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Complete Jawbreaker Page: Interviews

1992: No Idea #10

NI: If a gas station attendant asked you what your band sounded like...

B: I'd tell him to shut up and start pumping! I'd tell him to look under the hood and tell me what he saw.

C: Yeah, yeah--trying to get deep now!

B: Don't tell me about deep, I'm not even in the pool. (guffaw) You always ask weird description questions.

A: Don't you mean, "If an alien knocked on your door at four in the morning..."

NI: So what's your story?

B: Well, we all met at school in New York...

NI: ...And you're, of course, from canada.

B: That's right. I'm a singer-songwriter-canadian refugee-rebel-quazi guerilla-sandinista. Adam and I had been playing together in high school, in Los Angeles. We went to college in New York and then we met Chris. We played during school for about a year and then we decided to move to L.A. and try to do it for real. We got a P.O. box in L.A. and that's why everyone thinks we're from L.A.

NI: How'd you record "unfun"?

B: Chris and I would get together in my apartment in N.Y. and figure stuff out. Over our Christmas break we brought it to Adam and in eight days he learned all these songs and we just recorded in and it turned out great.

C: Hey, Adam, look! Little white floaty-things; maybe that's crystallized Hepatitis. You might want to drink some.

B: Find a swimming cockroach. We found a cockroach swimming backstroke in Jacksonville, Florida. He was just Mark Spitz-ing on this pool.

C: Yeah, he chose to be there. He could get out on his own free will, but he wanted to be in the water. "We don't have cockroaches!"

B: We were into it! We were supporting this roach. He was a dope roach. We just hung out with him. We have a picture of Adam's hand and the roach.

A: That was for scale. It looks even bigger in the photo.

NI: What'd you study in school and whataya wanna be when you grow up?

B: I am an English major with a concentration in writing. I don't want to be anything the major would lead to. (laughs) I get good reading lists and stuff. I don't know what the hell I'm going to be. I would like to learn what you're doing--learn how to do t-shirts and layout and stuff. That's the only work I could see myself doing enjoying. My jobs have all sucked.

C: I had a pretty cool job. I fixed pianos for a while. I wanna build guitars. I have no idea what being a Philosophy major with an emphasis on classical text has to do with it...Oh God! I'll probably end up a high school English teacher, "Hi boys and girls!" (laughs)

A: I'm a history major, in answer to your question.

NI: If you were born as a woman, who would you be and why?

C: I think I had this figured out in my apartment in N.Y. at one point. I don't remember what I said.

B: Yeah you do! You'd be Lana Turner (laughs). In "The Postman Always Rings Twice."

C: Oooh, ahgh! Joan of Arc wouldn't be that cool (laughttthsh). I know--I'd be Flannery O'Connor. I don't care if she died of Lupus or not, she was a really cool writer and I like her a lot. Just for the hell of it--just to see what it would be like to be a fucked up Catholic.

B: I was gonna say my mom, so I could have the joy of raising me, watching me develop into the wonderful being that I am. So, there.

A: I'd be Blake's mom, so I'd have open license to kick the living shit out of him every single day.

B: I have a better answer now. I would be Penelope Spearus so I could not make "Decline of Civilization 3" (much laughter).

NI: Would you skip the rights to "decline 3"?

B: At this point, I'm like pure menopausal, I would just throw in the towel and right memoirs and stuff. I wouldn't try and pretend to be an adolescent.

NI: What's the best and worst food you've had on tour?

B: The Country Inn in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

C: Oh man, they fucking shafted us so hard.

B: I got these pancakes...

A: Yeah, it was like "Can I have a little food with my butter?" And it was ten bucks!

C: We didn't even notice. We didn't look at the menu. We were so tired and hungry. Fucking ten dollars! Arrghhhh! It was like, "I better be happy" and then I started feeling sick from it. It was great.

NI: Did you puke?

C: Nah.

A: I should of given it back and asked for my money back. The best food was in Virginia beach. This guy Squicky's mom made us the best meal.

B: That's when we knew he was ours and we had to keep him.

A: They had these special onions in the salad, there weird imported onions that were fried...

C: Vidalia.

B: But getting back to The Country Inn in Myrtle Beach...

C: Arrrgh!

B: ...We ordered a huge bowl of side orders, 'cause we were kinda lacto-vegetarians; we still do butter and stuff like that. So we were getting all these sides--each one was like a buck fifty. We had to eat like five sides each to get a good meal. So everyone spent like eight to ten bucks. We're sitting there scarfing and this guy comes up and starts vacuuming under our table.

C: No, no, one of the waitresses, one of the like 16 year olds, standing at the other end of the room.

B: By the way, that was a guy fervently vacuuming, just blaring noise. The whole place was empty, so there was no need to vacuum. It was so scummy.

NI: Alright, let's hear some horror stories.

A: I got robbed in Rhode Island.

NI: With a gun?

A: No, no, just crack addicts stole my hip belt, but I told that story in another publication. That was pretty horrifying. I had to call up and cancel all my I.D.'s. But now, I don't have to worry about losing my wallet anymore.

NI: Now you don't exist anymore.

B: My brand spankin' new Marshall JCM 900, solid state chunk of shit head broke in Annapolis, Maryland.

C: My t-shirt money went to buying a new one, so now we don't have any t-shirts. That sucks.

B: We're riding on a bummer, but it's cool 'cause the head's covered by warranty. It will work itself out actually. It's just a temporary thing. We're unstoppable.

NI: Well, you broke a string, what, like 20 seconds into the show tonight?

C: No, that was brilliant. I've never done that before. I'm used to breaking strings at least at some point, but during the intro song, "Welcome to Our Band," I've never done that before. I was impressed. At least I would be sure not to break a string later, knock on wood, ummm...

NI: So, whose cat is that anyway?

B: It's my cat, Sammy. We got him this year, my girlfriend and I, from a shelter in New York. He used to be tiny, but now, like most cats, he grew big. That's a picture of Sammy in the later years, the kinda Capone era, where he chunked out a lot.

NI: Are those your real last names?

B: People have doubted before, but they were wrong as well. We were wondering that ourselves. Someone suggested that we should say that we are from the town that Jagrmeister comes from. They're so fucked up you couldn't make them up. You couldn't dream that up. I wouldn't, anyway.

NI: Who was saying that there was some meaning behind your names?

C: Well, we all have meanings behind our names.

A: Mine is, it's a wooden stake; it might be someone who makes or does the job of putting takes in the ground that you hook your boat up to, "Phaler."

C: And "Bauermeister" means "master farmer."

A: And look at those calouses. Like he's not a master corn farmer.

B: My name means "black brook." "Schwartzenbach," does that scare you?

A: Ooooooh.

NI: What is the meaning of life?

C: Don't get any on you.

B: O.K. There are these little hills where you acquire these little pink and baby blue pegs, and you get insurance and lawyers, you can have a car accident, go to college, get a dental plan...

C: Sounds to me like you get in a car accident so it pays for the college. You have to pay off the insurance premiums, and you need to get a good job.

NI: Anything to add to that?

B: I never played that game.

NI: Whose dog was that on the cover?

B: That was mine. His name is Sammy (laughter). No...

A: That dog is named Bowwa and it's a pitbull, it's a nice dog. It's our friend Wade's. He took the photo and we just thanked him...and that's the pool we skated when we lived in L.A.

C: I didn't skate. I can't skate.

A: Chris would watch. Fully clad in a leather jacket, 215 degrees outside.

B: He'd sit on the diving board and hiss at us.

A: Spit on us while we were tile grinding.

B: He would curse at us.

C: Ya have an emory board> (Picking and chewing on a growth on his foot.)

NI: So, what's the fate of that wart gonna be?

C: I wouldn't even call it a wart; I'd call it a mountain.

B: You need a pumice stone. That's volcanic rock.

NI: What's your favorite slang expression?

B: "Rope."

NI: Meaning?

B: Meaning anything that's just like totally fly...Anything that's totally cool.

NI: Where'd you pick that up?

B: I think it's a rap thing, but I don't know. It's a variation on dope, but it's just that much better. It's just rope; it's funny. I use it loosely and a lot. Jawbreaker uses a lot of slang...I mean it can't even be distinguished. Chris speaks proper King's English.

C: I can say things like, "cornucopia" and, "malapropism."

NI: What do you listen to while driving?

B: I tried to bring along a lot of tapes that weren't the type of music we play, but, uh, we never listen to that (laughs). No, we listen to punk rock. There's some things that some of us can't tolerate...

C: I can't stand late Black Flag, and Adam can't stand Killdozer.

NI: So you play both at the same time?

A: Late Black Flag??!!! He's calling 'My War' late Black Flag.

C: Well, it's later than I like 'em.

NI: So why B.M.I. instead of A.S.C.A.P.?

A: That's bullshit. We didn't even do that, did we? Did we even send in our copyright?

B: Nah, not on the L.P. We just bullshitted. I dare anyone to copy one of those songs, 'cause we will personally come to your state or country and K-I-L-L you. I would have no qualms.

A: If someone touches my song, I go off.

C: I'll do something. I'm not quite sure what, but I'll do something.

A: Chris'll do something, alright.

B: I think it'd be funny if someone was to rerelease one, because they read this interview. Some Kentucky bar band or something.

NI: If you could visit any era in history, when would it be and why?

A: I'd stay in Los Angeles. We have it all.

C: Medieval Scotland. Anywhere I could be in a barren waste in a fucking stone tower.

B: I don't know. I haven't travelled enough to know where I'd want to be. But in terms of a period, I would totally like check out the dinosaurs (laughter).

NI: This could be a compilation answer, I guess, but if you could have any three people from any place or time period over to your house, who would they be and what would you talk about?

A: You want us to say like, "Jesus, Hitler, and Ghandi." But I'm gonna say Larry, Moe, and Curley (mucho laughter).

C: Fuck yeah. Brilliant.

NI: And you would discuss...

A: Jesus, Hitler, and Ghandi (laughter to the point of hemhoragging).

C: I can't touch that.

B: I guess I'd want MC Hammer to talk with us about his forthcoming demise.

NI: What swayed you into punk, or whatever, in the first place?

A: My sister, who was older than me, was, umm, right there. Now she's almost thirty. She kinda had stuff going on and then I kinda picked it up that way. I also had a friend, a degenerate friend, who turned me on to Sex Pistols, Ramones, and the Clash. This was when I was in the eighth grade; way after-the-fact. I'm 23 now, so you can figure that out. I wan't an infant.

C: I think it was my sister, who was younger (laughter). I was totally socially incompetent, so it made a lot of sense to find something...because I didn't really belong to anything. That was ninth or tenth grade. I was listening to Depeche Mode before then. Christ! Bbbbllllbbbblblb!

A: See, I listened to what my parents listened to up until I was in seventh or eighth grade. And then it was punk from then on. I went from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones right into it. I guess there was no middle; although I did get into AC/DC.

B: Well, I have sort of an on/off relationship with it. It always comes in waves. I would get into it and then bail. Then get into it again, and then sell all my records. I sold some pretty happenin' collections, some pretty vintage vinyl. But when I lived in Portland, Oregon, I used to take the bus everyday from school, I would take my lunch money and go to this used record store and score a record, 'cause they were $1.99 or $2.50 a piece. I would score a record almost every day, and, sure enough, eventually I picked up some kinda early Clash album. I was into it, but I was always into everything: pop, rock, whatever. I just gradually acquired more punk stuff. Then, when I got into high school, I went to some shows. I was terrified. And then I eventually got up the gumption to buy a really punk record. Y'know, eventually got...sucked in. Being in a band helped a lot. We were in a band in high school, so we thought we were tough. We were total pussies. We played like, gloom rock. We though we were the punkest band in school.

A: And we were.

B: That's pretty true, we were pretty punk. We were punk because (laughs) we sucked! We would play so long. I would solo--I would make Adam and our bassist, Rich, set up a little tapestry for me to work over and I would just do leads for like twenty minutes. Feedback and leads; this big, churning feedback tunnel.

NI: Slow to churning? (lotsa laughter)

B: Slow to mid tempo, churning at times...The band was called RED HARVEST. Named so after the 'Danshell Hammett book.

A: We were fucking great, man. We just don't have any tapes or anything, but basically, it was way before its time (laughs).

B: We had a flag that we made that we put up at our shows. A banner.

A: Spray-painted.

NI: It wasn't knitted or something?

B: Macrame.

NI: What was the first punk shit you heard?

B: I was trying to think of the first stuff I really got into, this was way later. I'd heard plenty of punk stuff. But stuff that I really thought that was my own--I said this somewhere else, but The Big Boys' "Lullabies" record. I really took that to heart. I got off on that record severely. Channel 3, Social Distortion--those sent me.

C: You're talking cool stuff, not the first stuff you heard.

B: No, I'm saying it was the first stuff I was really in to. I can't even remember the first stuff, 'cause it was like '75, '74 (laughs). I'm kidding, of course.

C: This was 1775; he was busy engaged in the Colonial War.

B: The "Busy 7'" was released around then. The first stuff I heard was The Clash. I had a Vipers single, back in Portland.

A: There were those new wave things happening too, at the same time. See, I'm wrong! I'm going back on what I said before. There kinda was a logical progression from that kinda weird shit into punk and then into hardcore. Then into what we play now, which is...LAME!!

B: Slow to mid, churning up-tempo, swinging, punk at times...plus, more reckless abandon. (laughs)

A: And you know who you are, W.G. (laughing)

B: You can run, but you can't hide. The East Bay is not that big. We got him once at Gilman. Cornered him. We were gonna smurf him; then he played nice, so we let him go. Whatever...we're coming. This tour is headed in that direction. Feel the wave, man. We're coming WEST!!

C: The Violators have an oi! song on that "Angels With Dirty Faces" tape...I was trying to listen to that oi! shit recently. I used to listen to it, for an entire year. I was like, "Good God, what the HELL was going through my mind?"

A: (holding the pumice stone) This thing actually drew a little blood!

C: You're getting blood all over the pumice stone??!!

A: That's O.K.; I've got this Jawbox shirt on.

NI: That's a mighty nice shirt.

C: It's a god-like shirt.

A: Jawbox is a good band.

C: I wrote them a psychopathic letter. I praised them. I told them they ruled the wasteland.

NI: If your thoughts were patterned into toilet paper print, what would that pattern be?

A: Why toilet paper? Why not just regular paper?

C: Or wallpaper? If you were toilet paper in a room in the house...that doesn't leave many options.

B: It could be in the kitchen after it just came from themarket. (laughs)

NI: Or you could have it in the living room because you ran out of Kleenex and you're blowing you're nose on it.

A: Or, it could be on the porch, because of the shithole on the porch that most people have, right? You have those here, right? 'Cause at my house...(chuckles)

B: It could be in any room.

C: A nice plaid, perhaps...Bright yellow wallpaper in your bedroom. No, that's not it. I've always wanted to paint a room yellow. I'll think harder now. (insurmountable silence) Hmmm. Some sort of..bog-thing. You know, like when you were drving through the causeway or swamps. And there were all these grey trees sticking out of stagnant water. Cypress growth. Dead, grey trees. Yeah, that's it; a repeated pattern of that on a grey-pink, blue-grey (laughs)...

B: A grey-ish pink. Kinda like a white-ish black.(laughs)

C: Yeah! No! Grey-ish pink or pink-ish black, or pink...white and black and...red mixed together--the most horrifying color.

B: Slow to mid-tempo pink, churnin grey kind?

NI: The reall gross swirled-vinyl kind that's supposed to signify some color, but doesn't quite?

C: Right. Exactly. It would be in the broom closet. (laughter)

B: The nursery...study.

A: Mine would be in my game room. I've got the pool table, a crap table, and a dart board, and a Slip 'n Slide, the swingset.

B: Twister mat.

A: And the ker-plunk. The fireplace. And the money! All that money!!! Oh, the money!! The money that we're making on tour is all gonna be stacked up in the corner. Probably not a pattern with a lot of right angles...something nice, floral, and pretty.

NI: Are you saying your thoughts are florlal?

A: Ohh!! Uhhh...

B: He was just decorating.

A: I dunno.

B: If you could read my mind right now...then you'd know! (laughs) I'm such a fucked up person. It'd look like a big bunch of chicken-scratch and big black blobs. It'd have some sort of strange direction to it...be going somewhere. More or less, meandering, but eventually getting there. But it would be total carnage. Churning to mid-tempo, to be sure!

C: What room?! What room?!

B: It'd go all over the fucking house! It'd start out in the basement and just wind itself up to the attic and return to the basement, go to the kitchen for some food, through the gameroom for some Game Boy...Donkey Kong, Jr. It'd just be heavy. Deep. Rope. A rope pattern.

A: Mine would be scary. Not too linear, or together.

C: (changing the subject all together) We had this rubber animal war when we were in Massachusetts at a Best Western. We had nothing better to do than to have a Dungeons and Dragons-like rubber animal war, using playing cards.

A: It was basically a war game with cards.

C: No, no...you'd pick a card off the top of the deck and then whoever got the lower card got eaten.

A: But there was a lineage to it. There was a history to every animal. It was like D&D; and war. It was quick and painless and funny as hell.

B: It was war and you'd wager an animal. You'd put both animals against each other and then you'd draw the card. The higher card won and the other animal died. It was relegated to a little bone yard where all the dead animals went.

B: We had this pile of dead animals.

C: We still have my entire menagerie of animals floating around the van. I was gluing them to the ceiling, but then I ended up Krazy-Gluing my teeth together instead. I thought you had to bite the cap off. I was freaking.

NI: How'd it come undone?

C: Well, the stuff that got on my tongue came off real fast. Then I had to run in and buy some dental floss at the same place I bought the the Krazy-Glue, but I had to stand in line behind three or four people. I didn't want to use it since I hadn't paid for it yet, and I was trying to pull my teeth apart, but they felt like they were getting glued tighter and tighter together. Four years of orthodontistry was all coming apart in a single moment. It was wonderful. That's the story of the rubber animals and the Krazy-Glue. That's about it...(to Adam) But I beat your ass. You killed everything of mine except this one stupid little dumb spider and he wagered his bat against my spider and I kicked his ass.

A: We know who really won, don't we.

B: That's right. The bat rose from the ashes.

C: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you wanna play that way.

A: O.K. Here's a little story about Chris...We were watching this movie, some movie in one of these hotles we've been staying at, probably the Holiday Inn, in the Elvis Suite. We had a bet: Chris bet against us that this woman in the movie was Karen Allen.

C: I was convinced it was Karen Allen.

A: He said, "There's no doubt in my mind," so we had a bet and the loser had to jump in the murky swamp-pool that was filled 1/4 up with just sludge. But that was too harsh, 'cause we though there might be some risk of...

C: HEPATITIS!!!

A: O.K. And there was another, that was also too harsh, and I said $1000 'cause I was so sure, but that was a little too much, so it got lowered to $10. Plus, the loser had to ride shotgun for 45 minutes fully clad, dressed, shoes, socks, long pants, shirt, inside a sleeping bag. It was a record high outside that day.

B: The middle of July. It was about 100 degrees, a record high in South Carolina. The loser had to ride in it.

A: And he did it! He went through with it!

C: I lost the bet, and I thought it'd be fun.

A: He's very honorable. A man of his word. Aren't you gonna ask us if we're straight edge? Or what about our political beliefs?

C: Only thing I like straight is my whiskey (laughter)

A: I like your questions.

C: Yeah, they're better. Got any more?

NI: Eh, no. Just a little bit of tape left, so...final comments?

B: Var, is this gonna come out at the turn of the century?

NI: Approximately.

B: See, I'm concerned that terms like, "rope" will be really lame by then. The rap turnover rate is astonishing.

NI: We could call you up and give you the publication date.

B: Oh really? Why don't we give you a hotline number. We should create a 976 number, like the New Kids line, but have the Jaw Kids line. We could have a party line with Jawbox. You could ask, "Jay, what kind of strings do you use," or whatever. Consumer tip: Ernie Balls are better than Super Slinkies, if you break strings a lot.

C: You still broke a string tonight.

B: Yeah, but I played a lot before I broke it. And, I was whaling on my strings.

NI: You didn't play "Busy," though.

B: We don't play that. It's an unhuman song. There's singing everywhere on that song, and I don't have that kind of wind. It's exhausting. It's an opus; I think it's better recorded, left alone. Plus, too many people like it, so it's better not to play it. It's just a cheezy pop song.

C: My thoughts exactly. It's one of my least favorites.

A: Now that we never play it, I'm starting to miss it.

B: The thing is, it's a hard song to play 'cause it's long and kind of predictable. We like writing a lot more rocking stuff lately. That's more like a folk song in a hardcore format. Well, it's like 3 o'clock in the morning and we just played a set and everything...so we're totally out of it.


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