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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.”

    Dear You, of course, still stands as the last recorded statement Jawbreaker made. The group disbanded the following year, with the band members going on to other concerns — in Schwarzenbach’s case playing in the bands Jets to Brazil, the Thorns of Live and forgetters, as well as earning his Bachelor of Arts from New York University, where the group formed in 1991. He also began painting and has exhibited his works on occasion.

    Jawbreaker’s 2017 Riot Fest appearance, intended as a one-off, led to more shows around the premiere that August of the documentary Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker. The group then decided to reunite for intermittent touring and festival performances, and the current trek is booked into early May, with multi-night stands in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and New York. Meanwhile, Schwarzenbach says there’s still a desire to record a much talked-about fifth album.

    “We’re always thinking about that,” he says. “We’ve been trying to write. It’s really challenging because I live in [Brooklyn] and Chris and Adam are on the West Coast. With Covid, it became almost impossible. We have the starts of lots of songs, but haven’t been able to finish the writing. This [tour] is the next thing, and maybe a record will be the next thing after that.”

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    Tickets for Jawbreaker’s tour are available via Ticketmaster.

    Jawbreaker 2022 Tour Dates:
    03/18 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo *
    03/19 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre *
    03/20 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre *
    03/24 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore *
    03/25 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore *
    03/27 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
    04/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern ^
    04/02 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern !
    04/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern @
    04/07 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium &
    04/08 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium &
    04/10 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Fillmore +
    04/13 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues %
    04/14 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues %
    04/15 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues %
    04/16 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues %
    04/19 – Detroit, MI @ Saint Andrew’s ?
    04/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore ~
    04/23 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues >
    04/24 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore >
    04/27 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza $
    04/28 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza $
    04/29 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza <
    04/30 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza <
    05/04 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle {}

    * = w/ Jawbox and Team Dresch
    ^ = w/ Best Coast and The Linda Lindas
    ! = w/ Face to Face and The Linda Lindas
    @ = w/ The Lemonheads and The Linda Lindas
    & = w/ Descendents and Face to Face
    + = w/ Dillinger Four and Smoking Popes
    % = w/ Built to Spill and Smoking Popes
    ? = w/ Lucero and Smoking Popes
    ~ = w/ Lemonheads and Smoking Popes
    > = w/ Lemonheads and Worriers
    $ = w/ The Linda Lindas and Worriers
    < = w/ The Linda Lindas and Shellshag
    {} = w/ Lucero and The Muslims

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