Thrash Hits

December 21st, 2009

Band of the Decade: Glassjaw

Glassjaw promo photo Thrash Hits

Glassjaw
Peak: 2001
Era: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence

What have Glassjaw done in the 2000s?

Glassjaw’s decade is one characterized by inactivity. They saw the decade start with the release of the rapturously-received Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence (2000), following it up with Worship and Tribute (2002). However, since then it’s been a career of fits and starts for Glassjaw.

Touring and promotion of both albums was severely disrupted due to frontman Daryl Palumbo’s affliction with Crohn’s Disease – an inflammatory bowel condition that inflicts crippling pain on its sufferers. Somewhat ironically, a side-effect of this is that on the rare occasions when the band do manage to perform live, the scarcity of Glassjaw live shows drives demand for tickets through the roof. It was not unusual for fans to pay hundreds of pounds for tickets, with some even traveling across the globe to catch a glimpse of Glassjaw playing live.

Glassjaw Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence cover artwork packshot Thrash Hits

Palumbo became further side-tracked by his Head Automatica side-project. However, seeing as Head Automatica have now released as many albums as Glassjaw, it’s debatable whether they still count as a ‘side’-project at all.

A download-only EP of Glassjaw b-sides, El Mark (2005) surfaced a few years back, as has word from the band that EP of new material has also been recorded. However, since no news about this has broken since the summer, it seems unlikely it will surface this side of 2010.

Why are Glassjaw one of the most important rock acts of the past decade?

Like most of the bands in this series, to pigeonhole them with a genre-tags is doing them a disservice. With ‘post-hardcore’ a vague piece of terminology at the best of times, to align Glassjaw with that particular label undermines the wiry muscularity Glassjaw brought with their music. Though he may be somewhat derided these days, it was the thick production provided by nu-metal supremo Ross Robinson that gave the album the stamina to hold its own among the pretenders – of which there would be many – that followed in Glassjaw’s wake.

And although the band might disagree, it was Glassjaw that marked the start of Roadrunner Records ascendancy to the titanic force (for good and ill) they are in metal today. Palumbo and his main co-conspiritor in Glassjaw, Justin Beck, might both have openly criticised the label’s handling of the release of Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence (a dispute that seemingly ended with Palumbo’s involvement in 2005’s Roadrunner United project), but it was at least in-part Roadrunner’s marketing muscle that gave that gave the band the inital leg-up they needed to become cult heroes. The fact that an alleged “weak” marketing effort from the label could still produce such huge ripples of interest among both fans and critics indicates that this was a label on the rise.

Watch the video to ‘Ape Dos Mil’ by Glassjaw

Gustav from Young Guns had the following to say about Glassjaw:

“Seeing them support Deftones at Brixton on the White Pony tour, they were so intense but articulate with their aggression, which really appealed to me. Having the [Highbury] Garage date rescheduled and moved again and again also sticks out in my mind. My favourite Glassjaw song is probably ‘Ape Dos Mil’ – it’s just such a beautiful song – but for rowdiness, ‘Cosmopolitan Blood Loss’. I’m more of a Worship and Tribute man.”

What is the legacy of Glassjaw?

The echoes of Glassjaw can be heard across the UK at grassroots levels. They gave a giant, two-footed dropkick to the teeth o the notion that post-hardcore bands needed to be a bunch of wet blankets. The introspection and naval-gazing of the genre was tipped on its side by Palumbo’s red-hot lyrical missives at the way the world, women, and his bowel disease have generally fucked with his life.

One of the areas that Glassjaw’s influence was most obviously felt was in the burgeoning South Wales scene that gave rise to prominence some of Britain’s biggest homegrown acts this decade. The echoes of Palumbo and co could immediately be heard in Funeral For A Friend’s Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation (2003), and although Lostprophets debut LP bristled with abrasive nu-metal edges, from Start Something (2004) onwards there were definite shades of the ‘jaw in there.

Of course, some would say that Glassjaw are in part responsible for inspiring a truck-load of emo bands into thinking they can just write third-rate pop music and get away with it because they’ve got a few guitars and and an arm or two of tatts between them, but that’s neither here nor there.

What is next for Glassjaw?

With an as-yet-unnamed EP (and an alleged album) waiting in the wings, 2010 could finally be the year that Glassjaw re-emerge from their self-imposed exile. Palumbo, however, has also confirmed that a whole new Head Automatica record, Swan Damage, is ready for release, so the wait for the next Glassjaw release might be a little longer than we thought.

As far as live performances go though, 2010 looks much more promising. The band are supporting Brand New on some of their forthcoming arena dates, including the Wembley Arena show here in the UK, with some Glassjaw headline shows pencilled in either side.

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Check out the rest of our End of the Decade coverage.

Are you a Glassjaw fan? Has anyone ever managed to see them perform live? Will they ever get their bloody act together and release another record? Tell us below.

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