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Jawbreaker Reflect on 25 Years of Dear You, Promise “Guitar Catharsis” on Anniversary Tour

The band's Dear You 25th anniversary tour kicks off March 18th

jawbreaker interview
Jawbreaker, photo by John Dunne/Illustration by Steven Fiche
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    If all had gone as planned, Jawbreaker would have been on the road two years ago to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their seminal — and polarizing — fourth studio album Dear You. But the trio is confident that as the Covid-delayed tour finally hits the road on Friday (March 18th) in Seattle, it will still be a celebration.

    “If I think 25 years, I get dizzy. I’m honestly surprised I’ve been doing anything that long,” singer-guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach tells Consequence. He adds that since the group reunited during the summer of 2017 — to play at Riot Fest in Chicago, among other gigs — Dear You “kind of came alive. It seems to have some buoyancy.”

    And time has treated it well since 1995, when purist fans slammed Jawbreaker for signing with a major label (DGC) and working with producer Rob Cavallo, who the previous year had a multi-platinum smash with Green Day’s Dookie.

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    “My relationship to [Dear You] hasn’t changed that much,” says Schwarzenbach, who had undergone polypectomy vocal cord surgery prior to recording the album in early 1995 at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, Calif. “I guess I don’t have to apologize for it quite as much. We loved the record when we put it out, but we took some hits. To us, it’s just our fourth record. It’s part of our chronology.

    “My experience is records take a couple years to find their audience, unless you’re that kind of fluke that has a hit right out of the gate. I’m happy with where it’s at now. I think a lot of younger musicians found it after the fact and cite it as an influence. So I think it did find its place.”

    Re-immersing himself in Dear You to prepare for the tour, Schwarzenbach says he’s able to recognize more of what went into making the album and particularly about his own state of being as he wrote the songs.

    “When that album came out, I’d spent years wrestling with pretty brutal depression,” he recalls. “I did a lot of therapy and a lot of different kinds of treatments. Now I can see my diagnosis is pretty clearly in a lot of those lyrics, the central crises in my life at that time. Being in them I didn’t see them at the time, but in retrospect, it was pretty textbook. I find that kind of encouraging, actually, that you may know more about where you’re at than you may realize.”

    To that end, his personal favorite track is “Jet Black,” a hard-hitting five-plus-minutes of existential angst that ends with a blazing head of steam.

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    “For me as a songwriter, it’s a big step to have a statement that’s that stark and all-encompassing. That’s something I’ve had in each band I’ve been in, kind of one song that just took my writing to a different level, where you feel you’ve learned a lot once you were able to call it a song and perform it.”

    Schwarzenbach also promises that for this year’s live shows, Jawbreaker has “expanded the backend a little bit to make room for some guitar catharsis.”

    But the trio, according to the guitarist, is still wrestling a bit with how it will present Dear You in concert. “We’ve never done anything like this before,” he notes, and while initially Jawbreaker will play the album in its original sequence, it doesn’t feel tied to that format.

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    “I expect that will change somewhere along the way,” Schwarzenbach says, “partly because of our need to keeping interesting and maybe to keep surprising those in attendance. I think the sequence is pretty solid, but there are couple points where I feel like it starts to feel long. I feel like we can shuffle it and make it feel exciting. There’s also some very big numbers up front, and traditionally we construct sets so it builds to something big and heavy.

    “That’s a pretty non-committal answer,” he adds with a laugh. “We’ll see what happens once we get out there.”

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