The recent news that Glassjaw are heading out on tour with Coheed and Cambria has caused ripples of excitement. It’s the biggest commitment the band have undertaken in years and fans are already speculating about what this means. The last Glassjaw release was back in 2011 but that hasn’t stopped the band maintaining an unrivaled relevance. We got our pals to explain just why Glassjaw are so important.
Funeral For A Friend’s Matt Davies-Kreye is looking forward to Glassjaw’s return. “They’re a phenomenal band who have always been pretty unique in how they’ve developed live over the years.” Boston Manor’s Mike Cunniff shares that view, explaining that, “Glassjaw tours and shows are a total rarity. I believe that during their career they have never been able to tour as much as they would have liked to especially outside of the US due to Daryl Palumbo‘s constant struggle with Crohn’s Disease.”
“It’s exciting any time a band I’m a fan of starts playing shows after not being out for a while. I’m hoping to be able to catch a show,” reasons Night Verses’ Reilly Herrera while Tom Richfield from Hindsights is remaining cautious. “Glassjaw have a habit of cancelling so I’ll curb my enthusiasm. I’ve been hurt before…”
For a band described by some as the “best band of the last 20 years,” Glassjaw understandably mean a lot.
“They play their music with so much conviction and intensity,” starts Mike. “They are so loud but also so light and chill in places. They were (and still are) such an innovative, influential and important band in the scene. Daryl Palumbo’s constant battle with Crohn’s disease is well documented through their music. His pain and anguish can be heard in every single scream in ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence‘ and their musicianship is outstanding.”
“Well, to put it simply I love them. They’re an incredibly important band whose open, emotive hardcore caused a huge reaction in bands across South Wales during the early dawn of the millennium. I think they floored everyone,” explains Matt.
“In addition to their music being therapeutic for me when I was younger, Glassjaw has always written real and original music. That concept is SO lost in today’s ‘underground’ rock music it’s ridiculous. To have an original, heavy band in the current musical climate means a lot to me,” adds Reilly while Tom believes “They deserve a medal solely for helping to kill nu-metal, but they’re also one of first few bands to do post-hardcore (other than Quicksand) without being pretentious arts-degree bullshit.”
Influential is a phrase that’s casually tossed about but Glassjaw couldn’t be described as anything less.
“Glassjaw are such an experimental band and integrate a lot of different styles and influences in their music such as ambient rock, hardcore, post rock and jazz. They always taught me to go against the grain, pay more attention to dynamics and think outside of the box when writing songs. I like to think that our new material is heavily GlassJaw-influenced,” says Mike while Tom explains that “they have a broad pool of influences which I try to have too. They have a Jazz ear for rhythm and groove, but their NYHC roots mean they have an air of urgency and excitement about them.”
“One of our wary songs ‘The Getaway Plan‘ was a homage,” starts Matt. “I loved Darryl’s vocal style and the dynamic hardcore coming out of NYC that the band helped shaped a lot of the dynamics we used as a band in our early EPs.”
With a career spanning decades, there’s numerous entry points for Glassjaw.
“I remember seeing their music video for ‘Cosmopolitan Bloodloss’ and it was just something so different from what I was used to hearing,” reflects Mike. “I think at the time we were on the tail-end of the nu-metal era so it was so refreshing to hear something so different and sincere.” It’s a similar story for Tom. “I saw the video for ‘Cosmopolitan Blood Loss’ on MTV2 when I was a kid and didn’t understand it at all, but thought their moves were pretty cool.”
“I got into them through their previous bands and bands they would be associated with. We all knew Sons of Abraham, Stillsuit, Silent Majority and then they started getting features around the time ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence’ came out,” says Matt while Reily had a similar experience. “Our drummer, Aric, showed me a song off ‘Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence’ before practice years ago and I immediately was drawn to it.”
The band have released two studio albums and it’s a credit to their brilliance that they always split the vote.
“I love “Everything Your Ever Wanted To Know…” because of how visceral it is. It’s brutally beautiful,” says Matt and Reily agrees. “It’s a hard question, but I’d have to say “Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence.”
“’Worship and Tribute‘. Great production, less bile and angst, more brooding,” vouches Tom as Mike explains, “I want to say Worship and Tribute but the latest 3 EPs they released ‘El Mark‘, ‘Our Colour Green‘ and ‘Colouring Book‘ are some of the most musically interesting things that they’ve done. At that point in their career I feel like they were making music for themselves and writing songs that they wanted to hear whilst not adhering to any trends or standards set by the industry. That’s why their music will always be so timeless. You can really hear the passion and creativity in those EPs by a band bound by a sincere love for creating music and pushing boundaries and basically doing whatever the fuck they want. It would be nice to see more bands doing that.”
“I think a new Glassjaw album has been rumoured for almost a decade. They are one of the most enigmatic bands ever. I remember when they used to torment fans on MySpace by uploading vocal, bass and drum loops from sections of some of the songs they’d written with very little comment,” continues Mike. “From what I’ve read online, they were constantly let down by the music industry and had numerous problems with their label. They seemed to be riding back seat to bigger acts and at one point they were shelved forcing them to leave their label hence the self-released EPs. I would love to see a new Glassjaw album just to see how they’ve progressed musically.” Matt adds, “I don’t think anything needs to be looked at in terms of “albums” as such. Whatever they put out I’m happy they’re still making music,” and there’s a similar stance from Tom. “I’d rather they release good music sporadically rather than have to churn stuff out for the biennial album cycle. “
Glassjaw are clearly influential, exciting and with a stellar back catalogue but just what lifts them up and makes them so special?
“They’ve never given a shit about pandering to trends or pleasing their fans – both surefire ways to make your music sound dated a few years later,“ concludes Tom. Matt thinks it’s “because they’re an anomaly, because they don’t play the industry game like everyone else. I think that attitude really sets them apart.”
“Glassjaw retained their audience’s attention by writing music that connected with them,” starts Reilly. ”Despite other factors that probably play into their ‘cult-ish’ fanbase or whatever, I feel like it all starts and ends with the music, ultimately. The other stuff is important, but secondary to the music.”
“I think it’s because they are so enigmatic (probably not by choice) and they have so few releases,” reasons Mike. “Everything they have released is pure gold. I don’t think they’ve ever put out a bad/mediocre track. They definitely have a strong cult following not dissimilar to Brand New. Their music has stood the test of time because they have always been so fresh and original.”