A new series of reissues will unearth some of the earliest
recordings made by J. Mascis and Lou Barlow as they made their way
from the hardcore underground to the, er, indie underground. Among
the releases is a CD containing material by Deep Wound and reissues
of Dinosaur Jr.’s first recordings.
Deep Wound’s roots go back to Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1981
when bassist Scott Helland and guitarist Lou Barlow began to play
together. The duo searched for a drummer, eventually landing J.
Mascis, who brought along a friend, Charles Nakajima, to sing.
The hardcore quartet’s output was limited. The group recorded a
seven-inch, an EP, and some odds and ends singles, two of which
ended up on the 1984 compilation Bands That Could Be God
before splitting that year. A bootlegged collection of Deep Wound
tracks was released in Germany several years ago, but even that
collection has gone out of print. Barlow says he recently stumbled
on a bootlegged Deep Wound seven-inch that was recorded off of one
of the band’s very first recordings. “The packaging is done really
well,” he says. “The inside is really funny: ‘Two of these guys
went on to be in Dinosaur Jr. so they don’t deserve any money. Fuck
Surefire Distribution head Dave Sweetapple, who is overseeing
the project, says the Deep Wound collection will include the
entirety of the material on the German bootleg, the songs from the
seven-inch as well as some previously unreleased live material.
Among Sweetapple’s biggest challenges is finding artwork for the
release. As sparse as the band’s recorded output was, visual
documentation of Deep Wound’s existence is even more rare.
The year of the breakup, Mascis and Barlow formed Dinosaur, and
in 1985 they recorded a self-titled debut. A lawsuit, a name change
(to Dinosaur Jr.), several seven-inches and two LPs on SST
followed. Though the SST records haven’t gone completely out of
print, Mascis bought back the rights to those recordings, and
Surefire also plans to reissue those recordings with bonus tracks.
In addition to Dinosaur (originally released on
Homestead), 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me and 1988’s
Bug, the series will also include 1991’s Fossils,
which collected the eight tracks from the group’s four singles. “We
have much more new material with Dinosaur Jr. than Deep Wound,”
Sweetapple says. “I want to spread some new interest for the
grandfathers of this scene among the indie kids who might not know
who they were.”
A timeframe hasn’t been established, but Sweetapple hopes to
begin issuing the albums starting in the summer, and releasing them
one at a time, rather than saturate the market with a flurry. He’s
also discussed releasing various live bootlegged recordings with
The reissues stop circa 1989. At that point, Mascis and Barlow
weren’t on speaking terms, and their mutual disdain boiled over
with the oft-told tale of the former cracking the latter over the
head with his guitar in the middle of a show. Despite the show’s
legendary status amongst indie rock fans, Barlow says he still
hasn’t tired of it. “If I was a fan of Dinosaur, I would think that
was hilarious,” he says. “I left that band when I was twenty-one.
Now it’s just funny how pathetic we were. The years following that
it was a little painful and I was very angry. But after reading
that book [Michael Azzerad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life,
and realizing how absurd and uptight we were and ultimately how sad
the whole experience was, it’s just much more entertaining to me
now. And it’s really rare that you get to read such an ugly, ugly
story about a band. And I’ve always loved that, when you get to
read just the real dirt on a band that you like. So I’m happy that
I was able in some way to give that to Dinosaur fans.”
Dinosaur Jr. called it quits in 1989, but two years later Mascis
began recording under the name again, without Barlow. Barlow turned
to dual pursuits, Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion. As for Helland,
he formed the Outpatients in the mid-Eighties, a band that lasted
more than a decade before he turned his attention to making albums
of acoustic instrumentals. Nakajima last made ripples fronting
GobbleHoof (along with Mascis), which released an LP and an EP
during Dinosaur Jr.’s two-year hiatus.
“I’m feel really fortunate to have grown up as a hardcore kid,”
Barlow says. “I have so many fucking great old seven-inches. I
still love them to this day. I still love pulling them out. It was
a terrible time for me personally — I was just a nervous kid —
but musically, it was a great influence and a great place to
Both have new winter albums with their respective ensembles.
Barlow and the Folk Implosion will release The New Folk
Implosion on March 4th, and Mascis and his new band, the Fog,
recently released Free So Free.
Surefire Distribution is still looking for anyone with visual
documentation of Deep Wound during their three-year run to complete
packaging for the reissue, which will be released later this year.
Fans with flyers or photographs are being asked to contact the
label at firstname.lastname@example.org.