Jawbox R.I.P. 1989-1997

It's all over now.

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

to quit.

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.

After recording

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?"