Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis does not remember much about making The Golden Age of Glitter, the second LP by his side gig Sweet Apple – “I don’t even know what songs I’m on or anything,” he tells Rolling Stone – but he likes what he’s heard. “I guess it’s just easy,” he says of playing in Sweet Apple. “It’s fun for me to play drums or play a guitar lead and not have to learn any songs or play rhythm. There’s not much pressure. It’s not taxing or anything.”
Part of that is because Mascis says he didn’t “do anything like” songwriting on the record – that duty belongs to his bandmates, who play in the groups Cobra Verde, Death of Samantha and Witch. The Golden Age of Glitter, which officially comes out April 8th,contains 10 caffeinated, power-pop-leaning rockers, some of which are imbued with Mascis’ transcendent guitar playing, and all of which espouse a fun, loose swagger that seems to reflect the members’ longtime friendships. Mascis met frontman John Petkovic in 1986 when Dinosaur Jr. was on tour with Death of Samantha and their paths crossed several times since, along with that of bassist Dave Sweetapple, in Cobra Verde and Mascis’ group the Fog. Adding to the fun, the group invited some of their friends – former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan and Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard – to sing on the album.
Pollard duets with Petkovic on the songs “Under the Liquor Sign” and “Reunion.” As the two singers are part of what Mascis calls “the whole Ohio rock scene, a long lineage,” the collaboration came together when they were having drinks in Petkovic’s hometown, Cleveland. “You know about Bob, he loves to party,” Petkovic says. “He asked what were working on and we got to talking about reunions, since GBV were about to reunite. I said, ‘People who are smug say, “Oh, this band got back together – how silly,”‘ but at the same time they probably had some reunion with their former significant other just three weeks ago. Bob was happy to sing on it.”
Lanegan’s contributions – duets on “Let’s Take the Same Plane” and lead track “Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer),” the latter of which is both Mascis’ and Petkovic’s favorite song on the album – came about in a similar way. When he was in Cleveland, he just agreed to sing on the record. “The good thing about this band is because it’s not a regular band, it’s not like a regular band,” Petkovic says. “It’s almost like a clubhouse. Theoretically we could have anybody do anything, and it would just be fun to do. We don’t have that much riding on it, and when you don’t have that much riding on something, it sort of makes it more fun in a way.”
Like Mascis, Petkovic says the project describes the project as a whole as easy and fun. Because the band members are in different cities he says they don’t fight like other bands – “If I lived close to them, maybe I’d say, ‘Fuck these guys,'” he says with a laugh – they’re able to stay fresh. “I’ve known J for years,” he says. “You don’t really have to sit down and think about it. I know exactly where he’s coming from and he knows where I’m coming from. It’s a lot easier than a lot of projects, because it’s not like there’s too much thought put into this. I know what he can do, and he knows what I do.”
“I played a few songs on drums and I did a little bit of guitar stuff,” Mascis says of his contributions and why he doesn’t remember them specifically. “I’m just not positive about what the final product ended up being.” He did say, however, that he had listened to it. He does know, too, that Petkovic impresses him. “He seems to have an endless supply of songs, which I always find fascinating,” Mascis says. ” He’s got a lot of energy for a guy his age.”
When asked why he likes playing in Sweet Apple, specifically, Mascis says, “There are a lot of practical jokes involved in the whole thing. It’s easy to get John riled up, and then he’ll start yelling a lot. That’s always funny.”
When pressed for a specific example of one of the practical jokes, Mascis pauses and says, “Yeah, I’m drawing a blank right now, sorry.” Then he pauses again, and with a laugh, says, “This whole thing is a practical joke.”