Head Cheese

It’s been 17 years since Dinosaur Jr.’s genre-defining single, “Freak Scene,” came out. Absolutely infectious, it’s the hidden link between Hüsker Dü’s post-punk crush and Nirvana’s pop squall. Its conceit epitomized the blithesome nature of alt-rock before anyone ever imagined making money at it.

We recently talked with bassist Lou Barlow outside a North Carolina club before a Dinosaur Jr. show. Barlow, who has his family with him on tour, gave up these monomanias:

5. Having a kid will change your life? My whole thing was, “Yeah? I hope so.” On a purely functional level it has; to have your life change without having to do really hard work or super-hard drugs to completely bring you into a one-dimensional state before you get better.

4. Classic rock: A couple weeks ago, on the bus, I heard Traffic’s very long “Low Spark of High Heel Boys.” I thought — when did I hear this before? Oh yeah, when I was in Dinosaur. It’d been 15 years since I’d heard full Traffic songs. I have absolutely no patience for it.

3. L.A. — “Is your house down the hill?” Anytime it rains people always see these dramatic mudslides, and they’re calling me. They don’t get that the houses sliding down the hill is an occurrence rarer than a house hit by a tornado. I don’t call them, “I heard there was a tornado in the Midwest, were you hit?”

2. Dino Jr. basslines: They’re all very simple, but I manage to forget every night.

1. SAFETY’S  ILLUSION: We have an infant daughter, she’s 5 months old, and there’s no seatbelts on the bus. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how we have to base so much of our lives on faith. People think that safety is actually possible. Like the fight against terrorism. This idea you can eliminate danger from your life.


Dinosaur Jr. performs July 20, at the Majestic Theatre (4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700).

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