It was freezing and we were on our way to see Jawbreaker at Bard college. We were walking from the car to the door of the place where the show was and I was a little ahead of the group because I was freezing and didn't have a jacket. A couple of people walked by me and, being the polite fellow I am, said, "Hello." A Few random grunts came from the passersby and then the one closest to me looked up and said, "Hey." Then it dawned on me, "That's fucking Jawbreaker!" I was just polite to Jawbreaker! Awesome. After they left, me and DavE Thirsty decided that if we got another chance, we should try and get an interview. So, after Blake walked by about 3 times, I got the balls to ask and DavE, our friend Chris (female), and me proceeded to have a rad conversation with him. And the show, well, our friend Steve described it best. "It was glorious!" - Ron
(My tape started recording with DavE and Blake discussing Jawbreaker's last couple of shows)
Blake - But it's kinda weird from a band's perspective, there were 300 people last night, apparently, but it felt like 50. I dunno, but it was cool. It was. It was really fun.
Ron (stutters like a fuckup) - The biggest question probably is the move to DGC...
Blake - The inevitable question.
Ron - Right, how did that come about?
Blake - I've answered this question so many times...
Ron - I'm sure you're sick of it...
DavE - I'm sure Jim Testa has talked to you about this one...
Blake - Actually, he was pretty mellow about it, he didn't bother, he probably knew I was so tired of it. I still don't have a good answer for it. It's like nothing's changed for us. For what we do, but there's a shitload more money being put into it and there's a lot more people working on it, none of which we really see, other than time in the studio.
Ron - I know you worked with Rob Cavallo in the studio of Dookie fame, I'm not a big fan of his work, but did you have a choice in that or was that...
Blake (making Ron look dumb) - We picked him. We pick everything, that's the thing when I say nothing's changed for us because it's our deal because we do whatever we want. There are definitely collaborative elements where we'll say, "Well, ok this is who we want to use." But it's not like asking permission or anything. They'll basically do it unless we were totally insane and said, "Ok we want to use Robbie Shankar and do like a sitar album." That might be an issue, it might get legal with them. But they've been really respectful of us. They're timid almost.
Ron - Did you have any choices besides DGC?
Blake - We had anything we wanted. I'm not saying that we're rad, because any band who one label wants, every label wants them just because the other label wants them. So, the shit doesn't matter at all. Like, bidding wars. Anyone, like you and I could make up a band right now, and generate a buzz. We could get a bidding war going...
DavE - Not with Ron, though... (much laughter)
Blake - It's so commonplace, we just tried to keep it, we just looked at three labels and that was it.
DavE - You made a good choice, as far as output of the album and everything.
Blake - They were definitely the best one.
Ron - It seems that ever since the Helmet bidding war, that underground bands are getting higher and some of the bands that are getting signed are doing an album, getting dropped, like Jawbox, just because they didn't live up to what the label wants.
Blake - I don't think the labels know how to work with a lot of the bands they sign. It's like some of these labels are ludicrous, they have no history of dealing with anything other than mainstream rock. DGC's kinda cool because they've obviously did some semi-risky stuff.
Ron (to DavE) - See? I was defending DGC before...
Blake - They're not any more defensible than any other major. It's the same thing, it's all business. But the people that work there are a little more informed than some other ones because they've been doing that for years. I mean, uh, I dunno
(awkward silence as Ron and/or DavE struggle for another question)
Ron - Tour's been going ok so far?
Blake - Yah, it's good.
Ron - How long have you guys been out?
Blake - About a month.
DavE - Any sites stand out?
Blake - Most the Chicago. I like the Chicago.
DavE - Ben Weasel there?
Blake - He was not there, he's out...
DavE - Right, with the Riverdales...
Ron - Oh, the question for all of our interviewees. How does a guy ask a girl out or tell her that he likes her?
Blake - You're asking me? I never got out on dates. That's how I made a career in suffering. (laughter) Ask anyone that question, I can't get a date to save my life. So, I fucking don't know. You're supposed to ask, but most people are too inhibited, so I'd fall into that category. I don't ask. I wait until evil people come in and pick up on me then I go out with really maniacal characters. That's my M.O. Passive, aggressed upon.
DavE - So what are you doing when you're not doing Jawbreaker?
Blake - Uhm, I like to hang out in my neighborhood. Travel sometimes. Hang out with myself. I don't really have people to hang out with in San Francisco besides my band, and a few friends. (Dave mumbled something about when they were a bi-coastal band)
Ron - Yeah, what sparked the move to San Francisco? I know you guys started in NYU.
Blake - We really couldn't afford to live in NY and be a band. And Adam, our drummer was living in LA. We didn't want to move to LA, so we decided San Francisco was the best of the places we've seen. We had friends in bands there, so...
Ron - Yeah, it's a pretty established scene...
Blake - Yeah, it's interesting. It's a really diverse scene musically. There's every walk of band and I don't think there's a tight knit punk rock community like people assume. It's really fragmented, but I think that's a good thing because everyone's on their own in a way. Healthy.
Chris - You guys have fun making your video?
Blake - I had a terrific time. (laughter) I think we all did actually.
DavE - What's the response been, because I know it's not getting that much air-time.
Blake - Oh, it's not getting any air-time. It's been on like 3 times.
Ron - Yeah, we had to stay up watching 'til like 3AM to see it.
DavE - I guess it's good because it's not being exploited like Green Day's, or did you want that?
Blake - I don't know, what's really bad is that we haven't played that song on tour much and that's the single from our record. (laughter) So the Geffen people at the shows are like, "So I thought you were gonna playing something tonight..." It's only the song we picked to be the video.
Ron - Was it your choice to do it? Or was it in the contract?
Blake - No, we just agreed to do it. And we're looking forward to getting to other songs as singles if we can.
DavE & Ron (in unison) - Accident Prone.
Blake - We couldn't do that first because it's too heavy. But that'll be a fun video to make. Like I was really ambivalent about the whole thing of making videos, but then we talked about it and we found this location. We found this old theater in Oakland. It started getting progressively more interesting and then when I realized that we could paint a room powder blue and make it snow in it, I was like "Yes! I'm totally into this." Like the day we did was really fun.
DavE - Sorry, totally off the subject, but - favorite 80s movie?
Blake - Miami Blues.
DavE (stunned) - Uh, ok.
Blake - and Some Kind of Wonderful.
Chris - Say Anything?
Blake - Yeah, Say Anything, yeah I'm with that. I dunno, it's kind of a tough call. Miami Blues is a little harder edge, but I think the love in that movie is like stronger than most because it's a little more psychotic. Like when it's clicking, it's totally on, but when it's off, it's like fucked. It's like murder.
Ron - Ok, my generic questions - First, what are you listening to in the van?
Blake - Blur. Our sound guy is like a total limey-phile so he's got like Oasis and Blur and Elastica.
Ron - Yeah! I love English pop!
Blake - That's kinda spilling over on us. But it's really mixed up, we have about 100 tapes and we're always starved for something new, so we have to go shopping soon.
Ron - Ok, and who's your favorite Star Wars character?
Blake - Boba Fett. Lurker II: Dark Son of night, the song on the new album, originally had a lot to do with Boba Fett. The title was like a 45 word title that got into... The Dark Son of Night was like a Dark Jedi Warrior of Night and it was like Boba Fett's final challenge issued from the wing of a passing aircraft. It was like a really weird thing. (laughter)
Ron - That's awesome.
DavE - Are we gonna hear Kiss the Bottle tonight?
Blake - Maybe.
Chris - If not, tomorrow?
DavE - This is Chris, by the way. (introduces Chris)
Blake - Hey. Blake (and waves). Yeah, probably at one of those shows tonight or tomorrow.
Ron - Cool, thanks.