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Complete Jawbreaker Page: Interviews

23 Sep. 1992; printed May 1993: Maximum Rock'n'Roll #120

Jawbreaker toured for the first time in Europe in Autumn 92. They played three gigs in France, a good opportunity to meet them, to ask them about their feelings and to get some news from that great band made up of great guys. Interview done with Blake and Adam in Lille (September 23th) before the gig, conducted by Le Bouffon.

MRR: What happened between 'Unfun' and 'Chesterfield King'?

B: Well, we finished school. Chris and I finished school in New York and Adam finished school in Los Angelas. We broke up for a little while after the tour and just did school and lived our life free of punk rock. And then we moved to San Franscisco, all together wrote songs and that was it: recorded. So now, we are living in S.F.

MRR: Did you choose to move to S.F. only for the music or...?

B: No, we liked the city. We've been there. We've toured through there before. We had a lot of friends who happened to be in bands also. It's pretty conducive to everything. So it's a nice place to live. There are a lot of bands- there's a million bands. So, if you are smart and you are in a band, you wouldn't move there because everyone wants to play all the time. But it's worth it! You wanna know about my throat? I have a giant callous on my vocal chords which prevents me from singing, so we're gonna drive directly after the show tonight. We're gonna take the boat straight to London and see a doctor and hopefully schedule surgery for a week from today so that we can finish this tour. So don't be dissappointed tonight if the vocals sound really bad.

MRR: How long is the European tour?

B: Seven weeks.

MRR: And you started it in the States?

B: Yeah, we toured for about a week, in the states, very quickly, just to come across to NY and we flew out of NY and started here. We've been to Holland, Germany, Switizerland, Spain, and France once before.

MRR: Is it the first time you came to Europe on a tour?

B: Yeah.

MRR: What do you think of it?

B: I think it's great! I wish I could sing more. There are certain songs we can't even play because I can't even get near to the notes, so it's limiting our repertoire but aside from the band it's amazing. I love everything I've seen.

MRR: Doesn't it go too fast?

B: Well, I'm kinda of an insomniac. So I wake up early. So I walk around. We have days off, 5 or 6 days off. It's very busy. It's really hectic. You can't help it. But even gas stations are valid culture. It's true! You can tell about a lot of places thanks to their gas stations. A: We didn't hit a lot of tourist attractions but we've been able to see a lot about the HC underground, squats. We had a couple of fiestas in Spain. Amazing! Some carnivals, where everyone is going crazy, little kids drinking beer, it was pretty amazing! Christy asked if we wanted to play every night. I said "No way!", we're gonna need days off. So we've been hanging out a little bit. Like today, I walked to that carnival over there took pictures. It's really cool.

MRR: Is it different from what you imagined it would be before coming here?

B: Actually it isn't.

A: Everyone told me that the food was gonna be terrible in Germany, England and everywhere but so far the food's been really good.

B: There is a lot of difference in how people treat the bands. Everyone says this but it's true. People constantly feed you and give you places to stay. In the States that never happens. I mean, you just show up, you play, and then you gotta ask people in the show if anyone has a floor we can sleep on. And you go out and buy food for yourself. So it's pretty amazing when you get here and you get to a show and there is cheese and bread. It's really good.

MRR: Back to the records now...

A: I was going to say something. The time between 'Unfun,' and "Chesterfield King' when they were in NY and I was in LA, I was sort of keeping the home base: Getting the mail, PO box and stuff. I was getting a lot of letters from people saying "Can you send us Demo #1 or Demo #2?" and at the same time I was talking to a bunch of people that were putting out 7"'s. So, therefore, in that amount of time we put out a lot of our demo stuff on records, like 'Brouhaha' or the Jawbox thing. So a lot of that stuff came out cause I knew that we were gonna be together and play again, but we weren't taking care of business. So basically, everything from the demo, in one way or another, has been put out on vinyl. That's what was going on.

MRR: How did you organize yourself to practice when some of you were in NY and Adam in la?

B: We really didn't. Unless when we recorded the album, we flew out to LA. I was going home anyway cause I was living there for a time. My father lives there so I was going home for X-mas break and Chris just flew out. We taught him the songs in a week. When we toured, Adam flew out to NY.

A: Chris and Blake came out to record and they taught me really fast and we did it like that. And I was going out there on my breaks, too...like on the Spring Break. I went to NY and we played a couple of shows. This is why we decided to get back together. So the songs were different then from what they are now cause the three of us get to practice and work through the songs like the way they are supposed to be written. Instead of one person doing it and teaching another one.

MRR: So it changed a lot of things to be together?

A: I think we write a lot more songs now. Therefore, we drop a lot more songs. Hopefully, the stuff we're putting out is the best we've come up with. Just a lot better from one person doing it. Blake wrote 10 songs for 'Unfun'. It's easier now to write.

MRR: What do you enjoy more: to be on stage on tour or to practice and record in the studio?

B: Well, I've got a lot going on at home now. Right now, I'd prefer to be there! But it's kinda silly to regret being in Europe. It's great, I love it, it's hard to say NO to it. And I'd be an asshole saying "Gosh, I have to go to Europe. What a shame." I can't complain about it. But, at the same time, there are a lot of good things going on in our city. I really want to get ready to record our next album, 'cause we have an album worth of new stuff-- the album about to come out, 'Bivouac' was recorded almost a year ago and so it's already old to us. So I want to find a good studio and start to work hard on the next album.

MRR: What does it change being on a bigger label than before?

B: Not much other than got a better budget to recored with. We didn't have to pay for any of the recording this time. So that helped a lot. I guess we have to wait for the record to come out to be sure the distribution will be more far reaching and get throughtout Europe.

A: Communion has a distribution center in Revolver/ England. So hopefully a lot more people over here will get it for less money than they had to pay for 'Unfun' or whatever. You know, it's basically like o one person label. Garl owns the label and he's got a couple of people doing phone stuff, working in the warehouse because there's a bunch of labels in the same place like Boner, Tupelo, Communion, all those and he's distributing for other labels too. He's not exactly like a recored monotype guy. He's really cool and plays in a band himself.

MRR: You are already working on something to follow-up the new Album?

B: We have 10 new songs right now. We have more than enough for an album. So I'd like to record them before I get sick of these songs, too, and start writing new songs. I guess the band only seems valid to me as long as we are writing new songs. A lot of people get frustrated because we don't play a lot of old songs, which I understand, but at the same time, some of those songs are three years old to all of us. So you can only play so many songs before it doesn't mean anything. I'd rather not play it than play it and have it be meaningless to me cause I'll play it badly. I won't play with any enthusiasm. So I'm doing the kids a favor, they just don't realize it.

A: Since' Bivouac, hasn't even come out yet, a lot of people only know us from 'Unfun' and those 7"s we put out. A lot of people shout like "Oh play Busy" and this and that. So it's like " Sorry, we can't play that...". It's funny because it's been so long since we recorded 'Bivouac' that it's not part of our set anymore. The newest stuff that we haven't even recorded yet is basically what we're playing over here.

MRR: IS It difficult to have such a long time delay between recording and touring?

A: We didn't know it was going to take a year. We were really suprised...things were happening over at the label company, people were going over to Europe and stuff and it took us awhile to get all the art together. Then he delayed it a little to get rid of the 12"s because there were too many songs on one record. Then we figured we'd split it and put all the songs on CD, we'd do a vinyl EP and a vinyl 12" so that people that don't buy CD's can get everything too. Yeah, he was pretty embarassed that it's taking this long. So next time it'll probably be a lot faster. I mean we are going to get home and do it really quick: Just bang it out and get it out in a couple of months, hopefully. B: But it's hard to wait, too because we know these songs. We've already recorded them. we're like " You should know these songs" and people are just looking at us like "Who's this band? This isn't Jawbreaker!". Everyone is always saying also "When is the new album coming out? It was advertised in MRR for August!". We can't really do anything about it. It's kind of strange touring Europe with a new album that isn't even out yet. It would be nice to sell records, too, but we don't have any records to sell, so just T-shirts!

MRR: How did you organize the tour?

B: Christy Colcord. She did the Mr. T Experience tour, Green Day, parts of Econochrist and parts of Born Against. She lives in London and she pretty much set the whole thing up. She drives the van.

MRR: And the tour was not scheduled to coincide with the new record?

B: Well. it was suppose to be. We were supposed to have the record here and we were supposed to promote the record, but things got delayed. So we're doing an 'advanced' promotion for the record and to stir up a bit of interest.

A: We are toruing without a record essentially.

B: It's kind of like Spinal Tap, also like my guitar is breaking in half.

A: Yeah, his guitar is breaking in half, we got robbed in Lyon, and I broke my kick pedal in half and I can't find a replacement. We've had a lot of technical difficulty. But that's not stopping us!

B: And until today, our bassist was going through nicotine withdrawl and all of his chewing tobacco was stolen in Lyon. He can't cigarettes because he has lung damage so that's just another thing.

A: He chews tobacco like a fucking cowboy. Like a baseball player...you know what I mean? Big brown shit coming out of his mouth. He's a strange kid. He's asleep right now in the van.

MRR: And are you gonna have some good souvenirs in coming back home?

B: We stole beer steins in Germany, the big glasses. That's a sovenir!

A: Most of the souvenirs that we get are free because we steal them.. but they are usually edible or drinkable. We steal a lot of food. Not from people but from gas stations...

B: We are on a really tight budget, though, so we can't really shop for anything but food. Like with the money we're getting from the shows, we give ourselves a small daily allowance in the hopes that we save some money because we don't have an apartment right now. We had to give up our apartment. I quit my job to go on tour. So hopefully we'll have a little something when we get back to set up again.

MRR: What's your occupation aside from music?

B: I was a librarian for the past year in a library in San Francisco. I would just check out books to people, work the circulationn desk. It's a good job, lots of reading time.

A: I worked at a research company and Chris sells toys. He works in a toy store. It's perfect for him. I mean, just look at the guy! He's really into it, except he doesn't like kids, that's the only problem.

MRR: Is it easier in the U.S. to quit and find a job again?

B: Not now since there is a pretty major recession going on. The job market is pretty competitive and slim. If you don't mind doing really hard labor. I know a few tricks. When we first moved to San Francisco I worked for a moving company and they always hire. The work is pretty bad and pretty dangerous. You can hurt your back and the company doesn't give a shit about it's employees. But if you got nothing to do and you really need money. You can make really good money there. So I'll probably be moving for a while when I get back.

A: It's really hard. We know a lot of people that are sort of our age with a degree from a university and they're working shit jobs. They're working in coffee shops...bartenders. If they're lucky they'll get those kind of jobs. So it's pretty fucked. But they told me I could have my job back when I got back. But I don't know if I want to go back to that job though. It's hard. It took me a long time to find a job. I did a whole bunch a little things for a while, but the job market is really tough.

MRR: Is the situation in the U.S. getting worse and worse?

B: It seems like it's been on a downhill slide for about 200 years since the country was founded! I mean I've been seeking employment for a few years now. I was pretty much covered by my parents when I was in school or worked part-time, maybe. Since I've been looking for jobs, it's been very difficult all around. And yeah I have a degree from a good college, a good university, but I can't seem to escape manual labor. It's alright. Sometimes I like that. It's good to be physical, in a way, but it can drive you crazy too. I did carpentry for a while, getting up at 6:00, working until your dead in the bush. It can drive you nuts and it doesn't leave a lot of time to be creative. You have to work. All you want to do is sit down and go to sleep. So it makes it really hard to write songs andd do that kind of thing. We don't make money off this band obviously. Like me never made anything considerable in royalities from records or tours. Now that everything is coming out on Cd's, all formats, we might get a little money-- which will help! But befinitely it's necessary that we all work.

MRR: What do you think of the European unification?

B: I think you have to ask us that one when we finsih our tour. When we've seen all of it or a larger part of it. I'm still just completely in shock just being here. I'm still looking at everything. France is tough though! France is the hardest country we've been in in terms of being searched. We were searched, they had us get out of the vanm, and they went through everything, I guess because we looked suspicious. The tolls are really expensive on the freeways and things like that. It's harder to be a touring band here-in this country particular.

MRR:Maybe that's why American bands are rare here.

B: I know from Christy's perspective, it's really hard to break even going through France. You can't avoid it beacause it's the biggest country. But it's so expensive just to drive between shows that it makes it really hard. She tries to book as few shows here as she can, just because of the money.

MRR: Now we've come to a point that we're afraid that France has a bad reputation out of Europe because less and less bands come here to play.

B: Actually the shows we've had here I've really enjoyed. The one in Lyon, except for the fact that we were ripped off, I mean that was terrible, but in terms of crowd and the way the show was done was really good. And last night was good and they just gave us a huge meal. It seems really cool! So, I don't have any complaints."

The End.


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