Since their start in 1993, Glassjaw has been a band that has come out swinging, and swinging hard. If you don’t know about Glassjaw, it’s because you are either too young or just missed the boat. Coming out of Long Island, New York, founding members Daryl Palumbo and Justin Beck have curated one of the most influential sounds in post-hardcore, blending roots of New York hardcore and the melodic sounds associated with early 2000s screamo. One thing for sure is that they are not a band that can be compartmentalized and placed into one particular genre or subset. They are far beyond simply unique and aggressive, they are a blend of heavy and soft, and creative beyond the limits set by many bands associated with them.
After their conception, Glassjaw impacted the scene with two releases that set a standard and began to amass a cult following of fans that have remained loyal throughout the years. Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, released in 2000, was their breakthrough album which debuted their unique style of harmonious vocals over crunching guitar riffs and put the band on the map. They followed this album up quickly, and two years later released Worship and Tribute on Warner Brother records. Many regard this as their best work, and the album further pushed the band onto a larger platform where their music was able to reach and influence thousands more.
Between these two releases, Glassjaw became a staple of the genre and undeniably worthy of the praise they received. Unfortunately for the fans, they soon after took a hiatus and only played shows and released EP’s sporadically from the mid-2000’s until recently. Now they are back with a highly anticipated full-length album titledMaterial Control, released Dec 1, 2017 on Century Media, and they are on tour!
I spoke with founding members Daryl Palumbo and Justin Beck over the phone to see what they’re bringing to the table.
MIM: What can fans, the old fans and new fans, expect from the reprise of Glassjaw?
Daryl: The same. A really good rendition of all that material, of new material and old material alike. I think this tour is gonna sound particularly tight and I think we sound great. Not to sound so modest but it sounds fucking great, it sounds massive, and yeah, I don’t know, it’s loud, I know that. That’s the first adjective that anybody that I’ve [heard] that comes to the shows. You’re getting off of your ass.
Beck: Pretty much it’s gonna be the best rock concert that you are ever seeing. It’s better than Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” laser light experience. To the aesthetics, to the sonics, to the actual execution on the articulation.
Daryl: To the height of every band member. Every band member got taller for this fuckin’ tour.
MIM: So tell me a little about your new album Material Control. How is it similar to or different from Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence and Worship and Tribute?
Beck: Like we’ve kinda been before, there’s a commonality, unscripted guidelines that sometimes we write around. And I’d say, Daryl chime in, correct me if I’m wrong, but if we had to compare ‘Material Control’ compared to ‘Everything’ compared to ‘Worship’ I feel like Worship Glassjaw was like we were still young and just kinda fucking around and we just like so many things and all of a sudden we got signed and like “ya’ll got songs?” and all of a sudden we just put together and cobbled quickly a record.
Personally, I know people might check it as their shit but I’m always like ‘it sounds like a crazy series of demos’ and I’m like ‘alright cool’ ya know? But ‘Worship’ I think we went in and we were like ‘let’s put together a body of work that was akin to the first to the second, subsequent and so forth.’ There was a more…
Daryl: It sounded like a band. It sounded way more like a band.
Beck: Yeah. And then ‘Material Control’ we had again still kinda following the same B and A structure that we saw sought after from conception but just more gully and, much as I wanna say it’s more gully and not caring, it’s more precise, if that makes any sense.
Daryl: Yeah definitely. It is more precise and accurate and angular and executed better. It’s all more watertight structures or more cut the bullshit definitely is there. But at the same time, there’s also this far more sort of raw, brutal, sounding shit. Without the execution suffering which happens on a lot of heavy records and that’s happened to us in the past.
But I do think that this sounds like us. I mean we’re just so close to it that it’s hard to even talk about our own stupid shit, but I just feel like this is the sound, this is Glassjaw just sounds like that, it just sounds like us, the record, classic sort of Glassjaw sound but on every song in a row without really stretching out too too much. It’s just every fucking tune has that sort of classic sound.
We used to have a song called ‘Black Coffee’ in the 90’s and it was like a stepping stone into us just figuring out how to nail these choruses coming out of these really brutal type New York hardcory [sound]…it just has this sound. It was still infantile sort of like because it’s so old and so early on for us but like that song kinda is the signature sound that no matter how not mature maybe we were at the time, it does kind of adhere to these things now, the same sort of paradigm. It all kind of fits. I think this record is just a lot of those… that’s the sound that I associate with us.
MIM: It’s fucking heavy and you know, it’s awesome. When I heard it I think oh Glassjaw’s back and their fucking going back to the roots but they’re mixing in an incredible amount of musical creativity, it was cool to hear that so definitely comes through.
Daryl: That’s great that you hear that.
MIM: I was like oh shit cause I tend to think heavier bands are gonna continue to get softer as time goes on.
Daryl: They do, of course they do, we’ve done that too. Everything is a reaction to what’s before somehow. You go through this thing. But then sometimes you just kind of close your eyes and go down this fuckin’ hallway that you’re very very familiar with and you just like do it. That was this record, like “alright we’re doing this” and not that it takes any toiling over. Nothing was really difficult to put together.
You just do this familiar thing that just really fucking works and is really brutal. A lot of times bands do just get heavier and heavier. I think if we made a record with guitar pedals and spaceships, I just don’t think that’s [Glassjaw]…. If people are really waiting for us which kids say that they are…but if they’re waiting for a big unit, this big concept to come out, and it’s too much of that. I just don’t think that’s what anyone including us would have wanted or gotten really inspired by. I think this is exactly what it should have been which is awesome.
With special guests Quicksand, they are set to play Minneapolis in just a few weeks at the Varsity Theater on Monday July 9th. If you’ve been to a Glassjaw show before then you will expect nothing less than one of the most energetic live performances from a band, so come prepared to sing and sweat. If you haven’t ever heard of Glassjaw, catch up, listen to their discography, and experience what all the hype is about.