Alex: Are the Moons going to be doing an LP?
Adam: It would be a shame not to record everything we have. I just don't know when. It would help if there was an iota of interest in the band.
Alex: Do you talk to Blake or Chris very often?
Adam: Sure. I talk to the both of them. We write and e-mail. I see Blake here whenever he tours through. I don't know what the word on the street is, but we're all on speaking terms.
Alex: What music have you been listening to lately?
Adam: I haven't been keeping too current I'm sorry to say. I listened to the last Engine 88 record obsessively. I've been listening to the Band in the car a lot. In terms of buying records, it's been mostly film soundtracks and vocal standards for the last few years. The Wizard of Oz gets tons of play in the house. It's my daughter Mimi's favorite record. And movie. And book. And lunch box. And poster.
Alex: Congrats on your daughter, by the way, even if I'm almost 2 years late.
When you hear the word "emo," what thoughts pass through your head?
Adam: Nothing. That word conjures absolutely no image for me. I don't know what it means. And I don't want to know.
Alex: That's about the only answer I would have wanted to hear. Moving on...
You own a video store. What type of movies do you like?
Adam: I've learned to not expect too much from movies that were made after 1979 or so. But I love going to the movies. I'll sit through anything just to eat popcorn and get blown away by surround sound. I had a great time at The Matrix.
Alex: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, or Day of the Dead?
Adam: Night of the Living Dead by far. I saw it on tv when I was seven years old. It was on Creature Feature, long past my bed time. I watched it with this kid Jesse Kaye, whose father produced American Hot Wax, I think, incidentally. Shit a brick. That movie is brilliant on so many levels. All the trappings of its ultra low budget -- the black and white filmstock, the handheld camera work, the unknown cast -- just made it more immediate and scary. It's almost like watching an old newsreel or documentary.
Alex: Yeah, Night of the Living Dead is a masterpiece. I watched Day of the Dead recently, too; oddly
enough, I enjoyed it about 100x more than the first time I saw it. You said that you have been listening to a lot of soundtracks. You seem to
know a bit about horror films. Have you heard any of the soundtracks to
European and especially Italian horror flicks, such as Lucio Fulci's
Zombie? Some excellent music in my opinion. The group "the Goblins" are
also supposed to be great.
Adam: I haven't heard the music from Zombie. That reminds me, the Dario Argento films are being reissued on VHS and are letter boxed. We just got Demons 1 & 2, Phenomena (Creepers), Tenebre (Unsane). But the only one I've seen is Suspiria. Creepy. I have heard of the Goblins but I'm not sure I know their work.
Alex: Back to Jawbreaker, there were some rumors floating around that the end of "Big", or
"Parabola" was written by you or Chris, is there any truth to that? Or
were all songs pretty much a collaborative effort?
Adam: We were all involved in the songwriting. The music part was always collaborative. We all threw our two bits in. In terms of the words, Blake wrote the lion's share. But I wrote the words to Parabola and Chris wrote the words to Sleep, P.S. New York is Burning, half of Silver, I think. Don't belittle the rhythm section. We know where you live.
Alex: Chris wrote half of Silver ... is that what you guys called "Like a Secret?"
Adam: Oops, I mean Like a Secret.
Alex: Hmmm....ok. The earliest incarnation of Jawbreaker, named Rise, didn't have Blake on vocals; only guitar. Who was the lead singer of Rise? His name seems to be shrouded in
Adam: Jon Liu, our friend from high school. He was the singer of Magnolia Thunderpussy, a band that came of age in SST-era Los Angeles. Jon was, and I'm sure still is, an amazing writer. I can still remember all of his lyrics.
Alex: What else was on the Rise demo that Shield Your Eyes came from? Any songs
that later became Jawbreaker songs?
Adam: The music in Caroline was a Rise song. Blake changed the words and probably the arrangement was altered. I haven't heard it in ages.
Alex: I know you have sifted through old tapes for a b-sides comp. Do you have a ballpark
estimate of when this might be released? 1 year? 5 years?
Adam: I finally gathered all the original tapes, DATs and quarter inches. Now the task is mastering, editing, sequencing and artwork. I'd say by the end of this year.
Alex: I think you've told me that you're into baseball. Giants or A's?
Alex: What about baseball cards?
Adam: Not that into them, though I bought a factory-sealed set of Topps from last year for posterity.
Alex: You played some shows with Nirvana in late 1993, what was that like?
Adam: Bizarre, exotic, fun. It was all about going along for the circus. We'd never played to that many people. We hadn't been to some of the cities. It was a treat to watch Nirvana up close every night. There was no pressure to get a great response. We weren't in any of the ads, so there was no one there to see us except a handful of people who'd heard. We ended up getting a lot of mail from people who'd never seen us until that tour. A couple of moments stick out: Kurt talking to Blake about his guitar and telling him, "I, too, am left-handed" as if Blake didn't know; Ben Weasel introducing us in Chicago and calling the crowd a bunch of fucking idiots; telling Bobcat Goldthwait I thought Skakes the Clown was a great piece of work. Of course we got into a lot of trouble with the punk rock extremists for selling out and going on that trip. It was rad. We met Kurt.
Alex: Yeah, Bobcat is the greatest. I love Shakes the Clown. Do you have his
Meat Bob LP? That thing's impossible to find.
Adam: I don't. I looked at his show a while back, though. He didn't seem too into it.
Alex: In Dear You-era interviews, Blake always said that the band had control
over everything after the move to Geffen...is that completely true? I
heard that Geffen wanted a more radio friendly song, and Bad Scene and
Oyster were put on the LP as a result; supposedly Blake was quite steamed
as a result of Geffen's pressure. Any truth to these rumors?
Adam: There is rarely any truth to any rumor. The truth is far more mundane. The answer is no. By the time we were through mixing, we didn't care what song they sent to radio. Our attitude was that we were proud of the whoe record and it was their business (stress "their", capital "b") to "find a market" or whatever. Geffen couldn't possibly have persuaded us to write, record and release anything we didn't want to, nor did they try.
Alex: Were those Live at Gilman and Old Glory 7"s completely bootlegged or did
you guys lend a helping hand?
Adam: They were bootlegged. If I had done it, they would have: A) Sounded better. B) Looked better. C) Made money for the band instead of some anonymous fucking parasites.
Alex: What's your favorite bay area venue to play at?
Adam: Bottom of the Hill. It's right down the street and the monitors are good.
Alex: Do you wear earplugs? And do you think you've suffered any hearing loss?
Alex: What do you think about people taping and trading live shows?
Adam: We were warm with people recording and videotaping and taking pictures at our shows, provided they weren't going to be marketed, distributed and sold for profit.
Alex: I have a recording of a 1992 Ireland show where Blake changes the chorus
in Want to "What I want is what I want...I think I want you." Was this a
one time improvisation or was the song rewritten for a brief period?
Adam: We'd tweak songs to amuse ourselves and keep them interesting. They naturally evolved because we played them so often for so long. We'd change the tempo, phrasing, Blake would freestyle words. Sometimes it was agreed on, sometimes it would just happen. That was the cool thing about playing Bivouac. By the end, it was a totally deconstructed free-for-all. Blake would get on the drums and I'd grab his guitar and we'd just go off. God help you if you were out front for those final minutes. But that's what made it fun.
Alex: Cool. I also have a recording of Shirt from late 1994. Why wasn't it recorded for
Adam: It was. We never mixed it, though. Blake thought we should have done it in a different key.
Alex: Do you think it will be released? Were there any other unreleased songs recorded
for Dear You? How about I go all out and ask about the Unfun and Bivouac sessions
Adam: I doubt that version of Shirt will see the light of day. Yes, I have two unreleased songs from Dear You and two from Bivouac. Let's let them be a surprise. I don't want to spoil it.
Alex: Are you into any computer/video games?
Adam: For a while I got into the retro games that were available online. It was a nostalgic thing. Asteroids, Galaga, Frogger, Defender. I have a great book called "Invasion of the Space Invaders" by Brit novelist Martin Amis from 1982. It's a history of video games with an intro by none other than Steven Spielberg. There's a picture of him in his den leaning proudly on his full-scale Missile Command.
Alex: What's your favorite record label?
Adam: I don't have one.
Alex: What's the last book you read?
Adam: A Riot of Our Own -- a Clash bio written by their roadie. It was a quickie pulp read but totally enjoyable. I'm a huge Clash fan.
Alex: What do you think of metal-influenced "Victory-style" hardcore?
Adam: I have no idea what you're referring to.
Alex: What unreleased songs were recorded with Steve Albini?
Adam: Friends Back East, First Step and Boxcar.
Alex: The version of Boxcar on the LP was recorded some months after the rest of the album. What was wrong with the Albini version of Boxcar?
Adam: Nothing, really. We toured the US right after we recorded in Chicago. By the time we got back home we were doing it a bit faster and we thought we could do it tighter. But the quality of Albini's recording is great. Most of the unreleased stuff was not released for good reason. But some of it I really like.
Alex: Did you guys ever get in trouble for using any of the samples on the
albums (most notably the Kerouac bit in Condition Oakland)?
Adam: No, thank God. That Kerouac sample worked so well. It was the first take after we did the song. Blake was in there hitting the pause button on the box when the parts would come up. Kerouac's voice fit right in thematically, but it also worked like an instrument. It syncopates and hits these weird accents. It was incredible. Dumb luck. We couldn't have planned it better.
We sampled a lot. There's a scream from the Warriors buried in Imaginary War. There's dialogue lifted from a Twilight Zone episode in Donatello. Tom Brokaw is all over Eye-5.
It became riskier towards the end. Certainly by the time we signed, it was nearly impossible to get around the bureaucracy of licensing all this shit. The Christopher Walken rant from Annie Hall on Jet Black was our last sample. It cost us 25% of the publishing on that song and it was worth every cent of those eleven dollars.
I co-opted images for artwork all the time, most of which were not public domain. We once got a letter from Walter Matthau's lawyers demanding we destroy the Busy seven inch covers because the photograph from the Bad News Bears showed Mr. Matthau "in a demeaning and, obviously, uncharacteristic situation." He's pictured smoking a cigar, pouring Jim Beam into a Mickey's Big Mouth bottle. We parodied a bunch of pop culture images for shirts: Morton Salt, the New Yorker, Scrabble, etc. I was a little worried when we met the people at Warner Bros. because there's a Philip De Guard background painting from an old Road Runner cartoon right on the cover of 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.
The thing is, we always had great reverence for the things we stole from. Good thing every single item I mentioned is long out of print so there will be no legal ramifications for me divulging these secrets.
Alex: How come the 4F's logo disappeared later on? Were you guys aware of the
meaning of it when you picked it out?
Adam: We stopped using it after Bivouac. It was just an aesthetic thing. We were looking for a graphic to slap on our first seven inch and teeshirt. It looked cool, kind of like the Husker Du symbol, actually. We knew what it meant. We wouldn't have picked something with negative connotations, especially in light of its German, albeit pre-Nazi Germany and pre-Hitler, origins. It means Free, God-fearing, strong-willed, something like that, I forget. A kid in Germany told us it was his high school's phys ed mantra.
We came to tell people it simply meant Jawbreaker. I've seen a bunch of tattoos with that symbol. Blake has it on his leg -- the tall, thin one I modified for one of our shirts.
Alex: Someone recently mentioned on the Jawbreaker mailing list that you guys
had bad experiences with the people in Germany during that tour. Is this
Adam: Germany is the New Jersey of Europe. Every band talks shit about that place. It's as cliche as harping on English food. It has something to do with the fact that because there are so many places to play, bands end up spending like a month there to make the money back for the flights -- cabin fever sets in and you naturally long for the coveted Mediterranean leg. Anyway, we weren't above irrational, mean-spirited hazing. We were probably just taking some digs to rattle Chris, who's German through and through.
Alex: Ok, for my final question...If you were "Weird Al" and planned on parodying a Jawbreaker song, which
one would it be and what would you call it?
Adam: Condition Roquefort was a favorite title of Blake's that never found a home...
Alex: Thanks for letting me do this interview, Adam!
Adam: Thank you, you've been great.