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Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach on the Emo-Meets-Zeppelin Magic of “Accident Prone”

Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach on the Emo-Meets-Zeppelin Magic of “Accident Prone”
Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach on the Emo-Meets-Zeppelin Magic of “Accident Prone”

On this week’s Shred With Shifty, Chris Shiflett is joined by one of his all-time favorite players: Blake Schwarzenbach, the 6-string architect behind California punk band Jawbreaker’s simple, noisy, orchestral rippers. But before things really get rolling, Shifty gets his heart broken as Schwarzenbach squashes rumors that Jawbreaker might have a new record in the works: “There’s no truth to it,” he says.

Shifty and Schwarzenbach talk about the band’s trajectory up to and after Dear You, their major-label breakout record which ditched their indie punk-rock production style for a slicker sound. But some of the band’s fans didn’t approve of the perceived sell-out—a concern Schwarzenbach thinks isn’t so present nowadays. “Selling out is not a concern I think for younger people in a way that it was in our time,” he says. “Selling out seems to be this weird virtue.” Schwarzenbach remembers recording at the same studio as fellow Bay Area punks Rancid and realizing Jawbreaker would be left in the dust: “It was clear to me who was gonna win,” he grins.

Schwarzenbach admits he’s not a virtuoso lead player, but over the years, the augmented, melodic chording of Jimmy Page blended with the elemental intensity of ’80s D.C. hardcore to create his unique style, which uses octaves and drone notes to build melody and discord at the same time. He recalls the original recording rig on “Accident Prone,” including a Sovtek Big Muff, a white Les Paul, and a hot-rodded Marshall JMP. Then, playing a Gretsch Tennessee Rose Chet Atkins 1963 reissue, he guides Shifty through the tense riffing on the track. When Shiflett suggests there’s an element of complexity to the part, Schwarzenbach corrects him: “Chris, I’m afraid what you’re going to find out in your podcast here is that what you think is finesse is just sloth.”

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Producer: Jason Shadrick

Executive Producers: Brady Sadler and Jake Brennan for Double Elvis

Engineering Support by Matt Tahaney and Matt Beaudion

Video Editors: Dan Destefano and Addison Sauvan

Special thanks to Chris Peterson, Greg Nacron, and the entire crew.