68 - The Michigan Daily - Wtre*, e C. - Thursday, April 4, 1996
Jawbreaker's unique sound continues to blow listeners away
By Colin 3arts
Daily Arts Writer
It's really easy to get down on the
music industry; it seems like so many
bands are just going through the mo-
tions. Originality is ata premium these
days, as it seems there are three bands
that sell and everyone else is just fol-
lowing along. That's why it's so nice
when you hear a band that you can
respect for doing its own thing. Jaw-
breaker is a band that can floor you
upon your first listen.
What began pretty much as a hobby
around 1990 among three friends, gui-
tarist and vocalist Blake
Schwarzenbach, bassist Chris
Rauermeister and drummer Adam
Pfahler, became cemented as a band
afer Jawbreaker's first live gig. "The
first time we came up to Berkeley and
played Gilman (the East Bay punk
mecca), it was like pretty official,"
Schwartzenbach recalled in a phone
interview with The Michigan Daily. "It
became more formal when we moved
here (San Francisco) after school and
started writing songs which ended up
Jawbreaker's influences are varied,
which accounts for the variations in
their style, although as Schwartzenbach
described it, "Adam and I went to high
school in L.A. ... during the SST re-
naissance, so we used to always see the
Minutemen and Black Flag."
Schwartzenbach recalled a concert that
changed his life: "Sonic Youth was like
a really big deal when I saw them ...
really surreal gig, and I hated it - the
whole show I thought like, 'What is this
crap?!' And when they were done, I felt
totally high ... it was the best show I
Jawbreaker's debut, "Unfun," was
released in 1991 on Shredder Records.
Where: St. Andrew's Hall
Tickets: $6 through
took three days to record, as it was
recorded relatively live, in Albini's
house. The album explored a poppier
side of the band, while still keeping the
fuzzy wall of guitar, strained vocals and
hard edge that "Bivouac" possessed.
The disc includes a song, "Outpatient,"
which documents Schwartzenbach's
After nonstop touring, Jawbreaker
decided to shop around for another la-
bel, because the ultra-indie Tupelo
Records was just not doing the trick
anymore. After shopping around, Jaw-
breaker finally decided on signing with
Geffen Records, a huge, major label,
something that Schwarzenbach claimed
he would never do in a million years. "I
was very much against it,"
Schwarzenbach recalled. "I think ...
looking at it closer ... and seeing that
we could do it kind of any way we
wanted, the contractual parameters were
a lot more elastic ..."
Instantly, Jawbreaker was seen as
some kind of sellout by a lot of its hard-
core fans. Schwarzenbach sees why they
were angry, but disagrees with the sell-
out label. "I think (the fans) are kind of
right in one regard -there is some kind
of association with a larger corporate
entity ... there's really no hiding that
fact," he said. "But that record ('Dear
You') was going to come out regardless
... it might sound more polished ... but
it's still a weird record."
"Dear You" was released in late 1995,
breaking Jawbreaker's mold again. The
album actually took weeks to record,.
and was done without haste, something
.new to the band. Schwarzenbach toned
down his trademark smoker's yelp v
cals for a more relaxed approach. "Sing-
ing to me is really awkward,"
Schwarzenbach laughed. "I tried to fi.
nesse it a lot. You know, to just try and
really sing for the first time."
When asked about "Dear You,'
Schwarzenbach replied, "It's pretty
much a document of a year and a half. It
was a pretty strange experience - it
was really nervy. I felt a lot of weird
pressure I didn't anticipate. It was kind-
like a dark period ... I did a lot
writing alone." What resulted was a
masterpiece of 13 tales of melancholy,
sympathetic punk rock with music and
incredible lyrics which blow you away
more each and every time you listen to
the disc. It is definitely the deepest, yet
most accessible Jawbreaker album, al
though somehow they haven'tcompro.
mised their style at all.
After their headlining tour, whit
seems to be lasting forever, Jawbreaket
will join the Foo Fighters on the road.
This tour is sure to gain them some
good exposure, and their incredible live
performances should gain them some
respect. During the tour, Jawbreaker
has been trying out some new material
which could become the next record,
but it's too soon to tell.
"We've never operated with any con-
straints, sometimes to our detriment,"
Schwarzenbach said. "That's why ti
band kinda keeps going, because every
album is different." That's what makes
Jawbreaker such a good band: the abil-
ity to change and constantly reinvent
themselves with a fresh, new sound
every album. If every band were asx
The band Jawbreaker began as a hobby In 1990 among three friends, pictured here.
It differs from other Jawbreaker discs
in that it's basically a three-chord,
plug'n'chug punk album. Jawbreaker
refuses to play these songs live any-
more, feeling they are unrepresentative
of what the band is capable of now.
1992 saw the release of "Bivouac,"
which took Jawbreaker in a whole new
direction with chunky, loud, punk songs
mixed with slower-tempo masterpieces
like the 10-minute long title track.
"When ('Bivouac') came out, no one
knew really what to do with it,"
Schwartzenbach said. "It's pretty heavy.
I like it 'cause it's so fucked up. It's
kind of a mess."
While touring after the release of
"Bivouac," Schwartzenbach was taken
to receive emergency throat surgery to
remove a callous on his vocal chords.
Jawbreaker decided to continue with
the tour the next day, although
Schwartzenbach was a little more care-
ful. When asked how the surgery af-
fected him mentally, Schwartzenbach
replied, "It's something I look out for
and I may be a little more reluctant to
scream now, but it's kind of broken
back into its normal, you know - now
I'm just going off; I don't really care.
For a while, I was really freaked out,
because it can be chronic."
In the summer of 1993, Jawbreaker
called on recorder-extraordinaire Steve
Albini to record their new album, "24
Hour Revenge Therapy." The disc only
Cypress Hill: Former'pot band' finds road life to be 'a game of skill'
By Brian A.dnatt
Daily Music Editor
It's a half-hour before Cypress Hill
takes the stage at Detroit's State The-
atre. The sold-out crowd is eagerly
awaiting the band's lively performance
on the triple bill with 311 and the
Pharcyde, but Cypress has locked itself
on the band's tour bus, and isn't ready
to come out quite yet.
"What could be going on in there?"
you might ask yourself as thoughts of
marijuana and groupies fill your brain.
Inside the bus, it's quite a different
story. Cypress' mouthpiece, the stal-
wart B-Real, is locked in a head-to-
head duel with the group's percussion-
ist, Bobo. But this isn't your typical
rock'n'roll band battle royal - it's a
game of strategy, of intelligence and
skill - it's a game of chess.
"It helps me think a little bit," lead
rapper B-Real said in his laid back
speaking voice, a far cry from his nasal
rapping that graces Cypress Hill'sgenre-
busting rap records.
"It started coming around the last
couple oftours, you know. Some people
were closet chess players."
"Yeah, I think we all were," B-Real
"Everybody came out and said, 'Oh,
you play chess?' and then the shit talk-
ing began," Bobo said.
"This is the most competitive game,
We'd still be
lead rapper of Cypress Hill,
on fewer pot references in lyrics
because it's all strategy," B-Real said.
"It's your move, genius, so make it,"
Enthralled in their game of chess, B-
Real, Bobo and Cypress'substitute turn-
table artist, DJ Scandalous are sitting
around, with no blunt or bowl in sight.
The bus has only a faint smell of pot,
surprising for Cypress, who is almost as
famous for their pro-marijuana posi-
tion as for their music. On the stereo is
the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "My
Friends" from the Chili's latest record,
"One Hot Minute."
"So you like the Chili Peppers?"
"Whose CD is this anyway?" B-Real
asked his two partners in crime. A big
"I don't know" chorused the room as all
three tried to pass the disc off as some-
"If I like that group for any reason,
it's because of Flea and the rest of those
guys. I don't really care for Anthony
too much," B-Real said.
"What about the two who kiss?" Bobo
"I don't know that guy," B-Real re-
sponded. "Ifhe wants to get freaky with
his homeboy like that, then that's his
business. Personally, I don ':swinglike
that but you know, hey."
Thre's something missing from the
Cypress bus other than flaming herb.
Two-thirds of Cypress' original line up
is absent. B-Real said DJ Scandalous
(who has performed with the group
since Cypress Hill played Lollapalooza
last summer) is filling the shoes of DJ
Muggs, who was forced to stay home
this tour, finishing up work on two
albums he is producing. The second
missing member was B-Real's co-rap-
per, Sen Dog, who left the group mid-
tour in February of this year.
"Sen Dog's left the group and we've
just been trying to fill the void," B-Real
said. "It's a hard thing, but we're deal-
ing with it.
"He just felt like he wanted to be
doing something else besides rap," he
continued. "We can understand that,
you know? He has the right to do what-
ever he wants to do. So, that was it."
"Has he left for good?"
"Basically," B-Real said. "We've
considered it that he's left. We don't
want to try and change his mind, be-
cause if it's something he really feels
that he has to do, then we have to
respect it and not try to convince him
"You can never force anybody to do
something they don't really want to do
if they don't feel it anymore for what-
ever reason," Bobo added. "You know,
we love the guy, and there's no hard
feelings, but there is disappointment,
and that's something we've got to deal
with. The show has got to go on. We're
not going to stop to change it while
we're on the road. The most important
thing is to still be able to give a good
show to the fans so they don't feel
disappointed, so they don't feel cheated,
even though Sen Dog was a big part of
the group. So that's the big challenge
for us, but I think we've been doing a
hell of a good job."
there," B-Real said."It's hard, but we've
been doing good, so we can't let it get us
"No, officer, although I am wearing a marijuana leaf on my hat and thrusting a lighter at you, I can assure you that we don't
have any more weed In the Cypress Hill music-mobile."
While they've replaced Sen Dog for
the tour, Cypress hasn't decided who
Sen Dog's permanent replacement will
The group's latest album, "III
(Temples of Boom)" will be the last
in a long line of hit records to feature
Sen Dog. Cypress Hilfs 1991 self-
titled debut and their 1993 release,
"Black Sunday" both sold millions of
copies and had the smash hits "Hits
From the Bong," "Insane In the Brain,"
"Ain't Going Out Like That" and nu-
merous others. For "Temples of
Boom," Cypress continued with their
trippy crossover rap, appealing to both
rap and rock audiences.
"We had a lot of time to work on (the
record) and think about what we wanted
to do," B-Real said. "But we didn't
force it, the main thingofall. Wejust let
everything flow and it ended up being
cool. We're satisfied with it. We had no
complaints this time around-not from
ourselves at least."
B-Real also said "Temples of
Boom" features fewer songs about
pot than the last two records. Even
though the band has made their love
for marijuana very clear with songs
like "Light Another" and having a 10-
foot smoking bong on stage at its
shows, they said Cypress Hill doesn't
want to be known as a pot band.
"There's less. Definitely less," B-
Real said, wearing a black T-shirt
with "smoke pot" in big white letters
written across the front. "We're not
trying to get away from it. We're just
trying to show people that there's
more to us than just being a fucking
pot band, you know. Most of all, mu-
sic is the most important thing to us,
because if our music ain't good, then
we can't represent any form of mes-
sage, no matter what it is. People are
thinking that without the weed, where
would Cypress dill be? Fuck that.
We'd still be making good records, so
we cut it down a bit."
Even though they're trying to move
away from pot in their music, don't
worry about the band going straight.
Bobojust finished packing the band's
classy purple ceramic bowl with a
fresh batch of weed, and proceeded to
take a hit.
B-Real said the group's newer songs
are more concerned with awareness and
teaching kids about the paths in life..
"More or less awareness, to
aware of the things around you a
what could happen if you choose to
take certain roads," B-Real said after
sucking a casual hit off the lit bowl
and passing it to silent Scandalous.
"If you go down a certain road, then
this is the way to get to either a posi-
tive side of life or a negative. I choose.
to go positive, because for a long time
I went negative.
"I got into (weed) when I was 15"
he continued. "It all depends on wh4
the kid's head's at, because most kids
know what time it is. If you speak to-
them with respect and are giving them
respect, they'll show you respect,
they'll listen to what you've got to
say. If you're talking to them like you
know it all and you've got all the
answers, then you're talking around
them and fucking watering it down
and hiding shit from 'em, they dor
respect you. They go, T
motherfucker, who does he think he's
fooling?' Kids can make decisions.
They know what time it is. So we put
it to 'em blunt so they understand. I
got faith in the kids today, unlike their
parents and unlike everybody else who.
THE TOOTH OF CRIME
a metaphor for
life in America
..re g April 4-6, 11-3