This is the original transcript of the interview, only minor editing has been applied for readability. This has been the basis for articles but has never been published in the original form.
Wortraub: Hi, we are going to have an interview for Slack today, which is a skater magazine.
J.: That’s cool. I just met Tony Hawk at the airport. In Conneticut. It was 6 in the morning and he was going to demonstration at an amusement park. I have met him before. I sat there and heard this ‚J.Mascis‘, turned around and said: ‚Tony Hawk‘. That was all.
Wortraub: Dinosaur Jr. has gone through a lot of changes but you finally found back to the original version of the band. Would you say, you have all grown up now?
J.: Somewhat. I guess we grew up. Lou finally became less angry after all.
Wortraub: Is this a temporary revival?
J.: We have plans for the rest of the summer that is about it.
Wortraub: You are infamous for not giving a shit about outward appearances, for coolness or all the other aspects of being a famous rock musician. What is important for you?
J.: This is kind of a … I like to keep busy, I guess. That is one thing that motivates me, to have something to do. I like music, I don’t have many interests.
Wortraub: Musically, you seem to be consistent with your style from before. Noisy, sometimes a little artsy and by far not mainstream. How do you feel here? How come you found yourself opening for the RHCP?
J.: It feels not too good to be here. Awkward. I don’t know, there is probably 30000 people in here. They called and asked us. I don’t know why?
Wortraub: Is there a changed attitude in the band? Towards each other or towards doing music?
J.: I guess I like playing live better than I used to. I never liked playing live. I thought it was all a chore, when I was younger. It did not change my playing. I just found that I enjoyed playing live more. I remember like complaining to Sonic Youth one time, about this live shit and they were like: Well, we like to play live. At the time I was like: What are you talking about? I just didn’t get it or something. But now, I kind of like it and understand what he was talking about.
Wortraub: Isn’t it a more direct feeling for the crowd, than for example in the studio?
J.: It is not like I liked the studio either. I did not like anything. I was a way more negative person. I guess I am more positive now. It changed when I started following this indian woman Ammachi ñ she is like a living saint. Like Mother Theresa or something. I changed through that a lot, and through growing up. I started getting into that in the mid-90s. I have been to India a bunch of times and got another perspective. She inspired me and I have been meditating. Maybe that helps.
Wortraub: Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?
J.: Yeah, I guess now. She is more Hindu based but it is not really Hindu. All kinds of religions come to see her. It is a pretty basic message I guess. Help other people I guess.
Wortraub: You are an icon in the non-iconic independent scene. Are you aware of your stylistic influence?
J.: Only if somebody tells me directly. That they have been inspired by me or my music.
Wortraub: You have designed some skate stuff with Alien Workshop. So you must be important to the scene. How did this partnership come about?
J.: I knew them since they started. Because I knew Neil Blender and he was involved with them, in the beginning when the company started. They all moved to Ohio. So, I kind of know them from the start. We had a t-shirt with them long time ago. I have always been with them sort of involved. I have done some music for them. So, we asked them and other skateboard companies to do something. But we decided to stay with them because we knew each other for so long.
Wortraub: What was your initial idea behind the designs?
J.: I did not really … the only one I really designed is this one. The ‚Green Dream‘. The other ones is just … they came to me with some designs and I just picked them out. They are cool, but this one is the only one I did. I don’t know. I was inspired by another board I saw there. I don’t know. I just thought it might look cool.
Wortraub: What is the importance of skating in your life? Do you still skateboard?
J.: A little bit. I skateboard with the dog. To walk the dog around the neighborhood.
Wortraub: We wanted to go to a new bowl that had opened up, but because of the Chili Peppers security that did not work out …
J.: Oh, wow. There was a new bowl around that opened up where I live and they were all scared of that thing.
Wortraub: Do you actually skate in a bowl?
J.: No, I have never been in a bowl. When I was skating there was just ramps and half-pipes and more ramps. They had a skate park that was near me then that did not have a bowl, it just had ramps.
Wortraub: How long have you skated? Why skateboarding?
J.: Most of my skating has been done probably in the late 70s. That is when I skated the most. I was thirteen or fourteen. I don’t really know why. It just seemed like the coolest thing to do at the time. The local kids around did it. There was one spot at the University at this big concrete thing that people would skate. It was sort of a ramp, but at the end it was flat. It had an insane transition, it was like (*kchhng*) … the whole place was like concrete and people would skate there, they would put a wooden board up there to give it a better transition. You could not go straight ahead or the front of your board would hit vent. You had to like skate it to the sight and up. And that’s were people started to build ramps and stuff.
Wortraub: Do you still have a fav spot?
J.: Yeah, that was kind of the main spot. It was called the Fine Arts Centre and the building was all concrete. There were some stairs too. They had this little reflection pond in front of the place that they drained out. That became another thing it was this little thing, that went like this … I don’t know, a little pool that became the next best spot. They wouldn’t let you skate on that ramp thing after a while. So we tried to jump like these stairs, there were like eight stairs. Because no one knew how to olli at that point, it was like hold on to the board and like bunny hop over the stairs.
Wortraub: Do you think that skating is still an independent or alternative activity? Also: your music? Is it still the same idea? Same spirit? Is it selling out?
J.: Yeah, at the core of it I would say yeah, it is. It is not selling out, no not really.It was before the time, when people were a snob about being independent, when we did not have any concept of independent. We did not want to be anything. We were just like doing stuff like ourselves. We did not even consider a major label or anything. It is not like we didn’t want to be on a major label, we just never considered it possible. It would not enter our mind. The bands that we liked were doing stuff on their own, we were just doing that too. When someone would have asked: Do you want to be on a major label? I would not have had any prejudice against that, it was just like … at the time it made sense. We could sell more records, so why not try it out. After that it became like: weird … people wanted to be indie-rock or something. We never even thought about it. It is not like we thought: oh, we are not gonna play a stadium … we never even considered having the opportunity. I wasn’t against it, it just never entered my consciousness.
Wortraub: Is this the biggest concert you have done, then?
J.: No, there have been festivals, in England for example. Reading or … we opened for The Cure in L.A. before, that was pretty big.
Wortraub: What were the inspirations you had, when you started the band?
J.: We were coming out of a hardcore punk scene. Even the Bad Brains were kind of big to us. It was more like Minor Threat, the discord stuff. Ne-Crows, Negative Approach, the ‚Touch and Go‘-Records and Black Flag was a bigger one. SST, we liked all the SST bands.
Wortraub: So, this is were the indie is coming from. DIY hardcore, than to you guys with independent, then to Nirvana with Grunge and then on to mainstream …
J.: …. and now back again. Things seem a lot more independent again in the US, a lot of the people are making cds of a hundred again. Limited editions. There is a lot of underground going on again. That’s good.