As founder and guitar hero of alt-rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr. J Mascis could easily be content with sticking to the sonic formula that’s worked so well for his century-old band, his long string of side projects — Deep Wound, Gobblehoof, Velvet Monkeys, the Fog, Witch and Sweet Apple, and during his innumerable guest sessions. Instead, the 45-year-old seasoned vet left behind the comforts of his stacks of amps, sidestepped his gargantuan guitar tones, blistering solos and balls-to-the-wall hard-rock drumming, and entered the Bisquiteen Studios in Amherst, Mass., with only his acoustic guitar in tow.
“I used to play a lot of acoustic shows and my friend Megan (Jasper), who worked for Sub Pop, was always asking me to do an acoustic album because she liked the shows,” Mascis explained when he visited our Fender digs at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. “I just hadn’t gotten around to it because Dino got back together. So it’s been probably eight years or so in the making.”
The result, Several Shades of Why, is significant not only because it marks the first solo studio album in Mascis’s 25-year recording career, but because its acoustic setting reveals a whole new vulnerability and delicacy that’s not usually associated with the Dino Jr. mastermind. See this new side to Mascis in this exclusive performance of Several Shades of Why cut “Listen to Me.”