In a recent interview with Spin, Dinosaur Jr. frontman and shred wizard J Mascis confirmed long-circulating rumors that Kurt Cobain had asked him to join Nirvana. In fact, Mascis said, it happened twice.
The first instance occurred during a conversation between Mascis, Cobain and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore following a Nirvana show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, on June 13th, 1989 (just two days before they released their debut LP, Bleach). “Kurt said, ‘you should join my band,'” Mascis recalls. “I think he was sick of the guy Jason [Everman] who was in the band at the time, and thought I should play guitar. I didn’t think much about it.”
Mascis says Cobain also considered him for “Sliver,” a song Nirvana released in 1990. “Later, there was also talk of playing drums on a single they were doing, but it ended up being [Mudhoney drummer] Dan Peters.”
Nirvana wasn’t the only group that thought about adding Mascis to its roster. Built to Spill leader Doug Martsch also sought out Mascis to play drums on the group’s 1997 record Perfect From Now. Martsch found himself without a band after singing to Warner Bros., and was considering playing all the instruments with backing on drums from Mascis, who started as a drummer in the western Massachusetts hardcore band Deep Wound.
“He was willing to do it, but then I kinda decided it wouldn’t be a good idea,” Martsch remembers. “I felt like I needed to work with someone who I could really work with a little more, you know? I didn’t know how we could work together, I had no idea and I didn’t want to get started on something like that. I didn’t want to be telling J Mascis what to play on drums. I wanted to find someone I felt comfortable really expressing myself with. But there was a moment where he was almost the drummer on that record.”