Interview: Murph of Dinosaur Jr
I cant speak for all drummers, but i can speak for myself and that myself speaking would secretly love to have the skill to front a band and shred on guitar.
I did start playing drums at an early age, but spent equal time in front of the mirror with a tennis racket playing sweet Van Halen (Eddie) riffs and dreaming of being a guitar god. I play in a Zeppelin band and worship Page.
This secret guitar god worship was continued in the 90’s when I discovered Dinosaur Jr. In the world of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the angst filled world of grunge threw away guitar solos and traded them in for the punk rock ethic of DIY and anti establishment, especially (Eddie)Van Halen.
For me, Dinosaur Jr (and the grunge era) filled my Van Halen (Eddie) void and added something else to it. The idea that you COULD do it yourself. This was added to by the fact that I thought I could sing better than J. Mascis.
I love J’s vocals for the emotion they communicate (the main job of the vocal), but I think we’d all agree he’s not shooting for Freddie Mercury(who I also thought I was better than. sic.)
SOOOO, the thought of interviewing Murph was a bit of a mystery. It’s no secret that I get a bit goofy when I do these interviews. I totally respect anyone who has the balls to make a career in music.
So, I try to respect the person I’m interviewing with intelligent questions relative to the persons’ place in the world and the band they’re in.
This made Murph a special case in my mind. And his take on his role in the band and as a drummer held great lessons for anyone.
For those of you who don’t know, Dinosaur Jr guitar god J. Mascis is also a drummer (He plays drums in stoner metal band Witch) . And through the history of the band, wrote (and sometimes played) the drum parts in many of their songs.
Through my years of being a fan of this band, I honestly (and regretibly) considered them ” The J. Mascis band” And I don’t think I’m the only one. I looked through a bunch of articles on the band and most of them are slanted to the idea that “it’s J and some side guys” Or J and Lou Barlow (who left the band to form Sebadoh, but reunited with the original line up in 2005) and an drummer named Murph.
My fear was that this observation on mine may offend my guest.
But when you talk to someone about themself and their ideas, you really get a simple truth.
Murph recognizes all of the above. And he handles his position with calm pride.
Watching the band that night I was waiting for “Feel The Pain” which has one of my favorite J Mascis guitar parts. J. played drums on the album version of the song. But I was waiting for the guitar solo. The song has 2 parts which change tempo, and the band played the slow part, real slow. And the fast part, real fast.
And in that moment I forgot about the guitar god and worshipped Murph, who with a simple and cool rework of the tempo, became thebestdrummerintheworld that night.
Here’s a live video for Feel the Pain. They did it cooler at the Fillmore. Just imagine the slow part, twice as slow and the fast part twice as fast, and you’ll worship Murph too. The Interview follows.
Here’s the Interview with Murph: