J Mascis

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J Mascis
J Mascis at Virgin Festival in 2009
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Donald Mascis Jr.
Born (1965-12-10) December 10, 1965 (age 58)
Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • drums
  • bass
  • keyboards
Years active1982–present
Member of Dinosaur Jr.
Formerly of
Website www.jmascis.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Joseph Donald Mascis Jr. (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. He was ranked number 74 in a Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists", [1] and number 5 in a similar list for Spin magazine in 2012. [2]



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 Mascis, née Reichenheim, 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 Reichenheim, professionally known as 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 Squier 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. This model was discontinued in 2021. Due to demand and chatter on popular social media platforms, Fender re-released the model in early 2023. As of April 2024, the model continues to be produced.

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. It also features a top-loader bridge.


Solo albums



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


  • 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" b/w "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)
  • "Can't Believe We're Here" (2023, Sub Pop)

Dinosaur Jr.

J and Friends

J Mascis + The Fog


Deep Wound

Upsidedown Cross

Sweet Apple

Heavy Blanket

Unknown Instructors

Other appearances

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dinosaur Jr.</span> American rock band

Dinosaur Jr. is an American rock band formed in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1984. Originally called Dinosaur, the band was forced to change their name due to legal issues.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sebadoh</span> American indie rock band

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lou Barlow</span> American musician

Louis Knox Barlow is an American alternative rock musician and songwriter. A founding member of the groups Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion, Barlow is credited with helping to pioneer the lo-fi style of rock music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His first band, which was formed in Amherst, Massachusetts, was Deep Wound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deep Wound</span> American hardcore punk band

Deep Wound was an American hardcore punk band formed in 1982 in Westfield, Massachusetts. They released one self-titled 7-inch and contributed two songs to the compilation LP, Bands That Could Be God, both of which are sought after by fans and record collectors alike. The band influenced the Massachusetts hardcore scene and the development of grindcore.

<i>Where You Been</i> 1993 studio album by Dinosaur Jr.

Where You Been is the fifth official studio album by Dinosaur Jr., released on February 9, 1993.

<i>Youre Living All Over Me</i> 1987 studio album by Dinosaur Jr.

You're Living All Over Me is the second studio album by American alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. It was released on December 14, 1987, through SST Records.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J Mascis + The Fog</span> American rock band

J Mascis + The Fog was an American rock band formed by J Mascis in 2000, following the break-up of Dinosaur Jr. The project released two albums; 2000's More Light and 2002's Free So Free.

<i>Bug</i> (Dinosaur Jr. album) 1988 studio album by Dinosaur Jr.

Bug is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr., released in October 1988 through SST Records. Blast First and Au Go Go Records released the album in the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively. It was the last Dinosaur Jr. album with original bassist Lou Barlow until Beyond in 2007.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murph (drummer)</span> American drummer

Emmett Jefferson Murphy III, professionally credited as both Patrick Murphy and Murph, is best known for being the drummer for the alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. He was a member of the group from its founding in 1984 through 1993, and since the original lineup reformed in 2005.

Witch is an American stoner metal band formed in 2005 whose members are from Vermont and Massachusetts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Start Choppin</span> 1993 single by Dinosaur Jr.

"Start Choppin" is a song by Dinosaur Jr. written by J Mascis and taken from their fifth album Where You Been. Created after Mascis came up with the title phrase, the song was accompanied by a music video that aired on alternative rock music programs.

<i>Witch</i> (album) 2006 studio album by Witch

Witch is the eponymous debut album by Witch, a stoner doom band founded by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. "Soul of Fire" was released as a single with a demo version of "Rip Van Winkle" as the b-side. Heavy Black Sabbath influence is cited for this album.

<i>Beyond</i> (Dinosaur Jr. album) 2007 studio album by Dinosaur Jr.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feel the Pain</span> 1994 single by Dinosaur Jr.

"Feel the Pain" is a single by alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. from their 1994 album Without a Sound. It was released as the debut single from the album the same year, reaching number four on the Modern Rock charts in the US and number 25 in the UK. A music video for the song was also released, helping boost the song's popularity.

<i>Paralyzed</i> (album) 2008 studio album by Witch

Paralyzed is the second studio album by American doom metal band Witch, founded by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. Like their debut, Black Sabbath influence is noted, along with Black Flag influence for this album. This album reflected a bit of a change in Witch's sound, with them drawing more on hardcore punk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Wagon</span> 1991 single by Dinosaur Jr.

"The Wagon" is a song by alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr., released on their 1991 album Green Mind. Featuring lyrics inspired by the band's use of station wagons for transportation in its early days, the song was written by J Mascis and was one of the three songs on Green Mind to include drummer Murph.

<i>Several Shades of Why</i> 2011 studio album by J Mascis

Several Shades of Why is the debut solo studio album by American musician J Mascis, best known as the frontman of the group Dinosaur Jr. The album was released March 15, 2011 on Sub Pop Records.

<i>Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not</i> 2016 studio album by Dinosaur Jr.

Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is the eleventh studio album by alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. It was announced on May 24 and was released on August 5, 2016. The music video for first single "Tiny" was released on June 20. The second single, "Goin Down", was released on July 27. The name of the album is taken from the line of the "Knocked Around" lyrics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sweet Apple</span>

Sweet Apple is an American rock band formed in 2010.

<i>Fossils</i> (album) 1991 compilation album by Dinosaur Jr.

Fossils is a compilation album by indie rock band Dinosaur Jr., released in August 1991 on SST Records. It contains three 7" singles the band had previously released on SST, including a version of the song 'Keep The Glove' which is different from the version on the reissue of Bug, as well as three covers. A deluxe 5"x7" edition, along with an accompanying book box set, was released on Record Store Day 2014.


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