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J Mascis

Dinosaur Jr.

"I just found by playing the guitar louder, you can get some air moving and it hits your body and impacts you somehow. So I've always worn earplugs since the beginning too, 'cause I wanted it to affect my body and not just hear it, you know?" In this episode Ernie Ball artist and guitarist for influential rock band Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis discusses his influences, his history with playing guitar, and his Ernie Ball strings.

Transcript

J Mascis:
I'm the youngest of four. And my brother always had a lot of records and stuff, so that's how I got into music, through him. Yeah, it was always guitar music that I'd hear around the house and that I gravitated towards.

J Mascis:
Whenever I picked up a guitar I always only wanted to play leads. It seemed hard to play chords. String a few guitar riffs together and that's a song. And just plug in lyrics at the end.

J Mascis:
I remember seeing Ernie Ball strings in the store as a kid. The graphics and the way they wrote all the letters and stuff, it appealed to my more psychedelic side. And they just looked like strings for making rock music, not like violin strings or something.

J Mascis:
I've always kind of kept the same gauge, but my actions gotten higher and higher over the years. I've always had tens, and people always look at my guitar and think it's for slide or they can't play it at all, they don't understand what I'm doing. And I have no explanation except it's somehow easier for me to bend strings, especially playing gigs and you want to put on... I put on new strings every show. So there's no grip to them because there's no dirt on them or anything. So I've always had to make them higher and higher so I could bend them, I guess.

J Mascis:
The air pressure's always been a big part of it for me, because I went from playing drums to playing guitar. And I thought, "This guitar, it's so wimpy. How can I get the same feeling from playing drums?" I just found, by playing a guitar louder, you can get some air moving and it hits your body and impacts you somehow. So I've always worn earplugs since the beginning too, because I wanted it to affect my body and not necessarily just hear it. You know?

J Mascis:
I picked up the guitar just to start a new band. Immediately, I was just writing songs. So whatever I could play, that's what the song would be. I like that kind of beginning, when people are learning, because he can't ever get back to that, because then you get all these ruts in your mind of playing the same kind of things. But when you first start, you can really come up with some interesting things.

J Mascis:
Guitar playing, to me, is my main musical expression these days. Playing leads especially. I really can convey what I'm feeling in that moment. Singing, a lot of times I don't improvise, I'll just sing the same thing and play the same chords. But solos are always different. So they're always me expressing myself at that moment, which is my favorite part of playing.

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