In Praise Of: Glassjaw
It’s been an agonising 15 years since they unleashed the imperious Worship And Tribute unto the world, but today, Long Island legends Glassjaw have finally graced us with a new album, Material Control. Dug into it yet? Give it a listen below and let us know what you think. That’s once you’re done here, of course.
Why? Because we’ve tracked down some Glassjaw superfans who now happen to front bands themselves, in an attempt to pinpoint exactly why the post-hardcore pioneers mean so much to so many people, and to help explain why their influence and appeal might just endure for years yet to come.
[If you’re a Glassjaw superfan, you’d do well to pick up our limited edition Glassjaw cover, which is on sale here this week]
BECKY BLOMFIELD, MILK TEETH
“I got into Glassjaw properly after seeing them at Hevy Festival a few years ago. I’d heard a bit before that, but watching them live put it all into perspective for me and it caught my attention for real then. I thought it was a great show.”
“I like that they’re really eclectic, and they don’t box themselves in too much. My favourite record of theirs is Worship And Tribute, it’s a great album and I think they take a lot of sounds that I like from other bands and seem to mix them together. In my eyes, they’re like if Incubus and Deftones had a baby! I like the mix of heaviness, the vocals and the intricacy of the bass parts. It’s all very clever.”
“For me, there are little key things on Worship And Tribute that make it stand out; the opening riff on Mu Empire is ridiculous, for example. It’s just a big fat fucking riff. Also, the vocais on Cosmopolitan Bloodloss. They manage to make stuff that’s not so obvious or super accessible or easy listening, but they manage to fit hooks in, which is really hard to do.”
“I’m super excited to hear Material Control. It’s been a while and I’m intrigued to see what they bring to the table. Shira sounds like a throwback to Worship And Tribute-era sound to me. They’re all very clever dudes, so I’m interested to see what they’ve been plotting behind the scenes.”
“My local record shop in Camberley was called The Rock Box, and the staff who worked there were super great. If you became even half-buddies with them, they would point you towards good records, which is really what record store personal should do. At some point, one of the guys said, ‘Oh, you like Deftones, right? You’d like these guys, too. They’re called Glassjaw.’ The connection wasn’t so strong, in my opinion. But I bought [Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About] Silence and I was weirded out at first, honestly. It didn’t sound anything like Deftones. There was heavy guitars and riffs, but the technicality and energy was completely different and Daryl Palumbo’s voice took a long time to get used to. It was different from anything else I’d heard. It was so unique, it was just so out there.”
“I already listened to a lot of screamy stuff, so it wasn’t so much of a leap it put me off entirely, and I stuck with them. Eventually, I realised, ‘Oh my God, this is my favourite record in the world!’ Crucially, for me, I was 16 or 17 and you’re supposed to be pouring over lyrics and identifying with them, but I’d never done that with the bands I listened to. Nirvana for example, Kurt’s lyrics were so opaque and weird, I couldn’t really relate to them. Or Marilyn Manson, who I was also listening to, he painted macabre fairy tales that sort of talked about America’s relationship with Jesus, which didn’t really translate to my home counties teenage life at all.”
“But when I heard …Silence, a lot of what I was hearing related to my experience growing up, particularly Daryl’s troubles with the fairer sex and his relationships. That’s all over ….Silence – sometimes in pretty ugly ways let’s be frank. But I connected with that, as I was figuring out the mysteries of love at the time. To hear this guy confused about it all too, I really locked onto it. That was huge for me.”
“Then Worship And Tribute came along in the summer of 2002 and that sort of opened the floodgates for the likes of Finch, Funeral For A Friend, The Used and the likes. I could never get into the ‘emo’ explosion, but Glassjaw were really good. It was still an exciting time. Worship And Tribute was a more concise and slicker record, but …Silence is still my favourite. I just can’t top it. It’s so visceral, so emotional and chaotic. I love Ross Robinson’s production, too.”
“I saw them live when they were touring that album, and it was amazing. Daryl was still getting very ill at that stage and often they would have to cancel shows. I was incredibly lucky to see them on the second date of their Worship… tour in Newcastle. I think he got ill and had to go home the next day. It was a bit of a weird show, truthfully. The venue was strange. It was a funny vibe, with not much energy from the crowd and it was an all round weird evening for me, as my friend took the opportunity to sit me down and explain the reasons why he hated me! I was there with my wife as well and Glassjaw mean a lot to us, especially some of the slower stuff off Worship And Tribute. It was really special, but maybe not as intense as I was expecting. I’d love to see them again.”
“People keep saying Material Control is coming 15 years later, but as far as I’m concerned there was a new Glassjaw album in those two 2011 EPs. I think they work very well as an album if you play them back to back. I regard that as the third album. There’s so much expansion and mystery about them. “If Shira had come after Worship And Trubute, I’d be like, ‘Awww yeah!’, but because we’ve had those two EPs, it sort of sounds a bit to me like they might have gone back a bit. It’s great, and no-one else could do it, but I was hoping they’d go even further along the lines of the EPs. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard it all though. I’m very excited to hear the new album.”
CHRIS LOPORTO, CAN’T SWIM
“I remember seeing Glassjaw about 12 years ago at some festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey. They were originally scheduled to play later in the day, around the time when all the bigger bands were going to be playing, but instead they did a surprise set to open the whole show. I’ll never forget how cool I thought it was that they left their egos at the door and played before the local bands. Seeing a slew of people, coffees in hand starting their day, running across the venue to go watch them play was hilarious. They’ve always had such a strong, unique presence in the music world and I’m so excited that they are giving us more, even if it is 15 years later!”
JAMES VECK-GILODI, DEAF HAVANA
“I don’t really listen to that kind of music anymore, but I would still hold Glassjaw as one of my favourite bands. I gave a lot of credit to Daryl Palumbo for how I sing, at least partially.”
“Years ago when we were still at school, the guy who used to scream in our band, Ryan [Mellor] and I used to share music. We had nothing else to do back then, we weren’t old enough to drink and it was before we even played music together, so we used to go back and forth with band suggestions. He told me about Glassjaw and I’d never heard of them, but when I listened to them it sounded like the weirdest thing. I pretended I liked what I heard so he’d think I was cool! I think that was Worship And Tribute, and then I got into the first album afterwards.”
“It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like them at first, so much as it felt really jarring for me. I’d never heard such a juxtaposition of sounds. He sings melodies over what’s basically hardcore, and for me that was so alien. I wanted to impress Ryan, so I was like, ‘Aww yeah, this is awesome’ but when I listened to them properly, I realised it was actually genius. I don’t know how he comes up with some of those melodies. There’s almost none in some of the guitar parts and he sings this weird, beautiful stuff over the top of them and transforms the songs. It’s mindblowing.”
“I think it was probably Tip Your Bartender when it all clicked for me. It goes from that chaotic verse and into a ray of light with the chorus. That’s classic Glassjaw. That chaos into calm absolutely killed me at the age of 14. Until then I’d listened to a lot of metal, but this was weirder. There aren’t many bands that sound like them, if there’s even any at all. Where do you put them? I don’t even know how they got started out, because where do they go on a bill? They’re such a weird and brilliant band.”
“I have the ‘g’ logo tattooed on my neck behind my ear, which I’d always wanted since I was a kid, but I only actually got around to about two years ago. I don’t even know why, they were just a band that stood out as special for me. When we were starting out, I ripped Daryl’s style of singing off a lot. They were so influential to me. There was no-one else like them at the time or ever, really.”
“Last night we were listening to them on the bus on tour and it was the first time in a while, because I go through phases and I suddenly remembered just how amazing they are. That new track, Shira is awesome too. It even sounds like it could be on Worship And Tribute. I’m excited about getting into the new album. If it sucks, it sucks, but I don’t think it will be because the early indications are very positive.”
TOM WEAVER, CASEY
“I’m not an OG Glassjaw fan by any means. I can still remember seeing the Cosmopolitan Blood Loss video on MTV when I was about 13 and thinking it was absolute trash. I thought the breakdown was too loose and noisy, and I didn’t understand why they were all just throwing themselves around out of time with one another. Not to mention the fact that to me they all looked like they dressed like dads. Every time it came on TV for about four years after that I’d turn it off!”
“Then one day an older friend was driving me somewhere and Pink Roses came on a mix CD he had burned, and it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. It was abrasive and melodic and totally immersive. The minute I got home that day I grabbed everything I could find by them off Limewire.”
“So by the time I really got into Worship And Tribute it was already four or four years old, but it was still definitely a record that broke a ceiling for me. It was so alien to the world of hyper-polished metalcore and pretty, safe alt-rock I was living in at that point. Since then I’ve joined the mob of Glassjaw fans experiencing the peaks and troughs of new music rumours and taster EPs. By this point I think they’re so high up on a pedestal of cult bands that even if Material Control is total garbage it’ll be lauded as a masterpiece. But I loved the first single from it, and I’m gonna find myself a nice quiet room on tour to get my good headphones out to give it a proper listen.”
ANDREW ‘DREW YORK’ DIJORIO, STRAY FROM THE PATH
“They’ve probably been my favourite band since I first heard them in middle school. It was actually our guitar player Tom Williams who introduced Glassjaw to me. We used to hang out in school and we had a group of friends who’d share music around. At that time, all I was really into was punk rock and pop-punk. So I’d be listening to Green Day, Lagwagon or ALL, or alternative stuff like Third Eye Blind and Silverchair. Tom and my other friends were into Incubus, Taproot and Deftones. So Tom showed me Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence and it was so all over the place it blew me away. The whole aesthetic of the band: they way they dressed, the artwork, their style, it all just connected with me.Being from Long Island as well, I don’t know, I just really attached myself to ‘em.”
“Obviously a lot of that stuff was dark and it was saying shit that I hadn’t heard before, in ways that I had never heard before. Lyrically, Daryl Palumbo has something special, you just know it’s him when you hear him too. “Even to this day, I can put that record on and it still sounds amazing. I love both of them almost equally though, I think. Maybe …Silence edges it, but it depends which day it is as I change my mind. They’re both so good. Put a gun to my head and I’ll probably say …Silence, but I can’t even pick a favourite song from it.”
“The first time I saw them live was probably at Warped Tour, when I was still going as a fan. But there was one time I saw them that was and still is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. There was a venue in Long Island called The Downtown and Glassjaw do secret things all the time to make you kind of work for it. So, they announced the show under a weird band name and nobody knew who it was, but word got round that it was them, and this venue that held maybe 300 kids was sold out within seconds. Seeing them in that 300-cap room with all my friends going nuts was great. I’ll never forget it.”
“To try to sum up how excited I am for Material Control, let’s just say that Christmas is December 1st this year for me! I’m psyched. Even all the little clips and teasers leading up to this have been great. They just get it right every time. Just reading the tracklisting, I got excited. They’re not trying to reinvent themselves, they’re fucking Glassjaw and they don’t need to! I have so much respect for that band and I always will.”
Material Control is out now on Century Media. Check it out below.
Oh, and pick up one of these:
Deaf Havana frontman James Veck-Gilodi will be performing solo at London’s beautiful St. Pancras Church for fans to view online.
YUNGBLUD will be taking his Life On Mars tour to North America early next year with support from Palaye Royale, Charlotte Sands, poutyface and UPSAHL.