After playing more than 600 shows in eight years, Jawbox is
calling it a day. "It's better to leave now than just grinding it into the
ground," Jawbox bassist Kim Coletta told ATN. "We want it to be precious
In an email missive distributed to fans, guitarist J. Robbins
wrote, "No single event or issue brought us to this decision; rather it was an
accumulation of issues and events, particularly over the last six months, which
had a similar effect on us."
Jawbox emerged from the hardcore scene
fostered by Dischord Records to create four albums of aggressive guitar rock,
marked by polyrhythmic drums and non-linear lyrics. Atlantic, the band's home
for their last two albums, recently dropped Jawbox from its roster. Members
insist that Atlantic's action was but one factor among many in their decision
The band is declining interviews about the break up; however, bass
player Kim Coletta told ATN that, "We want to try to exit the music world as
graciously as I think we entered it. A lot of the reasons are quite
personal.... It's so many things culminating at a certain point in time that to
just explain it is almost dull. It's a lot of issues, it's no one catastrophic
J. Robbins formed Jawbox in 1989 after a stint as bassist in the
hardcore outfit Government Issue. Along with Fugazi, the Holy Rollers, and
Lungfish, Jawbox helped to push the Dischord sound away from pummeling hardcore
punk, toward more intricate, rhythmic hard rock. The band often
The band often dovetailed guitar dissonance with melodic
bass, juxtaposing that mix with typically amorphous lyrics.
Grippe (1991) and Novelty (1992), Jawbox moved to Atlantic, where
they settled into their final line-up, featuring second guitarist Bill Barbot
and drummer Zachary Barocas. Jawbox was the first Dischord band to sign with a
major label, thus paving the way for label mates Shudder To Think to sign with
Epic. Before Atlantic let them go, Jawbox released For Your Own Special
Sweetheart (1994) and Jawbox (1996), issuing the vinyl versions of
these albums on their own DeSoto label.
Coletta reiterates Robbins' email
assurance that "Atlantic Records has very little to do" with the break up: "As
[Fugazi member and Dischord owner] Ian MacKaye pointed out to me, 'It's a shame
you're doing this now only because people will naturally equate it with
Atlantic dropping you.' And I'm like, yes, fuck it, whatever. I know our band's
history, and people who are very close to us will understand our band's
motivations and reasoning and timing.
"Believe me or not (and I know people
won't), it wasn't linked with that. I don't care about Atlantic. I was
so burned out with them. I was actually looking forward to putting out the next
Jawbox record on DeSoto. We'd actually talked about that and made plans, but
it's not to be...I have some good memories and some bad memories of Atlantic,
but such is any label I suppose."
In his email letter, Robbins also noted
that Barocas had left Jawbox, writing that "Zach's departure was a big factor,
but far from the only one." Coletta explains that Barocas' exit technically
never happened; the band was simply preparing for his enrollment in film school
next fall. She points out that the drummer's absence would have taken its toll
had the band not decided to break up before he left. "I can't imagine if any
one person left this band. It's not Jawbox to me any more. It was a pretty
tight line-up and Zach's drumming is rather unique. He's not exactly
Coletta adds that the members of Jawbox "are all dear friends
still," and she expresses her excitement about continuing the DeSoto label.
"This really does free me up right now, because we've never been more
busy than we are right now on DeSoto. We have three full length releases at one
time (Shiner, Dismemberment Plan, and Candy Machine), which even Dischord
doesn't do that. It's insane. I'm freaking out right now."
She notes that
mournful fans "can look to future musical endeavors, of course. 'Cause we can't
sit still, right?"