis joined Unknown Instructors on their fourth album, replacing Joe Baiza as guitarist. [23] The album, Unwilling to Explain , was released in 2019. [24]

Personal life

Mascis's wife, Luisa, whom he met in New York in the mid-1990s and married in 2004, is from Berlin, Germany. [3] [6] They reside in Amherst, Massachusetts, in a house formerly owned by Robert Thurman, a professor of religion noted for his work on Buddhism, and father of actress Uma Thurman. [6] In September 2007 they had a baby boy named Rory. [6] His brother-in-law is German filmmaker Philipp Virus, the director of the 2006 Dinosaur Jr. DVD Live in the Middle East. He is a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi, a Hindu guru and author. [25] Mascis explained that he discovered her in the mid-1990s when "I was at my lowest, as the band got bigger, I got more depressed. I was looking for anyone to help, to feel better". [4]

In 1982 Mascis became straight edge, part of a hardcore punk associated subculture whose adherents avoid drug and alcohol consumption. Since then, he has mostly been a teetotaler and never used other recreational drugs. [7]

Signature guitars

Fender Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster Fender Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster - body.jpg
Fender Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster

July 2007 saw the release of a signature guitar by Fender, the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster. The instrument comes in a Purple Sparkle finish and, while otherwise visually similar to a standard Jazzmaster, features a few modifications J requested.

December 2011 saw the release of the Squier by Fender J Mascis Jazzmaster. This features a basswood body, C-shaped maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with 9.5" radius and 21 jumbo frets, two high output single-coil Jazzmaster pickups, three-position switching and dual tone circuits, gold anodized aluminum pickguard, aged white plastic parts (knobs, switch tip, pickup covers), Adjusto-Matic™ bridge with vintage-style floating tremolo tailpiece, vintage-style tuners, chrome hardware, Vintage White finish, and J Mascis signature on the back of the large '60s-style headstock. Mascis replaces the stock pickups with Kinman Guitar Electrix ThickMaster (Jazzmaster) Zero-Hum pickups. These are, however, excluded from the factory guitar.

In August 2021 Fender released a new signature Telecaster. [26] This features an Alder body painted with a blue sparkle finish with a high-gloss polyester finish. It has custom pickups based on a 1958 Telecaster, a mirrored pickguard and a pre-worn Maple neck with a custom thinner profile, 21 frets and a 9.5" radius Maple fingerboard. The neck has a thin, part-worn Nitrocellulose lacquer satin finish. Unusually, the strings on his signature version load from the top of the instrument, not the rear of the body as usual. This is an uncommon configuration, used briefly in the late fifties and early sixties. This softens the strings tension making bending of the strings easier. It also changes the tone of the instrument somewhat, softening the attack.

Discography

Solo albums

Studio

Live

  • Martin + Me (1996)
  • The John Peel Sessions (2003)
  • J Mascis Live at CBGB's (2006)

Singles

  • J Mascis Was Here (2000, Ultimatum Music)
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane b/w Too Hard (2001, Sub Pop)
  • Not Enough (2011, Sub Pop)
  • Is It Done (2011, Sub Pop)
  • Circle (2011, Sub Pop)
  • Let It Be Me / Fade Into You (2011, Sub Pop, split with Greg Dulli)
  • Fade into You (2013, Sub Pop, Keep)
  • Every Morning (2014, Sub Pop)
  • Everything She Said (2018, Sub Pop)
  • Don't Do Me Like That (2019, Sub Pop)

Dinosaur Jr.

J and Friends

J Mascis + The Fog

Witch

Deep Wound

Upsidedown Cross

Sweet Apple

Heavy Blanket

Unknown Instructors

Collaborations

Mascis plays guitar and sings backing vocals on the song "Feed" by the now inactive post grunge band Japanese Voyeurs. "Feed" can be found on the band's only album to date, "yolk", released independently July 2012.

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References

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