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Music / Jawbox

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Jawbox (obviously)

Jawbox was a Washington, D.C. Post-Hardcore band active between 1989 and 1997. Despite being burdened with the usual "critics love it, but the public doesn't know them" that tends to befall such bands, their output proved influential for other Alternative Rock and Alternative Metal bands, and they definitely established themselves as one of the best alt-rock bands with a bassist named "Kim".

The band was initially formed by J. Robbins, who had left Government Issue and decided to switch from bass to guitar/vocals. With Kim Coletta on bassnote  and Adam Wade on drums, Jawbox recorded a 7'' EP before being signed to the fanatically independent, Ian MacKaye-owned Dischord Records. Here, they recorded two albums: Grippe and Novelty, both of them showing a Post-Hardcore band with a Post-Punk influence, and the latter representing the debut of second guitarist Bill Barbot.

Sometime after Novelty, Wade left the band to join labelmates Shudder to Think, and was replaced by Coletta's Promoted Fanboy roommate Zach Barocas, whose jazz-influenced drumming represented an important contribution to the band's sound. With the "classic" lineup now established, Jawbox found themselves receiving attention from Atlantic Records in the midst of The '90s' Alternative Rock explosion. The fact that the band were self-sufficient and so Control Freaky they signed an incredibly favourable contract that kept their independence seemed to go unnoticed as the Fan Dumb erupted: one particularly psychotic fan wrote a letter wishing for their death in a van accident (and a particularly clueless one quoted The Clash's "Complete Control").

Now afforded additional studio time and the ability to make Jawbox a full-time job, the band went into the studio with producer Ted Nicely. What came out was For Your Own Special Sweetheart, an album greeted with strong critical acclaim (and terrible sales) and a landmark Post-Hardcore release. FYOSS spawned their Signature Song, "Savory" (a minor MTV hit, later covered by Deftones), and managed to somehow not bring extra attention despite the backing and resources of a major label.

Using a split live album with Leatherface to bide time, Jawbox re-entered the studio with producer John Agnello and made the slightly more polished Jawbox. While they were making it, Atlantic started a vanity label for alternative bands, TAG Recordings, and moved the band there. The self-titled once again limped out into stores, with the "Mirrorful" single becoming popular on College Radio. However, Atlantic went through a large corporate reorganisation that led to TAG being axed and Jawbox dropped because they hadn't sold gazillions. Based on Barochas' decision to move back to New York and attend law school, the band called it a day in 1997, coincidentally on the same day that Soundgarden broke up.


  • Jawbox EP (1990)
  • Grippe (1991)
  • Novelty (1992)
  • For Your Own Special Sweetheart (1994)
  • Jawbox (1996)

Jawbox provide examples of: