Far from going extinct, Dinosaur Jr. has continued to thrive

The legendary (and legendarily loud) Dinosaur Jr., a hallmark act of the ' 80s underground, combined the energy and ethos of punk with classic rock guitar and an understated vocal style. It influenced a generation of bands before losing bass player Lou Barlow in 1989 and disbanding in 1997.


In 2005, the original lineup reunited to play in support of the re-release of the first three Dinosaur Jr. albums. What began as a few dates quickly evolved , and the band continues to tour and record, releasing Beyond in 2007 and Farm later this year. The group will perform Tuesday at Sky City, 1157 Broad St.

"When we first got back together, the chemistry was just so immediate," said Mr. Barlow, who has also written and performed with indie acts Sebadoh and Folk Implosion. "It immediately felt like part of my life again. And when we started to do the record it was just there. It's funny, because I never thought it would get that far."

Dinosaur Jr. evolved from an early punk project called Deep Wound, which featured Mr. Barlow and Dinosaur's singer and guitar player J Mascis . He said little thought went into the group's distinctive sound . Their songs evolved from Mr. Mascis' discovering the guitar (he was originally a drummer) and Mr. Barlow's finding a way to fit in that style.

"It was something that happened because we were very young," he said . "When we first played together we were 17, 18 and 19. Growing up, the first real band that made me feel like I could be in a band was the Ramones, and this was a lot like that. It was about people coming together and making a sound that another group of people could not make together."

Mr. Barlow said Dinosaur Jr. 2009 sounds much like the original incarnation .

"I really don't think we've evolved very much at all," he said. "The sound we have today adheres to that same structure we had in 1986 or '87. We might have perfected it a little, our playing might be a little more confident, but really, J is still doing the same thing we were doing as kids, just in a more scientific way. I guess what we are is more consistent. It's about looking for what's close to the source and not finessing it too much."

Hesitant to put Dinosaur Jr. under too powerful a musical microscope, he said the band is a product of time, place and players. A cts such as Hüsker Dü and Black Flag inspired the band initially, and the songs on Farm still reflect those influences.

"We were part of that early hard-core generation that played with a very manic, full sound. J took that idea and combined it with archaic effects, which inspired me to play louder, to take the bass and just strum the hell out of it."

"It's a case of do it and do it now. Do it now and do it loud. Do it loud and do it well."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.