Words by Dan Didier | Intro by David C. Obenour
In an introductory sense, there’s not much left to say about Jawbreaker that hasn’t already been said. The combination of raw punk music and Blake Schwarzenbach’s intensely personal songwriting fostered one of the 90’s furthest reaching and longest enduring cult followings.
In a more examinative sense, there’s always room for more to be said on Jawbreaker. Started by Tim Irwin and Keith Schieron (the pair behind the iconic, We Jam Econo on California’s The Minutemen), Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker is a documentary a decade in the making. Picked back up Schieron and The Promise Ring’s Dan Didier as a co-producer, the now finished film features the original 2007 recordings from a reunion of Jawbreaker’s members, along with interviews from Billie Joe Armstrong, Steve Albini, Jessica Hopper, and an all cello Jawbreaker soundtrack by Gordon Withers (Office of Future Plans, J Robbins Band).
Below is our guest column from Didier, featuring a randomized selection of songs pulled from his own music collection.
Being in a band and working on films and being interviewed here and there for different things I am involved in is fun and all, but sometimes I read other articles and think, hmmm, that sounds like it would have been a fun thing to be a part of.
For instance, NPR’s All Songs Considered has done (or is still doing) Drum Fill Friday where they have guests provide drum fills for songs that the reader then gets quizzed on. One of my friends did that once and I thought of a bunch of other drum fill options that would stump the reader and thought, “they better ask me because I will slay with my choices.”
Another article I liked to read was from what I call the “Golden Age” of the AV Club where they were producing a lot of great content like the AV Undercover videos, Pop Pilgrims, and a column called “Random Rules.” The latter had artists put their listening device on shuffle and comment on the first few songs that popped up. Since this was something I thought was a great idea and since no one has ever asked me to do something like that I though, “Perfect! I’ll do it myself!” So, without any further ado here is the first five songs that played when I hit shuffle that no one asked for.
File this under the “sorry not sorry” section of my music library. We all need a pop hero. Admit it, we do. Rihanna is mine and I celebrate her entire catalogue. The low-end on this song is filling rattling while the lyrics are, correct me if I’m wrong, about sex. “I’ll let you in on a dirty secret I just wanna be loved.” Don’t we all.
I was obsessed with this album when it came out. This was the record I always went to after my daughters were in bed and I would just do dishes or random chores letting the lovely fuzz and warm tones and echoey melodies envelope the kitchen. A great respite from a long day. There is a heroic nature to the song that I always latch onto and “It’s no good unless it’s real” is a great line and basically my mantra.
Finding out about this album started a few years ago when I decided to start skateboarding again. I never really “quit” but when I was in high school I stopped identifying myself as a skateboarder and started identifying myself as a musician. Getting back into it meant getting back into constantly injuring myself, having constant sore muscles, constantly braking boards, and constantly watching skate videos. With YouTube, Instagram, etc. it is very easy to entertain yourself by watching clip after clip after clip ad nauseam. In doing so I stumbled across a video for something (or someone) called Manramp. A genius idea where a man dressed as a construction worker carries a plank of plywood with him which he uses as a ramp of sorts for a crew of skaters. So, after going down another wormhole researching the company behind it, The Worble, I started watching everything they put out the second they released it. Enter Toxic Planet. Released in 2018 this video is definitely one of the better skate “films” I’ve seen based solely on not only the crazy skating, but the Christ-like figure who between parts states things like…
THY BOARD HAS SEVEN LAYERS
SO DOES HELL
THE SIDEWALK HAS CRACKS IN IT
SO DO WE
The band creates synthed out rock that is unabashedly over the top. This song just happens to be my favorite on the album/soundtrack with its triumphant keyboard line and guitar riffs it certainly makes me want to grab my board and hit the skate park to inevitably injure myself.
Oh no!!! This fucking album. It was the album that was added to everyone’s phone without consent. I never listened to this album and have always skipped the tracks when they show up unannounced and this is no exception. Sorry. Can’t bring myself to listen. It’s basically being “Rickrolled” every time a song from this album shows up. Actually, it is more like in films, usually horror, when a group of people slowly turn around to look back at a doomed protagonist that is now being inundated with bugs, or snakes, or slime, or something that will eventually kill them but before they succumb to whatever is attacking them, they scream “Get it off me! Get it off me!” That’s this record.
The Cure were the transition band for me between listening to Men at Work and The Cars to The Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Misfits, and Bad Brains. Along with Joy Division, The Smiths, they were the ones that lead me to forward and backward to punk. They were the ones that had shown me a broader pasture of sounds, of possibilities, of innocence lost. In fact, the first time I made out with someone “Just Like Heaven” was playing in the background. Anyways, this isn’t my favorite song by them by far (“A Forest”, duh) but I always liked vaudeville-ian nature of this song and is that a roto-tom solo after the second verse? Why, yes it is! I have always admired The Cure’s song structures. For instance the vocals don’t come in until after 1 minute (keep in mind this song is only just over three minutes) then they run through a verse hit a half chorus into a solo-ey part back into the chorus again. Second verse into the aforementioned roto-tom solo. Back to the first verse. Chorus. Back to the second verse with an abrupt ending. Genius, really.