Categories: Interviews

Glassjaw makes it without really trying

When producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Limp Bizkit) was courting Glassjaw, hoping to sign the New York rock group to his Roadrunner-distributed IAM Records, guitarist Beck could only laugh in his face. He didn’t think the man was serious.

“It’s pretty funny,” Beck said recently. “I said, ‘You want to sign us? You sure about that, guy?’ “

The last laugh isn’t on Robinson, who produced the group’s uncompromising debut album, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence” (released May 9), and helped secure the quintet the coveted spot as the opener on the Deftones’ two-month U.S. tour.

Beck meant no disrespect to Robinson, who masterminded Slipknot’s unlikely ride to platinum success. It’s just that he never expected to make a living doing what they do best: make equally gnashing and melodic rock.

“We grew up in the hard-core scene, and everything’s DIY, totally do-it-yourself,” Beck said. “Growing up in different bands and being in Glassjaw since I was 14, it was almost like a good thing that you were an unsigned band. The hard-core punk scene wasn’t in that. We had friends who were on Roadrunner and they parted ways, and they were our older peers. It wasn’t a rock-star dream; it was just something that came and went. You’d see a band get signed, you’d see a band get dropped.

“Being signed is great, and we’re definitely very privileged to be in a position where we are, but we never intended this to happen, so we’re trying to have fun with it. Worst-case scenario, I go back to school and work at a bowling alley.

“Still, we’ve been given this opportunity, and we have to take it positively. We’re young kids and we like to putz around, so we don’t take it too seriously.”

Beck remembers asking Robinson, “So … why did you sign us? We’re nothing like anything you’ve worked with. What do you really want with us?”

“The way he explained it to us, he thinks that we’re something new to the table,” Beck said. “He calls us ‘post-millennial destroyers of Adias rock.’ He thinks we’re something new and sincere and he totally put all his faith in us.

“He was like, ‘You have complete control of your whole destiny … your music, your merchandise, whatever you want to do. You have complete reign.’ How can you turn that down?”

Weaned on Bad Brains and Faith No More, Beck and his band mates – vocalist Daryl Palumbo, guitarist Todd N. Weinstock, drummer Sammy Siegler and bassist Manuel Ragoonanan Carrero – don’t mind if fans consider them a young Deftones.

“If someone said, ‘You sound like Deftones,’ I wouldn’t get insulted,” Beck said. “I would think it’s a compliment. Out of all the famous mainstream bands, they’re the best band, and they deserve anything they get. They have such a good sound, and they’re good people. We have similar influences. The first day we met them, we sat down and asked them about their influences, and they said Bad Brains, Faith No More. All their favorite bands are our favorite bands.

“We’ve been established since like 1993. I was 14 and Daryl was 13, so we’ve always done this style. It’s weird how we morphed into a similar sound (as Deftones) on total different coasts. They’re five years ahead of us, as far as age and experience. They’re like the older version of us.”

Beck doesn’t want to think about the implications of opening for Deftones, which debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart last month.

“I don’t want to hear about any expectations,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. We’ve had a lot handed to us, and it’s scary, like the Deftones tour and getting signed. A lot of bands, they’ll send out demos, get a manager and go through the whole process. We never asked for any of this, and it’s scary how easy stuff comes to us.”

Finally, Beck wants to clear up any confusion. His full name is Justin Beck, but his friends began calling him Beck long before the more-famous Beck first appeared.

“Except for maybe our bassist and my mother, nobody calls me Justin,” Beck said. “It’s like Sting. When the hell did Sting decide to call himself Sting? Did he just wake up one morning and say, ‘I’m going to call myself Sting’?

“My father’s name is Jeff Beck, so he gets harassed wherever he goes, too. People are like, ‘Are you Jeff Beck?’ ‘Yeah, I’m Jeff Beck.’ ‘But are you THE Jeff Beck?’ ‘Yeah, I’m Jeff Beck.’ They say, ‘Dude, can you sign this for me?’ He’s like, ‘Why? I’m just a textiles salesman.’ ‘But you said you were THE Jeff Beck.’ ‘But I am Jeff Beck!’ “

THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “In the same week, I was in third grade, I went out with my mom and I bought ‘I’m the Man’ by Anthrax, and then I went to this metal store and I got Poison’s ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In.’ My mom’s like, ‘Are these girls?! What is this?’ My neighbor was the local hair bag, drove a Camaro, smoked cigarettes and listened to Ozzy and Anthrax, so it was inevitable that I was going to pick it up sooner or later.”

THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “It was at Jones Beach with my parents and we saw Cyndi Lauper. I was just going because my sister wanted to go, and I got punished for making fun of it and my sister got upset. My first hard-core show was when I was in seventh grade and Vision of Disorder was playing at a club in the ghetto on my block. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “D’Angelo’s ‘Voodoo.’ That’s a great record. He’s bringing back real R&B. I’ll listen to everything from Dillinger to Ben Folds Five. If it’s good music, I’ll listen to it.”

BWF (before we forget): www.glassjaw.com.

Gerry Galipault @https://twitter.com/Pauseandplay

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

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