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Dinosuar Jr – J Mascis Interview

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The notion of interviewing Dinosaur Jr founder and mainstay J Mascis is always adaunting one. Famously reticent in interview Mascis comes across as an otherworldly and aloof professor, reluctant to communicate verbally what he could so easily impart with a simple solo or feedback squall. However, in person, hunched over a west London hotel couch, though never bordering on chatty Mascis is engaging, witty and warm. As well he should be, for life is good for Mascis at the moment, the original line up of Dinosaur Jr are about to drop ‘Farm’ their second album since reforming for ‘Beyond’, they have signed to new home Jagjaguwar and Mascis is also a new father. Though for now he seems far more interested in iPhone apps.

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Written by Jonathan

June 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The Streets – Mike Skinner interview

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This article originally appeared on Gigwise.

“Finishing this album was the highlight of my life”, so says an enthused Mike Skinner reflecting on his summer of activity before the release of The Streets fourth album ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ later this month. It has been a strange ride for Mr Skinner since his previous album ‘The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living’, an album he describes as his bravest to date, even before the latest installment has hit the shelves he has previously revealed to the press that he is working on his fifth album which will fulfill his record deal and allow him to make the wild career hop into movies, a natural progression from his Beat Stevie mini movies, which he has been touting around the press of late. There’s also the small business of that video for ‘The Escapist’ where he appeared to walk the length of France, “the way I experience music mostly these days is on YouTube, so the video you see on YouTube is real events, it’s much better than some corporate video… I just want to do genuine things and thats what The Escapist video was.” Before all that there comes the business of ‘Everything is Borrowed’.

“The intention (of ‘Everything is Borrowed’) was to make something that was undeniably positive”, says Mike from his home, which contrary to the belief of worried fans who misread his blog post about the recent video for ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ has not been repossessed! The album in general seems to be one of personal reflection, a stock take and a musing on the wider implications of the way in which our individual lives fit into the surrounding society as a whole, the impact the individual has and the hole that they create and leave when they depart. Initial singles ‘The Escapist’ and ‘Everything is Borrowed’ imparticular set out the stall about the transient nature of possession and belongings, singing “I’ll not feel no fear, Cos’ I‘m not really here, I’m nowhere near here” on the former. It is the soundtrack to a million credit crunched hearts. It is also a down tempo sound, low key positivity, with an almost zen quality that rolls with a clam determination, like the cheer that greats the sunrise after a long hard night on a Glastonbury hill. “I had to throw a lot of songs away as I got a bit too clever,” says Mike before continuing, “society has to be very reductive now as we don’t have very much time. I’ve got my whole life being me and you’ve just got a few minutes of your day so you have to reduce me down. That’s reflected in the album.”

Taking this album to the road Mike has been concocting some extras for the fans to ensure that the next Streets tour offers something a little special. The most outlandish being that fans should bring items for Mike and the gang to ‘borrow’, those fans that have the coolest ofr most unique items will get to travel with the band to the next date on the tour. “With The Streets there’s not that many of us and everything we do is really genuine, so I’m thinking it could be something really low key for the fans, and obviously it will be really good for filming as well. I haven’t really thought about it yet (what he’s hoping he can borrow) maybe a spare pair of pants, always gets a bit short for that on tour!” He jokes. “They’re all very back to basics The Streets shows, but they are getting really good, and what I get he audience to do, no ones doing what I’m doing in terms of crowd tricks and stuff.” Those looking to attend the upcoming tour will be heartened to hear that Mike has been honing these skills across the summer with appearances at events like Ibiza Rocks, “it was just an amazing, amazing show. The whole crowd was … I do these go lows, which has been copied largely, but of which I was the inventor! Lets not forget that! So doing that and getting everyone in the pool it was just a really really cool show. People always have a really good time at a Streets gig.”

Speaking with Mike Skinner and looking through the videos and lyrics to ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ it’s brought back home what an ordinary guy he is. It’s easy to forget the fresh bedroom sound of ‘Original Pirate Material’ and think of the headlines and celeb baiting moments that accompanied his two follow ups. “I think there was a lot of misunderstanding, down to me really, but I never had a celebrity lifestyle, I think I was struggling with my own self image, I think thats what that (‘Hardest way to make an easy living’) was about,” Mike muses. “People can’t fill in the gaps as they have no idea what my life was like at that time and had a lot of preconceptions as to what they thought my life was like. I think you add all those things together and it sounds like I’m complaining, but I was just a young guy thrust into an odd…they weren’t these situations of celebrity that I was in. I was just someone who had really changed in the estimation of people but my lifestyle hadn’t really changed.” Nowhere is the perception of the music geek next door better illustrated than when Mike gets onto the subject of his obsession with rare drum machines like his recently acquired Roland TR-909 and the potential chances for re-skinning it. “There’s an amazing guy down in Devon, he’s just done the Kaiser Chiefs, I can’t stand the Kaiser Chiefs, but he’s just down all of their gear in white and it looks amazing. I haven’t got too colour schemey on this tour but I love what he’s doing and I’ve actually just got a 1973 Fender bass which he’s turning pink for me, that’s my theme so it will all be luminous pink and yellow and green, but like army camouflage!” When he chats drum machines there’s a quiver in his voice and no doubt a tear in his eye.

As for the future past the release of ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ and the subsequent tour? Well there’s the aforementioned fifth album that is well underway, “I am writing constantly,” says Mike enthusiastically, before revealing the long hard road ahead for the escapist himself, “I’m hoping to be on the Big Day Out in February though I’m still not on their line up. Then obviously we’re going to do America as well next year.” So even if the future holds Mike Skinner the actor in its sights we can rest assured that there’s a few years left on The Streets yet.