Jawbreaker


Jawbreaker was a punk rock band from San Francisco California. Jawbreaker was a three piece comprised of Blake Schwarzenbach, Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfahler. All in all the band lasted from 1988 to 1996, a total of eight years. In that time they amassed a pretty good size following while nothing like some of their colleagues of the day they still managed to do pretty well. In the beginning Jawbreaker was self managed. The band themselves shopped their first three albums around to indi labels on their own to some degree of success. However in the mid nineties when so many other bands of their stature were signed to majors Jawbreaker fell in line and followed suit. Their demise followed shortly after their first official major label debut on Geffen, “Dear You”.

Musically Jawbreaker pushed the limits of what was being done with punk rock music up until that time. Many of their songs were long and complicated, not just 3 minute jaunts about hating their job, these were eight minute interludes of raw emotion, typically gloomy emotion. Good stuff to listen to when you’re bummed. At least that’s the case with their first two albums. The band was forced to take a break in 1993 because Blake suffered damage to his throat(cancer?) and needed an operation. When the band reunited after Blake’s operation they were not the same. On their first album after his operation, “24 Hour Revenge Therapy”, Blake sang much different and their song structure had changed accordingly. Gone was his raspy gravelly voice and it was replaced by a more common traditional voice, with the song lengths and subjects also becoming slightly more traditional. I actually really enjoy his voice after the operation better then before and “24 Hour” is my favorite Jawbreaker album. I like their first two a great deal too and if I’m picking out a Jawbreaker album to bring in the car it’s usually a toss up between the first three.

I have plenty of Jawbreaker memories. My buddies had a band in high school that played around at many of the local venues, VFW’s and Elk’s Lodges mostly. That doesn’t sound like much but that’s plenty of venue for some budding young musicians. They never had an album or anything, I think they might have had a cassette demo that they distributed but that’s as far as it got. Anyway, after a year or so they got a little following and it was fun to go to their shows. At one such event a band opened for them, a handful of fellows I didn’t know very well, but this band played mostly just Jawbreaker covers. At the time Jawbreaker was very active and well known among the little punkers I hung around with so covering them wasn’t a terribly creative thing to do. You know what I did? I booed them. Yep, the little bastard I was I booed them. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Jawbreaker, in fact it was the opposite, I liked Jawbreaker too much to see their music represented in such a fasion. While they didn’t seem to pay any mind to my vocal protests to their song selection it still wasn’t a very nice thing for me to do. So nameless band, I’m sorry for booing you some seventeen years ago at a Elks Lodge somewhere in Morris County New Jersey.

1) Unfun [1990]
2) Bivouac [1992]
3) 24 Hour Revenge Therapy [1994]
4) Dear You [1995]

You must be logged in to post a comment.