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Jabreaker Week: Day 4 – The Jawbreaker Break-up

Jawbreaker Week, Day 4 is a unique moment in Jawbreaker history, as it traces the band’s activity from break-up to 2016-early 2017 when Ronen Givony was interviewing a then-still broken up band. Below, read Givony’s interview with the band and get their first-hand account of the 1996 break-up, through to their recent reunion. Read more in Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Theory, out today! 


The first draft of my 24 Hour Revenge Therapy book had a long concluding chapter that traced the lives and musical careers of the band from their break-up in 1996 to the present day. On April 21, 2017, this chapter became immediately (and happily) obsolete, when Jawbreaker announced they were reuniting to play their first show in two decades. 

***

“Within a month, I was working at the toy shop,” Chris recalled. “I had been on tour, playing in front of thousands of people. And here I was, working as a toy shop clerk. I was devastated.”[i]

 

“After the band broke up I slept for a month,” Adam said. “There was never a day where I woke up and thought, ‘OK, I’m warm with this now.’ I felt horrible. There were a lot of questions. I think we all wondered, ‘What happens next?'”[ii]

 

On the 4th of July, they made the news official: just shy of its tenth birthday, Jawbreaker was no longer. Blake had just turned 29; Adam and Chris would soon be 30. In an interview, Blake expresses discomfort with the gentrification rapidly altering the city that inspired so many songs just a few years earlier:

 

“I feel really uncomfortable about living in [the Mission], more so now than I did when we first moved there four or five years ago, because of that new element. We all moved from New York, and Adam moved from L.A. onto Sycamore Street, a really damaged street. Our building sucked. It was filled with junkies and we were right in the chaos. I don’t want to say it was back when it was hard and it meant something, because there was plenty of hipster culture flourishing on Valencia, but it seemed kinda real at that point. People who were in bands seemed much more supportive and kinda artistic. Now, fashion is just so established and easy and off-the-rack, I can’t tell who’s down with everything and who just looks perfect. All those people look perfect to me and I find that kinda crippling, so I walk around and feel like a total loser. It freaks me out, like I’m not excited about coming home a lot of times on tour. I always get out of the neighborhood anyway, like I go to the Marina. People [there] are normal. I mean I find them way weirder like all these normies. I don’t hang out there, but I ride my bike over there for something to do, look at the water. I’ll go to any other neighborhood.”

 

In their accounts of the breakup and the months preceding, there is more than a hint of Marlon Brando’s wistful character Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, who insisted, “I coulda been a contender”:

 

Blake: I felt like Jawbreaker had to end—we broke up for very clear reasons—but toward the end, I would see moments of recognition [for Dear You]. People were excited when we played certain songs off of the record. I don’t know…Sometimes I think it could have happened—it could have caught on.”[iii]

 

Adam: We did Europe a couple of times. We got on good tours with Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys. And Pavement and Beck and Rancid and Bikini Kill. But I don’t even think we even played that many shows. We never went to Japan. The only big festival we ever did was the one in Australia. Other than that it was us on our own, just kind of grinding it out.”[iv]

 

Chris: For the better part of ten years we were doing nothing but Jawbreaker and, yes, that’s going to change you. Maybe Jawbreaker had made us into something that was breaking the band up. There was something sort of sick and surreal about what happened on tour. It made us do strange things. But was that Jawbreaker’s fault? I don’t know. That was the nature of Jawbreaker. We were always sort of shifting and changing. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad, and toward the end it got shitty. As a band you have to change or else it will fizzle, so the band changed. Maybe it changed for the worse.[v]

 

Adam: We had been together for a long time and we were pretty much at the end of the line. There was some stuff we still could have done. There were half a dozen songs that we never recorded in a studio that I think were really good. We never got a chance to live with those songs. People have asked recently if I wish we had done things differently, but it’s just so impossible to talk about things like that. I don’t regret the way it ended. That’s just how it went.[vi]

 

Blake: I felt like I really had to change my life and I didn’t see being in the band as a way to do that. Being in Jawbreaker, there was no way to figure my way out of it. I was consumed by the projected identity of who I was as a member of Jawbreaker. I just couldn’t be that person—that person is a lot more romantic than who I am in my real life. My life was so empty at that time that I just felt like I had to completely restart it.[vii]

 

Adam: When it was over, I didn’t sit and stew on it every day; I didn’t mourn the band every day. But it was sort of this nagging thing. Breaking up the band meant that my relationship with Blake, who was my best friend since I was fifteen years old, would now change. There are two relationships there: You have your friendship and you have your musical partner. It was a bummer.[viii]

 

Chris: Friendships, relationships—these things change. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. The band broke up not because of any one person’s desire. Jawbreaker broke up because different people were being pulled in different directions to do different things. It would have taken changes in all of us to make it survive. Who we were then and with what was going on then, I don’t know if it could have been saved. I don’t think so.[ix]

 

Adam:  We were all affected by this band. I was totally affected. I didn’t just dance off into the sunset and start my new thing—I was really at a loss for what I was going to do with the rest of my life. That was ten years of my life. We had been playing together since 1986, became Jawbreaker in 1989, and then broke up in 1996. That was our thing, our relationship, our lives. When it happened, we told people the band had run its course and that was that. But it wasn’t—that was just kid gloves on a totally complicated issue. I don’t think any of us knows exactly why we broke up. We weren’t getting along? Sure. But was that it?[x]

 

Chris: In hindsight I’m not sure [signing to Geffen] was necessarily the best move, but that’s 20/20 hindsight. Nothing came of it, so of course it wasn’t the best move. We lost a lot of our existing fan base and didn’t really gain a new one. Eventually that’s what killed it for me.[xi]

 

Christy Colcord: If it had all happened five years later, it would have been fine. When they put out Dear You, people were…it was just vicious. Like, they were such sellouts—not only because they had taken the check, but because it was so nice.

 

A lot of it is because Blake got his throat fixed—so he doesn’t sound like he’s gargling glass anymore. That’s one thing…It reflected the change in their direction, in their scene affiliation. People were so against it. And then of course,  five years later, all of those people were like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I fucked up and boycotted their show, when this record was so great.” And part of that is place, and part of that is age. Because, later you don’t really care about the scene politics anymore and you’re like, what the fuck was I thinking? Like, I thought plenty of stupid stuff when I was in my 20s but in my 40s, whatever. That’s why Adam can keep selling Jawbreaker stuff—’cause all the people who were late to the party, or gave up on them and then came back, or wish that they had been there.

 

Adam: The only show I remember we all agreed that we would do was the Jon Stewart Show. But that never happened. We didn’t get huge. We didn’t sell any records. And no one knows our band. It’s just that we have this great following of this very small group of people who just love our band. And a lot of those people started bands themselves and got popular. That’s why our name is still out there, because these younger bands loved our band.[xii]

 

Dan Sinker: Very, very few bands found success from the post-Green Day money. Most of them released a record and broke up. All that money and that attention made an incredible amount of people have amazing opportunities for a very short amount of time. I mean, the indie labels sold more as a result of the attention. But it hurt.

 

Bill Schneider: I really wonder what Tim Yohannan’s take on Gilman was, later in life. He seemed to rail against everything the East Bay scene became. He hated that all the bands got popular. I wonder if he was ever able to step back from being bitter to see what really came out of Gilman. He had more foresight than he ever knew.[xiii]

 

Jello Biafra: Tim Yohannan sort of spun a spider web for himself and then tightened it further and  further with each passing year. He admitted to me at one point when MRR was all hardcore all the time in terms of what they were the champions of. He told me, “You know, sometimes I get kinda tired of what we’re playing on the show and when I’m home I just want to listen to Billy Childish.” Even till the very end, you could flip through the MRR record collection and find a Slip Harpo album or something in there that Tim never felt he could get rid of. I think he kind of confused it a bit in the end.[xiv]

 

Mike Morasky: With Jawbreaker we kind of all thought that somebody would help them get over that hurdle and that it would take off; to have all those kids turning their backs on them at shows and shit-talking, I just never got it. I always thought there was a certain element of jealousy there—who doesn’t want to have some success and have the world tell them that they’re great…Having already watched Nirvana do their thing and then Green Day, it was kind of like, “Don’t we want the purveyors of mass culture to be Blake Schwarzenbach?” I fuckin’ do! I would much rather have him be a superstar than some idiot who just lied his way there.[xv]

 

Their fate was hardly unique. It was a commonplace in the punk community that bands who aspired to anything greater than Gilman and the East Bay were necessarily self-interested sellouts. Well beyond the Bay Area, artists who tried to live by an ideology of nothing more militant than basic dignity were disintegrating in bitterness and recrimination. In the circumstances of their breakup, Jawbreaker was, for once, utterly typical of the scene to which it ambivalently belonged.

 

***

 

After the breakup, most of the band detoured into non-musical pursuits. Chris went back to school, first at San Francisco State, then in the Ph.D. program in history at Purdue University in Illinois.

In 1998, he spent a year in Hanover, Germany researching the unlikely subject of 18th- and 19th-century German bureaucratic history, and writing several hundred pages of a dissertation (“Enlightened Paternalism: The Idiom of Hannoverian Reform Ideology”) that he left unfinished, graduating with a master’s in history.

 

Back in San Francisco, in 2001, Chris married Lucy Peterson, a fellow musician, fashion designer, and vintage dressmaker whom he had met eight years earlier. The following year, they moved to Olympia, where they still live, in a lovely yellow house on a quiet street, with two very pampered cats, and among their abundant vintage paperback and toy collections. Over the years, he also played and recorded with a number of bands—Horace Pinker, Shorebirds, Mutoid Men, RVIVR—none of which he seems especially eager to talk about.

 

In the few interviews he has done since the band’s breakup, Chris has been courageous and open about his struggles with depression, alcoholism, and the bipolar disorder he inherited from his mother. For the last few years, he has been sober, on medication, and healthy: “Completely sober and completely medicated and a little bored,” as he put it, laughing. In 2011, to get himself out of the house after a bad bipolar episode, he started volunteering at the Thurston County Food Bank, feeding rural and low-income families in the Olympia region. Six years later, he is on staff as the food bank’s satellite and mobile food bank program manager, overseeing volunteers and deliveries to 25 local church groups and community centers that feed thousands of families a year. He is rightly proud of his work: “Don’t sell my soul. Don’t sell widgets. Doing something good for people.” When asked if his coworkers were aware of his former life as punk rock royalty, he smiled shyly and said:

 

Yeah. Of course they do. No one believed me. Occasionally we’d get an intern or one of the Evergreen [state college] students will come through and they’ll be like, “Oh my god.” I’ll give them a record. But no one was really aware of the band. Except my boss’s niece from Germany came here. She was here last winter to work for a while. It turns out her brother was a huge Jawbreaker fan and he became minorly famous for a tiny German town for knowing me. So yeah, I mean, I encounter people from time to time. It’s usually younger people. Although now, with everyone, the joke is, “They’re getting the band back together! Chris is gonna leave!”

 

Of Jawbreaker’s three members, he seems the most ambivalent or unaffected by his time in the band: “For a while I wanted to get away from it. I really wanted to distance myself from music completely. I stopped listening to music after Jawbreaker broke up. I just completely broke from it. At my thirtieth birthday party, which was three months afterwards, I remember giving away all the extra copies of the Jawbreaker records that I had.”[xvi]

 

“One of the things I loved about being in the band was meeting people. I loved sitting in the t-shirt booth talking to everyone. When we were on tour with Nirvana, one of my favorite things to do was walk outside with my backstage pass and grab people waiting outside who didn’t have tickets. I would just be like, ‘Come on, let’s have fun! Come see our band!…I hope people remember the honesty. I hope that they remember that we gave a shit about what we were doing, no matter what label we were on. Hopefully that shines through.” [xvii]

 

***

 

Adam stayed on in San Francisco. In 1997, he married his longtime girlfriend, Lydia Ely, an artist, musician, low-income housing development official, and founder of San Francisco’s Street Sheet, who once worked in the illustrious Washington, D.C. Haagen-Dazs franchise that also employed her friends Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins.

That same year, with partners Christy Colcord and Dave Hawkins, he opened the locally beloved Last Weekend Video in the Mission. The store would remain in its location on Valencia Street for the next eighteen years, until the fall of 2016, when its collection of 30,000 DVDs, VHS tapes, books, CDs, and other obsolete media moved into the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the New Mission Theatre.

 

His two daughters, Stella and Mimi, are now sixteen and twenty. Naturally, one of them, Mimi, interns for Maximum Rocknroll, and attends the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn as a film major; Stella is in the creative writing department at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Adam also played drums for a number of bands: J Church, Songs for Emma, the Moons, A Black Light, Old Hangtown, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and Whysall Lane, whose members included Richard Baluyut of Versus, singer and guitarist of Chris’s pre-Jawbreaker band back at NYU, Butcher Clyde. Most recently, he plays and tours with California, a power-pop trio with Jason White and bassist Dustin Clark:

 

California just did a little trip down to L.A. and we had so much fun. We had a couple of club shows up here opening up for big bands, but those little beater shows we did in L.A. at, like, the Save Chinatown Music Festival—those were hands down the most fun to play. They were all-ages. We were playing on the floor. There was a buffet at one of them. [Laughs.] It was heartwarming to be back in that space, and it was a reminder that the spirit of the scene that we came up in is still out there. That’s very cool for me. I see my daughters and her friends now and they are in a very cool scene. They go to a lot of shows up here.

 

Since the band’s breakup, Adam has very much been the custodian of Jawbreaker’s catalog. In 2004, he licensed Dear You from Universal for a five-year period when it became clear that they had no intention of keeping the album in print. They have since repressed it upon the expiration of this term, just in time for its 20th anniversary. From 2010 to 2015, Adam oversaw twentieth-anniversary reissues of the band’s four albums and the Chesterfield King EP. In time-honored DIY fashion, he runs the band’s label, Blackball Records, out of his house, and ships each individual order of band merchandise or colored vinyl himself, or with the help of an intern. Somewhat unlike his former bandmates, he takes an active, personal interest in the band and its legacy, and was instrumental in the making of both the documentary and this book. He regularly posts to the band’s Facebook page, and still answers and saves every fan letter:

 

I would feel strange throwing that stuff away. Someone bothered to put a stamp on something and get it out here. I’ve even saved the letters that just said, “Can you send me a sticker?” I would feel strange getting rid of that. I think it would be disrespectful. That stuff is tucked away in my basement in a big box and I know it’s there. I’m not downstairs crying over old letters to my band, I just don’t feel comfortable getting rid of it. People took the time and made the effort—and I’m not going to get rid of it. I’m just not.

 

I have some really nice letters that I want to look back at and show to my kids someday. There was one kid that wrote us who was so depressed and so bummed out that he didn’t think he was going to make it to his eighteenth birthday. The letter was just really fucking heavy and horrible. Blake and I wrote him back and told him to come out and see us and that we hoped he was going to be all right and everything, and then, a couple years later, he sent us his Selective Service card. That was awesome. That meant he had made it to his eighteenth birthday and he wasn’t going to enlist. How are you going to throw that away? You can’t.[xviii]

 

“Everyone’s got their own thing about this band. We were around for a relatively short time, but obviously something really struck a chord with people that has given Jawbreaker legs this many years later. I think it has a lot to do with the writing, I think it has a lot to do with the stories that are told that people are relating to, and I’d like to think it’s the music as well. But it really hit a nerve. And people will roll up to me and pull up their sleeve and they’ve got a tattoo with one of our song’s lyrics on it or something, and I usually ask them, “Do you regret that one?” and they don’t.”

***

 

Blake moved back to New York. He took an unpaid internship with Poets & Writers magazine, finished a master’s degree, and started teaching writing at Hunter College: “When I got my first class assignment, I felt like a legitimate citizen for the first time in my life. I had so much to learn, but I liked being able to tell people that I was a teacher.”

In an interview, he continued: “It’s all learning, for teachers and students and punks and tramps. We find our teachers where we can—books, street wizards, lovers, nemesii, whatever. I don’t see any difference between a show and a university classroom—they can both be illuminating and expansive or narrow and stupid.”

 

In 1997, he started a new band, Jets to Brazil, with bassist Jeremy Chatelain, whom he had met at Jawbreaker’s last show in Olympia, and drummer Chris Daly of Texas is the Reason. In no small part owing to Jawbreaker’s absence, and somewhat to Blake’s chagrin, Jets to Brazil was immediately descended upon by fans of his earlier band: a problem, admittedly, many of us would like to have, and one that would recur with each of his post-Jawbreaker projects. Jets to Brazil toured widely and released three records—Orange Rhyming Dictionary (1998), Four Cornered Night (2000), and Perfecting Loneliness (2002), all on the indie label Jade Tree—before quietly disbanding in 2003, without making an announcement.

 

For the next six years, he dropped out of public sight, and went back to graduate school. “I didn’t feel there was any connection between music and the real world, so I left. I wanted to cram all my sloppy ideology into some historical framework. Thus, grad school. It was a welcome respite and a great way to survive the wars the U.S. was waging against the Arab world. Then I realized there were as many blowhards and poseurs in academia as there were in indie rock.” In 2003, he gave a speech at a protest rally in New York against the war in Iraq. The vision and voice of 24 Hour Revenge Therapy are never far:

 

The difficulty of being an American might seem ridiculous, even envious, to someone outside this country, who knows only the business or muzzle-end of its stick. Better to be safely behind the hand of democracy than within its pulping grasp.  Here every day is the same–just now birds are chirping; a dog barks; the sun is shining on the buildings; someone is playing a radio for its music.

 

It is the kind of quiet in which attuned people hear violence, beneath this radiant thrum of calm. Where are the tanks and bombs and bodies and havoc?

 

The late show hosts have pinned flags to their lapels, a whisper of assent. They make French jokes–anything that is not exactly there, not exactly the matter. Everything becomes louder for what is not said. This is the vacuum of the Living Room War and its architects could not be happier.

 

It’s like a diptych of truth and illusion: one half Norman Rockwell, the other Hieronymus Bosch. We are handed the Rockwell yet we perceive the Bosch. I doubt the American imagination can exceed the reality of its victims who are now enjoying that nightmare made flesh. So we are told to cling to the Rockwell, that it might come to pass.

 

But look at history–look at art history! Rockwell was exploded by Pollock, his tidy lines and white picket fences blown to scribble and elliptical spatter; he exists now in an old folks’ home like a delusional uncle.

 

The dream cannot be sustained because it is without truth: vodka doesn’t make you handsome and guns don’t make you stay hard longer. You kiss as good as you kiss. In the end we are naked and pimply and sometimes hot.

 

Those with sense and feeling now lapse into sur-reality, because the injustice seems to outweigh the beautiful soul of the world.

 

We demonstrate because they have taken away language and curated the atrocity show with ivory trinkets and heathen caricature.

 

In 2008, Blake played a few shows on both coasts with a new band, Thorns of Life, with bassist Daniela Sea and drummer Aaron Cometbus of Crimpshrine, which broke up after a year. You get a hint of their flavor from the song titles: “I Hate New York,” “We Build Al Qaeda in Washington,” “From a Tower,” “Black Art,” “Not a Track Bike,” “O Deadly Death.” An interview after one of their shows:

 

Q. Do you get students who were familiar with Jawbreaker, or does that ever get weird?

A. I never have that problem because my students don’t come from punk rock backgrounds, or even rock backgrounds in general. It is a majority non-white population at my school, and as I think I said last night, the tragedy of punk rock is that it tends to be such a uniformly white cultural enterprise.

Q. Yeah, I saw barely any minorities at the show tonight, it was all white people.

A.Yeah, that’s the history of U.S. punk.

 

In 2009, Blake announced a new band, Forgetters, “a noise/folk/death/dance/soul band” with bassist Caroline Paquita and Against Me! drummer Kevin Mahon, which toured the U.S. and Europe in 2011, and self-released its debut full-length in 2012, produced by J. Robbins of Jawbox and Government Issue. It was a mix of elegant Jets to Brazil song structures with raw, unmistakable Jawbreaker energy, and some of his best songs in years. In the album’s six-minute centerpiece, “In America”–a nod to Susan Sontag–he observes: “In America, we’ve grown more boring than we were before these towers and wars.” Forgetters toured the album, and then seemed to vanish, quietly. In 2014, he played a series of solo shows around the U.S.: the sets included offbeat covers (Third Eye Blind’s “How’s it Going to Be” and The Lemonheads’ “My Drug Buddy”); Forgetters, Thorns of Life, and Jets to Brazil cuts; and, for the first time in two decades, two Jawbreaker songs: “Save Your Generation” and “Chemistry.”

 

What has come to interest me the most is the way that people in our society, the United States, become the things that they want to be when they’re young, or things that they admire, and think that they aren’t allowed to participate in. In my case that was, first, music, because I loved music as a kid. As a kid from a broken home, when I didn’t have parents around, or I didn’t have friends, I would listen to Steve Martin, A Wild and Crazy Guy, alone, and it kept me company. And then I listened to Electric Light Orchestra, and I thought that was really fantastic. And then I heard about Echo and the Bunnymen when I was in 7th grade, in Portland, and I bought Crocodiles, and I thought that was otherworldly. And, you know, it gradually evolved into punk in Los Angeles. And those were kind of my surrogate parents, and relatives, and mentors. So I grew up listening to all this music, and looking at visual art, at paintings, and it didn’t occur to me until I was about 19 that I might actually be able to do that thing, and provide that company for myself, and, ideally, for others.

 

Now I’m 43 and I’ve been in bands that seem to have provided some comfort to people, and to have been there in the dark places when they didn’t have anyone else, and I find that really gratifying. I’m old enough to be gratified by that, and to want to continue to do that work in this country, because I don’t think there’s a lot of it out there, and young people don’t sense opportunity in the sense of doing creative work. I feel like we are always told that we should do really hard, kind of undignified work in order to do art, and I fundamentally disagree with that principle. I think it’s very possible to do creative work, and to earn rent or food or whatever it is along the way.

 

So, one bit of advice I would have–if I were to see my younger self on the street–was to keep studying, and really listening, and looking at the things that move you, and that you respond viscerally to. And not to try to copy them, but just to let them into your person–and, they will guide you.

***

 

There is also the persistent matter of the reunion. Now that every other band from the ’80s and ’90s has cashed in, their fans have bitten their nails and wondered: when will Jawbreaker do the same?

 

It’s not a question that has escaped the notice of promoters. Starting sometime in the late 2000s, and with annual frequency ever since, the band has received regular offers in the six and seven figures to play again. It’s not a temptation their peers have resisted: the Pixies, The Replacements, Misfits, Black Flag, Sunny Day Real Estate, Sleater-Kinney, Cap ‘n’ Jazz—even Pavement raised the white flag and cashed in. (“Korea! Korea!”) By now, it’s more difficult to name bands that haven’t yet reunited: and of all the early indie bands whose members are still alive, only Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, and Jawbreaker have persisted in saying no. It will surprise no one with even partial knowledge of Jawbreaker’s contrarian nature that they have consistently turned down every offer they’ve received. (Blake: “I have to do new bands so that those [old] bands won’t get together.”) What might be more surprising, though, is how close they apparently came just a few years ago to saying yes.

 

In 2013, through their booking agent, Robin Taylor, the band was offered their highest-ever guarantee—a staggering, breathtaking number—to reunite for Riot Fest in Chicago, which has long specialized in elusive punk- and indie-band reunions. Without telling anyone, they met up at Blake’s practice space in Brooklyn while Chris was visiting his father in New York, just to see how it would go. More than a little to their surprise, they hadn’t lost their step, or forgotten a thing. Adam: “We just went to Blake’s practice space and played a couple of songs to see if we could. We weren’t sure if we could still do it. We could still do it.”

 

“I have a recording of it,” Adam said. “When I got the recording, I dropped it into iTunes, and I looked at the timing of [each song], and it was exact, almost down to the second, of the recorded versions. I thought it was so insane. I just wanted to see how off we were—like, ‘I was probably rushing the whole time’—but no, it was perfect. That was a real trip.” During our interview, Adam played me a minute or so from his iPhone of the band playing through “Chemistry”; it felt a little like being allowed to hear a few seconds of the great lost Velvet Underground record. Shortly after that rehearsal in Brooklyn, Adam gave an interview to Rice and Bread magazine online

Q. Can you see yourselves getting back together?

A. Because I live with this band, it doesn’t seem like it would be much of a stretch for me. I’m just constantly dealing with this group already, and because I still play drums, and because I know Chris and Blake still play, it doesn’t seem like it would be an impossibility. It just really has more to do with where everyone’s heads are at, and where they are with their lives, and jobs, and school, and family. Because nothing like that could be undertaken without serious consideration. We would never be aloof and do it half-assed at all. We’re not going to phone it in and just learn ten songs; that’s not going to happen and that’s not how we do things. We would take it really seriously if we ever did it, so that involves time and a lot of logistical shit. So I don’t hold my breath that that’s going to happen, but there’s nothing physical stopping us. Like, we’re not old men. I don’t see us not doing it because we have arthritis or something. We could easily do it, but it would just be a commitment.”

 

Was this at long last the reunion their fans had been waiting and praying for?

It was not. Once again—can you guess?—they would lose out to timing. By the time the band had gotten together, rehearsed, and found time to talk about it, several weeks later, the offer was off the table. The band that ended up taking their festival slot and guarantee? Adam demurred when I asked, but it was almost certainly The Replacements, whose presumably lucrative reunion headlined Riot Fest in September 2013. At that moment, I also understood, with regret, why it was “Chemistry” that Blake had played at his solo show in Brooklyn in 2014.

Blake: “I could see us spontaneously playing a party, but doing a huge tour would be kind of distasteful and it would do a disservice to the mystery of the band that’s somehow persisted.”

 


 

Footnotes

Jack Boulware & Silke Tudor, Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally

   Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day (Penguin, 2009)

Leor Galil, “An Oral History of Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy,” Pitchfork Review, Winter 2015.

Trevor Kelley, “The Oral History of Jawbreaker,” Alternative Press #266, September 2010.

Daniel Sinker, ed., We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, The Collected Interviews (Punk Planet, 2008)

Marc Spitz, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day (Hachette, 2006)

Author interviews with Chris Bauermeister, Scott Bradley, Christy Colcord, Mark Kates, Cassandra Millspaugh, Jon Liu, Adam Pfahler, and Blake Schwarzenbach.

[i] Kelley, 82.

[ii] Sinker, 99.

[iii] Sinker, 104.

[iv] Boulware, 435.

[v] Sinker, 111.

[vi] Sinker, 115.

[vii] Sinker, 107.

[viii] Sinker, 115.

[ix] Sinker, 111.

[x] Sinker, 114-115.

[xi] Galil, 99.

[xii] Boulware, 434-435.

[xiii] Boulware, 473.

[xiv] Spitz, 91.

[xv] Galil, 96.

[xvi] Sinker, 111-112.

[xvii] Sinker, 113.

[xviii] Sinker, 116.

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