"Weird Al" Yankovic channels the Pixies in “First World Problems.”
J Mascis covers Edie Brickell’s “Circle of Friends” (2012).
The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus interviews Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis for Under the Radar
|Norman Reedus:||Hey, I wanted to ask you about your meditation process, and I know you have a guru that you work with. I was talking to Kim Gordon, and I was saying, "Hey, I know you know J. What are some good questions I can ask him? I'm a big fan of his." And she brought up your guru, which I find really fascinating.|
|J Mascis:||Oh, yeah. I haven't meditated too much since I had a kid. That has taken a lot of my spare time. But, yeah, I still go see [Mata Amritanandamayi, aka Amma] and she just had a 60th birthday—a big thing in India that I went and played at. That was cool. There were all these different musicians and dance troupes who are big in India, so it was really interesting to see that. I had to follow this circus act where a guy had a pot on his head and he was blindfolded, and he had a machete and he chopped a coconut in half that was sitting on some other guy's head. So that was kind of hard to follow.|
|Reedus:||That is awesome! [Laughs] The other guy had a coconut on his neck and he took the machete and cut the coconut?|
|Mascis:||Yeah, the blindfolded guy chopped the coconut in half while it was sitting on the other guy's neck. And he chopped some other stuff, some other fruits that were near his genital region. They did a lot of crazy stuff. That was a weird act to follow.|
|Reedus:||And then what? You just plugged in and played?|
|Mascis:||Yeah. I have a few friends who are also into Amma—a drummer from L.A., Herb [Graham, Jr.], and this guy [Mikko von Hertzen], who is actually a rock star in Finland, he played bass. I was surprised that they had a Marshall [amplifier] in India, so they just cranked it up. And we were right next to Amma while she was hugging people. That's her main thing. She hugs people. So thousands of people line up, and she had already been up for 22 hours straight, doing this on her birthday. And then we plug in and starting blasting away a few feet from her head. It was kind of weird, but she seemed into it.|
I don’t think [Sonic Youth’s] music had any commercial appeal whatsoever; I mean, maybe a little bit. But Dirty didn’t have [Nirvana’s] simplicity of pronouncement, and it didn’t have the magic that was coming out of Kurt’s throat. That was really what it was; if there had been any other singer in that band, we wouldn’t be talking about them now. It was complete magic, it was beautiful.
If you came of age at a certain time — say, that musical sweet spot around 1993/’94 when the “Alternative Nation” was just coming into full bloom — chances are Veruca Salt were/are very important to you. In 1994, I was enduring my first year of college, and American Thighs — Veruca Salt’s much-beloved debut album — was basically the unofficial soundtrack of my life. Not only were Veruca Salt ostensibly just very cool — a band fronted by two badass guitar-wielding women, Nina Gordon and Louise Post — their music was oddly prescient as well, neatly ushering in a swarm of other bands who understood the benefit of marrying snarly guitars with undeniable pop hooks and gooey vocal harmonies. Given that “Seether” — the band’s breakthrough single — was one of the most omnipresent songs of the ’90s, the future seemed (at least in that moment) to be Veruca Salt’s for the taking. They sold more than a million records, they toured with other, similarly great bands (Hole and PJ Harvey among them) and played an arena show in front of 10,000 people in their hometown of Chicago. Still, the story of Veruca Salt — like so many of their ’90s brethren — would turn out to be a cautionary tale of sorts. After releasing their Bob Rock-produced sophomore album, Eight Arms To Hold You, and doing a lengthy round of touring, Gordon abruptly left the band in what she now describes as some real Behind The Music bullshit: “It was drugs and cheating and all that junk.” Both Gordon and Post would soldier on making music (Gordon under her own name, Post under the Veruca Salt moniker), but it would never really be the same. Sadder than the end of their musical partnership was the end of their friendship, something that both Post and Gordon mourned for the better part of the next two decades.
But this story has a happy ending. Twenty years after the release of American Thighs, Nina Gordon and Louise Post officially reunited as Veruca Salt, having quietly rekindled their friendship over the past several years. In 2013 the two women re-teamed with their other original bandmates — drummer Jim Shapiro (who is also Gordon’s brother) and bassist Steve Lack — to make some new music. As a result, the band just released a special 10″ vinyl for Record Store Day (including two brand-new and classic-sounding tracks, “The Museum of Broken Relationships” and “It’s Holy”), and are currently hard at work on material for a new Veruca Salt LP with producer Brad Wood (the same person responsible for producing American Thighs back in 1994). They’ll also be hitting the road this summer. I had the good fortune of chatting with Gordon and Post about their reunion and their enduring friendship, for their first interview together as Veruca Salt in 17 years. Read the interview then check out “The Museum of Broken Relationships.”