On a recent mini-tour Jawbreaker broke down in Newburyport, Massachusetts- a town comprised almost entirely of Morticians and Undertakers. Shows were missed, money was lost, feeling were hurt. The van spent two days up on blocks, as the tiny band grieved patiently by her side. A local statue of a solitary seaman seemed to say more in its inscription than the band could say in this whole stupid interview: "They that go down to the sea in ships." What follows is an interview conducted by the band, with the band.
MRR: OKAY ADAM, AS A PERCUSSIONIST, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LAMBADA?
ADAM: (laughter) I got nothing on Lambada and it's got nothing on me.
MRR: BLAKE, DO VOCALS KEEP YOU FROM GOING OFF ON GUITAR?
BLAKE: Yeah at times they do. There's things that I would like to concentrate on more--sometimes I think a second guitarist would be a really cool thing because there's certain melody lines that just take two. We were listening to SAMIAM today, just before the accident, and I was feeling kinda small--they really combine guitars nicely. But then the van blew up and--well, that's like question number thirteen, so...
CHRIS: No, that's question number one for me.
BLAKE: Okay, well one man's one might be another man's thirteen.
MRR: WHY IS THE ALBUM CALLED UNFUN AND WHERE IS YOUR VAN AND WHERE IS YOUR EQUIPMENT AND WHAT HAPPENED TO IT ALL?
ADAM: Why UNFUN? Because it was there. Because it feels so good when I stop.
CHRIS: No, we just have shit luck. We seem to be building up litanies of disaster. Unfortunatley it's getting worse each time. One band's breaking point is basically our day-to-day.
BLAKE: That's where we begin. I think it all ties into SOUP somehow. Tomorrow will be very worse...no, that's not it. Much worse. See, we're even having tongue collisions here. And if anyone out there think's they've hit the bottom, then you've just hit like the top of some nethercavern, underwater cavern, that goes a few miles deeper. There's no bottom in sight so don't look for one. Enjoy the fall, it may be all you've got.
MRR: GETTING BACK TO THE UN-STRUCTURE, CHRIS, WHAT IS THE BALANCE OF
POWER BETWEEN BASS AND VAN AND DO THE TWO FORM SOMETHING GREATER?
CHRIS: Well the bass actually gives me fewer problems than the van because it has fewer moving parts. I'd say that between the bass and the van most of my time is spent pouring money into one and energy into the other. Soul into both. That's why when the van conked out today I just woke up from a deep sleep and was willing to nurse it back to health. I tried to fix it. I tried. I took it apart, I ripped down the wheel, I put everything back together that I could, but I failed.
MRR: ADAM, HOW DO YOU DO IT?
ADAM: I honestly don't know.
ADAM: That's a little broad. It's more like why do I do it.
MRR: SO WHY DO YOU DO IT...WHY ARE YOU IN A BAND?
ADAM: I've always been in a band. I mean ever since I've been playing. You can't play drums alone, well you can if you're good enough. It makes me feel good.
CHRIS: It makes sense. It gives me an excuse to be where I am. In a band
you get to meet people--you meet the people. You have a purpose. To
fulfill my social inadequacy in part. It's my bliss. It's wonderful, I
just lose myself in a wall of sound.
BLAKE: Yeah, that. It's the best and the worst simultaneously. It's like a whole different school of misery but it's fucking great. I don't know, what can I tell ya, chaca? I think everyone should get in a band to answer this question for themselves.
ADAM: It seems a logical progression--if you're into music then why not start playing it? I don't know why there aren't more bands out there.
BLAKE: Also there is great opportunity for expression now. The world seems to be suffereing in part from a lack of communication. There's a lot of well-meaning people who are out of touch with each other. They keep hammering at it but they may quit eventtually, just fed up because they're not getting any response or reciprocation from anyone else. In a small way a band can put you in touch with the national community, or a state community, or whatever. At any level, it helps.
MRR: POLITICS? YOUR LYRICS SEEM MORE PERSONAL, ARE THERE SPECIFIC THINGS YOU'RE TRYING TO GET AT AS A BAND?
BLAKE: Okay, "the politics question," one that has long been put to Jawbreaker. I wouldn't feel comfortable telling anyone where they should come from politically. I think with all of us it's pretty far left, even though we may not necessarily sing about that directly. There's two halves--one musical and one ideological--and I wouldn't want to sell one short for the other, either way. If you can strike a complementary relationship up between the two, where one half enhances the other then your happening. Those are my favorite bands.
MRR: IN ONE HUNDRED WORDS OR LESS, TO WHAT EXTENT HAVE YOU SUFFERED TODAY?
CHRIS: The dull thudding noise the van was making me really hurt, but then I was so numb from two hours of sleep that I wasn't feeling so much. It just gets better. It just gets better...
BLAKE: As it gets worse.
ADAM: I just flew out here to do these shows and I just consider myself lucky breaking down in Massachusetts and having to walk four miles to a fucking hotel and, you know, cable. My feet hurt, I got blisters-- you know, all my callouses went away when we took time off for school, and now I'm bleeding from all my endings. I don't give a shit--you know, it's great. If this is bad as it's gonna get then I'm into it.
BLAKE: Never say die...because you might. This is dedicated to Waterville, Maine because that's the show we missed today. Don't hate us, we're automotive idiots.
MRR: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF SHOW TO PLAY OR BE AT?
CHRIS: I used to just like hardcore shows, but just the other night we played with BLAKE BABIES, who are totally pop, and i really got into it. I like it loud with distorted gutiar, loud, pretty noise, I don't know...
ADAM: I use to like shows where you go and you don't know anyone, and it just scares the shit out of you how good it is and how hard it is. You get that thump in your chest and stomach, that's always good...
CHRIS: Yeah, when you're seeing a band you've never heard before and it just makes you go. When you catch a groove.
BLAKE: When you're feeling scared shitless and you're hiding in the darkest corner of the hall or whatever and you're convinced that evryone at the show is gonna come and ratpack you...and then the singer for the band, or someone in it, says something really off the wall and assinine and humorous and it just lightens the whole mood and you have this powerful comedic identity with them and you don't feel so isolated.
CHRIS: When they make you dance and make a complete fool of yourself, even though you were totally neurotic and freaked out by all the people, you just get swept up in it.
MRR: HOW ABOUT SHOWS YOU PLAY?
ADAM: Well the kind of shows I like to play a lot of bands don't like. It doesn't really matter to me how many people are there, as long as there's good energy. There was real good energy last night although there weren't that many people.
BLAKE: Try fifteen.
CHRIS: Yeah, the Anthrax...
ADAM: I really liked the response.
MRR: WHAT WAS THE MEANEST THING SOMEONE DID TO YOU AS A CHILD?
CHRIS: The entire second grade class chased me though the woods with sticks, all the guys. And I was shouting "Leave me alone!" And I was saved by a third grader with a rock. But I may have deserved it because I was a little wise-ass prick at the time. I was getting better grades and I made sure everyone knew it.
ADAM: John Ritter
BLAKE: In pre-school, at the workbench. I was sitting across from my friend and I said something that must have really pissed him off. So he reached over, he had one of those scaled down metal hammers with a metal head, and he cracked me one really hard on the skull. There was blood all over the table, all over me. I had to get taken away. That's why I'm punk.
MRR: IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIGN WITH A MAJOR LABEL WOULD YOU ACCEPT?
BLAKE: No, because the indie-scene is so fucking major right now, you don't need to. All the majors are sweating right now, trying to pick up on the alternative thing. That's the only reason we'd even have an opportunity--because the indies are kicking major ass. Once Neil Young signs to Shredder no one need associate with a major again. The Shredder singels club. But seriously, when you can massive distibution at a grassroots level, then something must be good. If our silly 7" can go all over and we can get cool mail in foreign languages. When we get mail in Sawhili we don't even translate it--we just enlarge it and screen posters and trip on it. It's such a cool thing. We read it emotionally.
ADAM: It will never happen.
CHRIS: I'd like to be able to just do music, so I don't have to work at Scary Tofu and have fucker swearing at me because I didn't fix the tabouli right.
MRR: BONUS QUESTION: WHAT'S IN A NAME?
CHRIS: Well Jawbreaker was an accident in some ways. It just appeared magically on a list of names we were considering and we took it. I think a band name gets to mean more as you get to know the band.
ADAM: What's in a name? Well, not much. A name for a band is like a marker so when you're flipping through you know where to go. I think people may get the wrong idea from the name Jawbreaker, but we could be the fucking yellow pages.
BLAKE: It's true, it's like an index. Contrary to the Newburyport opinion that punk is dead--I stopped someone in town tonight and said "Hey, do you know if there's any shows around here? We're trapped and want to play." And he said, "What kind of shows?" And I said, "Punk." And he looked at me, real hard and said "I got news, pal, punks been dead for years" and then went on to tell me about Patriot records! And I said, "Okay bye-bye." I don't live in this country I'm just staying here awhile. So Choke on that.
ADAM: A straight-edge is what I find myself using at the Copymat when I'm doing layout for the inserts and covers.
CHRIS: When I first got into this stuff, I did some really stupid shit--I thought I wanted to be a skinhead. Oh great, now we are gonnna get jacked the next time we play up in New York. It does serve a purpose, but it seems like no one's thinking. It's like a club, a conformist non-conformity. Too dogmatic.
ADAM: Do whatever you want. Be straight, just don't touch me. You know, I'm not a big boozer, I don't take drugs, I just watch a lot of TV.
BLAKE: It's like, who're you? I'm me, you're not. And I like it that way. I don't want to be you. And I don't want to do what you do. We're nice guys, people like us. We never fucked with anybody. Ever. We suffer, that's our thing. We suffer year around. If you can't handle it, that we are in pain, forget it. It's personal. This music is a product of pain.
MRR; WHAT DO YOU THINK OF VALLERI BERTINELLI?
ADAM: I'm real happy for her. I'm glad Eddie's getting his thing together. It's a whole thing. "Won't you take it like it is, one day at a time..." (Adam does violent rendition of theme.)
BLAKE: I'd rather talk about Alyssa Milano. We read her biography over at Woodhaven apartments in Storrs, Connecticut. It was ghost-written by a wonderful author who also did the Kirk Cameron story. You've got to ask yourself, who's the boss?
MRR: WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE BAND THAT YOU'VE PLAYED WITH AND WHAT'S THE WORST SHOW/TOUR YOU'VE DONE?
BLAKE: Yeah, we're really into every band we play with in some sort of fucked up way. Any band who works hard deserves something. Every show we've played has some personality of its own. As bad as they get. With Samiam it was funny--San Jose, us and them, a DJ, and like five drunks and a couple of good friends. Anyone else's nightmare, but for all of us it was great. I think even the drunks had a good time.
MRR: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TOGETHER?
ADAM: I'm NOT together.
BLAKE: In this line-up for a year.
MRR: WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT PLAYING?
ADAM: Think about laying, practice. Stress on artwork. I go to school at UCLA.
BLAKE: I've been on the phone for the last two months. I'm booking our tour for this summer. Everyday I look at my homework, I LOOK at it, and I look at the assignment, and it says "Paper due...NOW. Twenty five pages." And then I go over and pick up the phone and I call Tennessee and I say, "Hey, what's happening? Looks like we're going to have a really good show this summer."
CHRIS: I do school too. I'm just trying to get out right now. I do the van. I'm in charge of the Bauer-Buss. My bass' name is Bad Karma Lover.
ADAM: Double-benefit for accidental death.
BLAKE: No salesman will vist you.
Jawbreaker has a new lp, UNFUN, coming in May on Shredder records. Write for info on our fine line of 7" records and discount food. The tour starts in June-East to West. Write! ( or yell real loud) JAWBREAKER/PO BOX 480321/LOS ANGELES, CA 90048"