“Day 1, hour 3: Broken down already, but no surprises. At least we’re somewhere else,” one scrawled line reads in Dinosaur Jr.’s 1988 tour diary, a gem included with the signature edition of the band’s forthcoming coffee table book, Dinosaur Jr. by Dinosaur Jr., due this December.
Available only through its website, and limited to 500 autographed copies encased in a clamshell, this special edition — priced at $365 — features exclusive art prints, previously unseen photos from the road and home, and fresh interviews with singer-guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph, as well as former members Mike Johnson and George Berz. A standard hardcover version is also available for the more cost-effective $75.
London-based publisher Rocket 88 Books spent the last year assembling lost fliers, yearbook photos, zine scraps and more for the book, which relies heavily on material captured by photographer Jens Jürgenson and roadie Jon Fetler.
“I’m kinda psyched that we looked good,” Barlow told Rolling Stone. “It’s very superficial, but I’m happy that we were just totally wiry kids with wild hair and cool thrift-store clothes.”
“It’s interesting to see the different perceptions of what went on,” Mascis added. “All of our visions of it seemed really skewed by our own experience, and the outside forces I think helped to bring in the focus a little more.”
Dinosaur Jr. formed in 1984 out of the Massachusetts-based hardcore band Deep Wound, for which Mascis drummed and Barlow played guitar in the spirit of the Circle Jerks and Minor Threat. Their roles later shifted and Dinosaur’s music evolved into a more melodic version of noise-rock, drawing from the Birthday Party and Sonic Youth, the latter with whom Dinosaur partnered for its first tour, in 1986. “We were opening for hands-down the coolest band in the world,” Barlow recalled. “I couldn’t even stand in the same room as them. I was just so in awe.” That two-week run helped Dinosaur Jr. secure a deal with indie label SST Records, home to Hüsker Dü and Minutemen.
Tensions followed the first SST release, You’re Living All Over Me, when a group called the Dinosaurs sued over the name; ongoing internal disputes led to Barlow’s departure a year after the 1988 tour, documented in the coffee table book’s signature package. He later founded Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion and released several albums with both, before rejoining Dinosaur Jr in 2006. The band had made three albums since.
After the band’s tour Dinosaur Jr. will take another break to pursue other projects. “I think we might wait a little while before we make any new music,” Barlow said. “I’m thinking that we could be looking at, like, at least a year off. We’ll see. We’ve been working really, really hard for a long time now.”
Next up for Mascis: writing songs for a solo record once Dinosaur Jr. finishes touring in November, while Sebadoh will release Defend Yourself, its first album in 14 years this week. “We’re gonna tour the shit out of it,” Barlow said of his new record. “And hopefully we can make a dent and I can make it financially to the next round of Dinosaur touring.”