J Mascis

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J Mascis
J Mascis at Virgin Festival in 2009.
Background information
Birth name Joseph Donald Mascis, Jr.
Born (1965-12-10) December 10, 1965 (age 49)
Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Alternative rock, noise rock, hardcore punk, stoner rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards, bass, banjo
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis + The Fog, Witch, Deep Wound, Upsidedown Cross, Sonic Youth, Sweet Apple, Bless The Barn, Heavy Blanket
Website www.jmascis.com
Notable instruments
Fender Jazzmaster
Fender Telecaster

J Mascis (/ˈmæskɪs/ MASS-kiss; born Joseph Donald Mascis, Jr.; December 10, 1965) is an American musician. He is best known as the singer, guitarist and main songwriter for alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. and described as a figurehead of grunge.[1] He also developed a solo career releasing six albums while also playing drums on other projects. His latest album Tied to a Star was released in August 2014.[1] As a notable guitarist he was ranked number 86 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", and in 2012 was also ranked 5th in Spin's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.[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 an older brother.[4] His family name is Italian, from the province of Foggia, in the region of Apulia in the south of Italy.[5] His mother, Theresa (an avid golfer), died in 1985 while his father, Joseph Sr., died in 1993.[6][7][8]

At the age of 17, Mascis joined the short-lived hardcore group Deep Wound with Lou Barlow, Scott Helland, and Charlie Nakajima in the early 1980s.[7][9] He started out playing drums,[10] but moved to guitar when he went on to found Dinosaur Jr. with bassist Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson "Patrick" Murphy (aka "Murph") in 1984 and achieved national success.[7] His vocals have been described as "Neil Young-like" and his guitar riffs as "monolithic".[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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”.[7]

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.[14][15] He wrote songs for the film Gas, Food, Lodging, in which he made a cameo appearance.[14][15] 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.[7]

In April 2005 Mascis, Barlow, and Murph reformed the band for a tour celebrating the re-release of the group's first three albums. They have since released three new albums: Beyond (released in 2007), Farm (released in 2009), and I Bet on Sky (released on September 17, 2012).[7]

Solo material[edit]

In 2000 he began producing albums with his new band, J Mascis + The Fog. In 2003, the house and studio he owned burned down.[7]

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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] He was joined in the studio by several guest musicians, including Kurt Vile, Ben Bridwell and Sophie Trudeau.[19] Mascis toured North AMerica with Vile as support act to promote the album.[20][21] 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.[22]

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.[23] In August 2014 he released the solo album Tied to a Star on Subpop and toured in support of it.[1]

Personal life[edit]

His wife Luisa is from Berlin, Germany,[3] who he met in New York in the mid 1990s and married in 2004.[7] They reside in Amherst, Massachusetts, in a house formerly owned by Robert Thurman.[7] In September 2007 they had a baby boy named Rory.[7] His brother-in-law is German filmmaker Philipp Virus, the director of the 2006 Dinosaur Jr. DVD Live in the Middle East. His long-term guru is Mata Amritanandamayi.[24] 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]

Signature Jazzmasters[edit]

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 single-coil Jazzmaster pickups with 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.


Solo albums[edit]

Dinosaur Jr.[edit]

J Mascis + The Fog[edit]


Deep Wound[edit]

  • American Style (1982 – 7" – demo)
  • Deep Wound (1983 – 7" – Radiobeat)
  • Bands That Could Be God LP
  • Discography (2006 – Compilation – Damaged Goods)

Upsidedown Cross[edit]

  • Upsidedown Cross (1991)
  • Evilution (1993)
  • Witchcraft (1997)
  • Sloth/Updsidedown Cross Split (2002)

Sweet Apple[edit]

  • Do You Remember 7" – Valley King Records (2010)
  • Love & Desperation – Tee Pee Records (2010)
  • I've Got a Feeling (That Won't Change) 7" – Damaged Goods (2010)[25]
  • Elected/No Government 7" – Outer Battery Records (2012)[26]
  • Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)/Traffic 7" – Outer Battery Records (2013)[27]
  • The Golden Age of Glitter – Tee Pee Records (2014) [28]

Heavy Blanket[edit]

  • Heavy Blanket – Outer Battery Records (2012)
  • Live at Tym Guitars – Brisbane, Australia – Tym Records (2013)
  • In a Dutch Haze – Collaboration with Earthless – Outer Battery Records (2014) [29]


  1. ^ a b c Gittins, Ian (January 9, 2015). "J Mascis review – grunge godfather discovers his acoustic side". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 
  2. ^ Spin, Staff (May 3, 2012). "SPIN’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". spin.com. Spin Media. 
  3. ^ a b Lester, Paul (August 3, 2012). "J Mascis: 'I never took it that seriously'". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 
  4. ^ a b Davis, Erik (June 3, 1993). "Picking Up the Slack". spin.com. Spin Media. 
  5. ^ "Mascis Family - Mascis - Family History & Genealogy Message Board - Ancestry.com". Boards.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  6. ^ Lindsay, Cam (April 23, 2007). "J Mascis - The Exclaim! Questionnaire". exlaim.ca. The Exclaim!.  accessed September 28, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bevan, David (October 4, 2012). "Dinosaur Jr.: Rediscovering the Gnarl". spin.com. Spin Media. 
  8. ^ "Theresa Ennis Mascis (1932 - 1985) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  9. ^ Carew, Anthony. "J Mascis Kicks Lou Barlow Out of Dinosaur Jr". altmusic.about.com. About.com. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  10. ^ Kingsmill, Richard (February 15, 2001). "J FILES: Dinosaur Jr / J Mascis". Triple J. Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  11. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "J. Mascis Biography". Allmusic.com. Rovi. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  12. ^ Bevan, David (October 4, 2012). "How J Mascis Almost Joined Nirvana (Twice!) and Built to Spill". spin.com. Spin Media. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  13. ^ Interview with J Mascis, Underyourskin.net, accessed September 27, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1. 
  15. ^ a b Selzer, Jonathan (1991) "Signs of Life", Lime Lizard, October 1991, p. 48-9
  16. ^ Hughes, Josiah (November 21, 2008). "J Mascis Issues Digital Solo Album For Charity". exclaim.ca. The Exclaim!. 
  17. ^ "J Mascis Forms New Band, Sweet Apple". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  18. ^ Hughes, Joshiah (November 5, 2010). "J Mascis Announces Solo Acoustic Album". exclaim.ca. Exclaim!. 
  19. ^ "J Mascis Several Shades of Why". exclaim.ca. Exclaim!. March 15, 2011. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  20. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (January 18, 2011). "J Mascis Tours With Kurt Vile | News". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  21. ^ Lindsey, Cam (March 14, 2011). "J Mascis Great Hall, Toronto ON March 11". exclaim.ca. Exclaim!. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  22. ^ "First Listen: Strand of Oaks, 'Heal'". npr.org. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  23. ^ Breihan, Tom (April 11, 2014). "Watch Video From Nirvana & Friends’ Secret Show At Saint Vitus Last Night - Stereogum". stereogum.com. Spin Media. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  24. ^ Hawthorne, Marc. "Onion AV Club Interview". The Onion. Archived from the original on 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  25. ^ Damaged Goods release: I've Got a Feeling. damagedgoods.co.uk. Retrieved on 2014-08-13.
  26. ^ Outer Battery release: Elected/No Government. outerbatteryrecords.com. Retrieved on 2014-08-13.
  27. ^ Outer Battery release: Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)/Traffic. outerbatteryrecords.com. Retrieved on 2014-08-13.
  28. ^ Sweet Apple Discography. sweetapplesongs.com. Retrieved on 2014-08-13.
  29. ^ Outer Battery release: In a Dutch Haze. outerbatteryrecords.com. Retrieved on 2014-08-13.

External links[edit]