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Complete Jawbreaker Page: Interviews

1995 / 1996: The Gathering - taken from Experimental Thinking
By: Scotty, James, and Brandon from the staff of Experimental Thinking at U.C.S.B.


Yes, the interview you have been wetting your pants for has finally arrived. We had to drudge through endless security and many confused music junkies to even get though the Palace doors. Basically, the staff at "THE PALACE" in L.A. sucked. Really bad. Really really bad. They were a bunch of crap! We should have titled this interview Godzilla vs. Monster Anal. We all came to a popular census to blow the fuck out of the building and everyone in it (except Cybele of DGC..Thank You)! We finally reached our destination and were greeted by the wondrous arms of Jawbreaker. We mainly chatted with Chris Bauermeister, bassist, and were blown away by his Irish kilt as Adam Phaler, drummer, and Blake Schwarzenbach, guitarist and singer, watched on. Now we begin!

ET: Hello, we are here with Chris of Jawbreaker, first question..it seems like some of your albums on vinyl are being re-pressed or more readily available, like the first Shredder compilation, why isn't "Unfun" on vinyl being re-pressed or will it ever again?

CHRIS: No, no, "Unfun" on vinyl is not going to be re-pressed, it's all on CD, he [Shredder management] won't do it because the CD has the original album and the "Whack and Blite" EP 7', he feels there is no sense in re-pressing it because no one is going to re-press the vinyl of "Whack and Blite."

ET: How do you feel about "punk" albums, yours and others, being considered such collector's items or worth so much money?

CHRIS: It's silly, I mean, it's really silly, but anything can become collector's items. In part, we're sort of savvy to it in that we released our first ones [Dear You] in limited edition marbled vinyl. What limited edition? You can only afford to press 500. There, limited edition! But, because we said limited edition marbled vinyl, we knew we'd pick up a certain amount of sales, simply by virtue of that. There's ways to gear towards that. But we also geared against that too: Very Small Records released a 10" compilation called "Make the Collector Nerd Sweat," which was geared towards making Jello Biafra be unable to buy every single, because it was pressed in so many random different colors that he couldn't buy a copy of every single vinyl color.

ET: Is the new album a self-help album for the past, present and future generations, or is there any major theme to it?

CHRIS: I don't think there's a major theme, necessarily. It's just a bunch of songs put together. It depends. Blake writes the songs, and it just happens to be whatever mood he's in or a certain period of time.

ET: Do you personally contribute in the lyric writing?

CHRIS: No, not lyrics. It's all Blake.

ET: Why did you guys move to San Francisco? Any major factors, psycho girlfriends, etc?

CHRIS: It was the one city between the three of us that we could agree upon to live in, because I won't live in Los Angeles, and Adam won't live in New York. San Francisco we all liked. When we finished college, we were like, "Well, where do we go now?"

ET: On the college theme, how would you say your college degrees helped you?

CHRIS: It depends on what you mean, as far as help is concerned. I think I'm very happy that I have my education per se, because there's times when that's all you have going for you. I think it's cool, You really don't have another chance in your life, unless you stay in academia, to spend the time studying and looking into things. Otherwise you're just spending your time fucking waking up, going to work, coming home, eating dinner and going to sleep. It becomes tedious and mundane, and I think that it's just the ability to think, the ability to appreciate literature and whatever else...I mean, I didn't major in history, but now I'm fixated upon reading history books. Adam is a history major, and now he's fixated on film. It changes, I mean, we haven't been in school for five years.

ET: Where do you see Jawbreaker in the future, and would you say the style is consciously changing or is it a natural process?

CHRIS: I think it's a natural process. The reason the albums all sound so different is because we feel differently or act differently at the time. I don't know what exactly we have planned, we really have no apparent plans for the future. We've always just played it by ear. I don't know what's going to happen.

ET: Who submitted the picture of you inside the new album?

CHRIS: That one! I found that one! I found it last Christmas when I was home. I showed to the other guys and they we're like "We MUST put this on the record!" Lots of people are fascinated with it, I think we've counted five or six different flyers that used that photo so far.

ET: How is it touring so much? Tell us some war stories...

CHRIS: We've been touring constantly, I mean, we do one U.S. tour a year, basically, if not two tours altogether, like last year. This year we toured less because we spent the beginning of the year recording.

ET: So you have no social life?

CHRIS: No, no, not really. I have no social life what so ever. I am completely anti-social.

ET: Yeah, I guess touring can be hell?

CHRIS: Of course, actually, we broke up after the first tour in 1990. We went on a ten week tour and hated each other so much we broke up and finished school and started doodling around and figured we had nothing else going and the band was pretty popular so might as well move to San Francisco and see what could make of the band and when that falls apart go on with our lives cause we're not going to have an opportunity to do it at any other part of our lives. But yeah, touring is...crazed..at this point it is what we do. It's fun, but at the same time hectic.

ET: Any side projects?

CHRIS: Not really. When we are home we either practice or sit around. I don't do anything, I sit at home and make dinner with my girlfriend.

ET: What type of venues or crowds do you like playing for more, small or large?

CHRIS: The problem with small venues at this point is that they get too crowded. There are a lot of people who can't come see you, so bigger ones are cooler. The problem lies with the people sometimes....Most of the time people are really friendly and nice but sometimes they take it for granted....We played this one show and these guys were like" Dude, let's party! arghhhh!" and we were like, "What? Excuse me, we don't know you and you are not our friends. Just because you like our music and like to party and like to freak out doesn't mean we are like that, that is your projection"...I'm actually a tedious and grumpy old man.

ET: Are you guys into Fugazi ethics?

CHRIS: Well, we just like to have fun. Do whatever you want to have fun, just don't hurt each other or us. Be mellow about it. Like this show in St. Petersburg, it was just constant stage diving! Everyone was doing it and it was just fun. But don't crash into us..it's a bad idea..we get really angry. It's hard to play when there are people stuck in my bass strings.

ET: I remember at a show at Pitzer College, people were running into Blake and expressed his discontent by saying," this is my space (diagramming a small circle where he was standing), I paid for it, I will kill anyone who intrudes!"

CHRIS: Exactly! Sometimes I'll turn around and I'll be surrounded by people. They even sit on my amp. It's like I get claustrophobic. Right now, my dream is time alone. I love being alone because I'm never alone.

ET: Were there any constraints put on you guys after signing (it had to be asked)?

CHRIS: No, the essential thing with us signing was, unless we have complete artistic control we would not sign. So, we had complete artistic control.

ET: Well, so writing and recording seemed like it went with the natural process?

CHRIS: Exactly, right on!

ET: Last question..we don't want to take too much of your time...but what do you think of when you hear the title "EXPERIMENTAL THINKING"? Describe anything...

CHRIS: Well, of course, it makes perfect sense to me. Just thinking for the sake of thinking. I liked doing that a lot more when I was back in school. But it seems like I can't do that much any more because I've been sitting around, waking up, working, eating dinner, and sleeping for too long. That's the problem..if you like academics, stay in them and keep doing it because the "real world" gets really mundane and pedestrian. You know, this whole thing gets hectic but it's the best job I've had in my entire life.

As the interview came to a close, we conversed a bit about many different topics and also talked about jobs. Chris happened to work at a toy store. He gave us tips on chemistry sets, telling us pure postassium tablets can be used to make things explode and how Barney is such a wimp. He was a very funny guy and is in deed the most animated of the bunch. The entire atmoshere was very comforting, except for the fucking meathead security guards! We got a peek of the set list before the show and boy was it a good one! All their best songs were played in full force, with a few surprise songs thrown in to boot. Guaranteed good time show, see them next time they're around. Over and out!


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