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Complete Jawbreaker Page: Interviews

1995: Heckler Magazine
By Osama Gataani

Interview with Chris

OG: What is touring like now with Geffen Records backing you up?

CB: It's pretty much the same. The big difference is that we stay in hotels. We've been doing that all along, but this time we didn't have to stick two people in the van, say hide in there, check into the hotel and sneak everyone else into the room. We were actually able to afford rooms for everyone, which is nice because getting to sleep in a bed every night makes a great change in your attitude. You're a lot less grumpy.

OG: As grumpy as you were at the Cattle Club last year? (probably one of the best shows I've seen them play.)

CB: Oh Delirious. Yeah that was the one show that we drove all the way down from Olympia and passed out in the Loft three hours before we went on. That was a fun show, someone had thrown in a gas credit card in the T-shirt cash box the night before, so we got gas with that and made it down until someone realized it was missing the next day.

OG: What did Geffen do that was so different from the the other labels that were trying to sign you before?

CB: We really didn't talk to too many labels, the only ones we talked to were a year ago in Sept. '94. Geffen had approached us and we heard a rumor that other people were interested. Then we decided to actually investigate, so we said, "Let's go shopping", and we set up a bunch of meetings. We only actually looked at four labels; Capitol, Warner Bros., Geffen and I forgot who else. It was a really weird reason that we chose Geffen, it was more like a gut feeling type of thing. More like how we felt that we got along with the people at the company, and who we felt we trusted, which might not be necessarily be a good thing to go by. It was pretty personal, like well I own a lot of Geffen records. You know silly reasons like that. I like a lot of bands on Geffen, so I felt that it would be cool to be on Geffen.

CF: They gave you the freedom that you wanted?

CB: Oh yeah, we wouldn't have signed for anything less than total artistic control. The oddest thing was Geffen was most hesitant on a lot of things on the contract, so we had to do a lot of negotiating, but we would not have signed for anything less than total control. That was the basic premise that we made before coming into this, regardless of what anyone offered us.

OG: What made the production on "Dear You" so much more different than on the other albums?

CB: We were experimenting, I mean this is the first time we've had a big enough budget to do something like that so we tried to go with the whole big deal production thing. We spent weeks just recording, where as before we spent like three days recording and mixing. It was nice to be able to have the luxury of not going, well, how did you do on that one? Well I fucked up once, well that sounds good, let's take that one then. I'm not sure if we're necessarily going to go that same way again or not.

OG: Blake's voice sounds a lot cleaner on this album. Was that intentional or was it just an aspect of the full blown production?

CB: He sang a lot cleaner on this album because he wanted to. It wasn't Geffen going, "Ok guys make it sound like...." It was Blake's choice to sing. He went on his own initiative to record harmony tracks on every song, half of which me and Adam said, "no, no that's a little over the top, why don't we just use one track, maybe back it with itself, you know simplify things a little bit." A lot of people make comments about that, but we weren't forced to do anything. We were like kids playing with new toys.

OG: Has this record been going as well as you expected?

CB: I don't know, we really didn't expect anything, that's like shooting yourself in the foot. We've been trying to let that handle itself. We're more worried about touring and playing than what's going on commercially.

CF: How do you like playing to thousands of people as opposed to hundreds?

CB: It depends, the shows we're going to do in Australia are festival shows called Sommersault. Two of them are like in front of twenty thousand people , one fifteen, and two ten. The largest show we've played so far was like six thousand when we did the opening slots for Nirvana, so this should be interesting. There's pros and cons to both of them, I mean it's fun to play out of a sound system that's big as your apartment. The larger shows, there's a lot less chaos affecting us. The typical chaos that goes with a headlining tour can be really irritating, so the larger shows are really cool when you're on during the first hour of the show, then you can go hang out as opposed to waiting around all night to play.

CF: Do you feel like you lose the intimacy at bigger shows? I've always felt weird having a fifteen foot barrier between me and the band I'm watching.

CB: I think Blake has a real problem with that. I've never really got along well with the audience. I like hanging out and talking to people afterwards, but I become really claustrophobic on stage. At smaller shows when people squeeze there way up on stage, that really aggravates the hell out of me because I really don't move around that much and there's been shows when I'll turn around and there's people surrounding my bass amp and I have to chase them away so I can get to the knobs. It's really annoying sometimes when people fall into me, that aggravates me to no end, but at the same time there's really huge shows when you don't get to talk to anybody and that makes me feel really weird and alienated.

OG: Do you guys still do a lot of the business aspects of the band yourself or does some one else take care of that now?

CB: I do a lot of the of the business stuff and I'm losing my mind on that. Adam does the artwork and Blake does most of the song writing. I've been doing the bookkeeping, but that's getting sort of messy because we had to become legal and above board and all these interesting tax laws that I wish I knew nothing about, so it kind of sucks in that aspect, but we try to keep control of the things ourselves. We do have a business manager which I talk to all the time, but it's pointless to leave all your stuff in someone else's hands. I mean, it's our band and we should always know what's going on. We're really anal retentive control freaks, we want to have a tight finger and hold on what's going on with this band. It would probably be nicer if we were dumb rockers and could say, "Oh sure, ok I'll play that, when do I get my drugs?"

CF: How do you like San Francisco compared to New York?

CB: The last time I was northeast was in the fall and I really miss the fall, but when you're there in the summer it's humid and sweaty. That's one of the reasons we left, it's just non-stop and it really burns you out after a while. I'm getting tired of cities though, I want to move to the country, but that's really unrealistic right now. I'm fine where I'm at, I like my apartment and I like living with my girlfriend and her cat and our roommate. San Francisco is really cool. It's actually a small city, you walk all around there.

Interview with Blake

OG: Are you interested in doing any other kind of writing besides lyrics?

BS: Yeah, I wish I did more. It seems right now everything is pretty much open season. For now, it seems everything I write, I end up trying to grab lyrics from.

OG: Do you start with any kind of particular idea or anything?

BS: Not usually, not for the last three records, it's pretty freelance.

OG: Is there any reason you mention sleep so much in your lyrics?

BS: I'm not conscious of that, but now that you mention it, I am. It's not intentional or anything, but now that you pointed it out, I probably won't write about it anymore. Most lyrics, I write posthumously for certain people. I just write whatever; it's usually in my journal or it's leaping out of my mind. Occasionally, I write with deliberate meaning, but most of the time I'm trying to approximate a feeling. Only after the fact when I read over the lyrics I think, yeah euphistically, this is pretty coherent.

OG: How do you feel about the the type of shows you're playing now?

BS: These radio shows are completely different than what we've done so far. We've only done two so far. Our shows sometimes seem to be the inverse of each other. Like when we play Fireman at a show and everyone gets excited and when we play it at our own shows, people are like whatever. It's funny to me.

OG: Is it weird for your shows like that or does it matter?

BS: It matters, yeah it totally effects us. Every show for us it's different. We go through about 180 degrees of emotions. We could either be a really good live band or the worst live band just as a matter of the way people stare at us, which is kind of lame. I'd rather feel like these are our songs, we wrote them, we like them, we play them,. But instead, we're much more dependant on the crowd and there reaction. Maybe that's just because that's how we came up as a band. You know, always dealing with the audience. So when that's not happening, it's a little stifling.

OG: Every album to me that you guys did always seemed to be progression from the last, but the sound and production on Dear You is so much different. Are you happy the way it worked out?

BS: Yeah, I really like the way it sounds. I think a lot of it is the songs. People go yeah this album is really different. This album was a different process to put together than the last.

OG: Do you think you'll do the same thing with the next album?

BS: I have no idea. Every album for us is different, like you say, progression. But to me, almost every album is a reaction to the last one. We're really self-conscious about the way we work. It's usually like when we've done an album we've made some mistakes on, so the next one we'll try to rectify that so it's like a series of errors in a way. I think definitely we're a better band live traditionally than on record. Sometimes we're happening and I don't think we've gotten there completely on record, but there's moments on this new record where I think I really like what I hear. I think Basilica and Accident Prone are two of the better things we've ever recorded. I like all the songs, but I think I could really listen to those and go, "Yeah, this is where it's supposed to be." We're really moody, I think, and we don't cater to a certain set of ears, it's just whatever happens.

- Osama Gataani


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