We pick up part two of our interview with Jawbreaker's/Blackball Record's Adam Pfahler, right where part one left off (logically). In our second section Pfahler and interviewer Rich Verducci discuss the potential Jawbreaker documentary, legal woes and even have time to touch on the hazy definition of "org-core". For those interested you can pick up the reissue of Unfun here or check out some of the vintage Jawbreaker t-shirts (which are discussed in this interview) here.
I wanna really quickly talk about the Jawbreaker documentary. Has it been in the works, I donât know if its, still in the works, but whatâs the status of that?
It is. Itâs still in the works. Keith and Tim are these guys whoâve been working on these things for over 3 years, maybe longer, I donât even know at this point. But, we just kind of do it when the cash is available? No one is paying for the making of this movie, so…Keith just recently had a baby, him and his wife had a kid and Tim has been working a lot doing a lot of skate and snow board videos. So, these guys have jobs and they have lives and, they just sort of do this thing, when we can do it, like you do and I donât know when itâs gonna get wrapped up. They spend a lot of time back east and so they go to San Francisco together and they got Chris (Bauermeister) at his place and they got me here at San Francisco so thereâs plenty of us and I was really hoping to get some of the people I thought were crucial to our world. I want them to talk to some people who recorded us, and some people like booking agents, our tour manager, people that were around. To help tell the story.
Because God knows, however this thing gets cut together, it still could be totally fucking myth making or, like some "Behind the Music" that you saw. Although I'm not actually worried about that because Keith and Tim are really cool guys. They made the Minute Men documentary which is great and I really have a feeling that this is just gonna be a cool thing for people that know the group and there will be a lot of live footage in there and then, I am pretty certain that, whatever our story is, itâll gonna come out naturally, hopefully. I'm not really sweating it.
I can see why youâd wanna have other people in there so it doesnât seem just like you guys talking about you. You want to get other peopleâs perspectives.
Right, and itâs weird and Iâve said this in an interview recently. Its weird talking about yourself. You know becauseâ¦ itâs just, its very strange. Youâve got to evaluate. Thatâs why I kinda like that you called me and I wasnât ready for it you know.
Well good, Iâm glad that you got a little bit of spontaneity in it.
A little, but even then I sometimes worry Iâm just talking by routine. Just doing like, "ah yeah, blah blah blah."
At least once during the process of the documentary, you guys got together and played.
Oh right, yes.
I know there wasnât a video of it, but I believe that there was supposedly audio of that?
Yeah, ahhh, Shawn, who was running the studio while we were filming, he rolled tape. I have it. It sounded remarkably good to me, because it had been so long it couldâve been really, really, really, nasty. So, I was surprised and kinda jazzed that it sounded pretty good, like, "Alright, we still have it. We still have these songsâ¦ just kinda living, in our souls." It could have been like, we couldnât remember some of the parts or we couldnât remember some of the transitions and stuff but it sounded, all in all, like we were out of tune and a little sloppy butâ¦
For not playing them for so long it could have been really bad.
Yeah, it could have been worse. I mean, its not something that am gonna put out or anything, but hearing it back, its really pretty cool. We did kind of hard ones. We did like "Bivouac" and "Parabola," "Condition Oakland." We didnât take easy songs.
Well, I would say you have easier songs. I wouldnât say thereâs definitely easier bands to learn soâ¦
When I mentioned this to a friend he said, "You gotta ask if theyâre going to put that out." So Iâm assuming youâre just going to be holding on to those for the meantime.
Yeah, I mean itâs not a great recording. I sent it to Blake, I sent to Chris just to have as a memento. Itâs like a so-so photograph of that session. But the recording quality isnât that great and weâre certainly not totally on point. But, you know, not bad for many years have gone by.
Whatâs cool about it, was that, it wasnât like totally pre-mediated. The idea was going into the studio is talk to Billy Anderson about his work that he did with us and to maybe show individually how some parts are put together. It's like a "how to" things, show how it comes together and maybe, maybe in the back of my mind if itâd be fun to play but I certainly it wasnât totally banking on it . So when it did happen, it was cool, very refreshing
So before I wrap up, I wanna ask one question thatâs kind of not Unfun related but probably still job related. You have acquired the rights to Dear You, Is that correct?
Uh, sort of.
I donât own it outright. I licensed it.
Ah, so technically, [Geffen] still own the over-all rights to it?
Right. They own it. Like if you buy that thing on iTunes, theyâre getting their money. If you buy the records or CD, thatâs me.
Ah, ok. Was that hard to do? Because I know thereâs a lot of bands, specifically in the 90sâ, where basically theyâd sign deals with majors and then they put out an album or whatever, lost contract or broke up and then lose their songs. Is it possible to get the rights to it?
Yeah, yeah, totally. You know, itâs really hard. You just have to have a really good lawyer and you have to have a lot of money, because theyâre gonna want money from you if you want to buy your record back. Even if you want your license to your record back, theyâre gonna want an advance on the money youâre gonna make in the future on that record.
Assuming that there is money.
Theyâre not in any kind of business of giving stuff away, thatâs what they told me right out and they were very clear about that. I still try every year to get that record back. Like totally get it back. But, it hasnât happened yet. I know that Kim (Coletta) got the Jawbox record back from Atlantic.
Presumably, Iâm not entirely positive about this, but I am almostâ¦Iâm pretty sure they got them back totally. They just bought them right back and put them out themselves. Like they own those records again, which is great. But, those people get paid at those labels to keep their property in check, even if theyâre not using them. That was the shame of it, was that let that, they let Dear You just fucking languish in obscurity, for eight years without even bothering to press the thing. Just because it hadnât done well right out at the gate. Then I came along and basically, gave them the money they wanted for the license and I put it back out and then, boom all these people bought it again. There are actually, all these new people bought it.
Itâs great that people can see the album properly. Probably one of the best things is it has kinda retroactively become a hit.
Yeah, no it isâ¦and, you canât imagine how strange that is to be us and get that and get still feel vindicated after many years later, its very strange. But, but we're super stoked about it.
Yeah, I guess again, better late than never.
Yeah for sure. I mean Blake could be out in Jets to Brazil and people would come up to him and be kind of half apologetically like, "Oh, man you know, it took me a while, but I really like Dear You. It has truly become one of my favorites and lives in my car." So he was getting a lot of that and he would report back to me and be like, "Yeah, people are kind of back in that record."
One last question, this is as long as were on legal issues and all, then I will let you go. But the iconic Jawbreaker shirt logo that I see everywhere is the Jawbreaker name with the Mortonâs Salt girl.
And I was curious if you guys ever had any runs in with [Mortonâs Salt].
Of course. Yeah, Cinder Block printed that shirt for me, and it became popular and then sure enough it got back to them and they sent us a cease and desist letter. So. Cinder Block had to stop printing those shirts
Thatâs too bad. I donât think about Mortonâs Salt having lawyers but I guess, any big company, you know?
Yeah totally. I mean if I would have changed a design a little bit more. I already changed a little bit in just, the play out of words cuz, "When it pains that roars" instead of "rains" and "pours." That wasnât enough. Like if I would have given the girl devil horns or pumpkin head or mustache or something, I might have gotten away with some petty laws. I could have been covered maybe, but because we just used that sort that straight up logo, I guess they werenât into it. Which I thought was kinda sorry becauseâ¦ itâs just cartoon you know, theyâre not gonna sell less salt just because Jawbreaker fans have them on their shirt you know.
(laughs) Like someone would see that and be like, "No more salt!"
"Iâm done with it."
"Iâm over it."
Anyhow is there anything else you would want to say before we go?
What is "Orgâ¦Uhâ¦core"? What does that mean? Someone told me that we started "Org-Core"? Is that true?
"Org-core" isâ¦for Punknews.org itâs the foundational bands of the listeners or the readers of this site, I guess. Its weird cuz you guys deviate from a lot of what I would consider traditional "Org-core" but, youâre definitely on there. The traditional bands they get listed a lot are like Hot Water Music, Dillinger 4 ummâ¦. Leatherface gets mentioned a lot. A lot of the, sort of gruffer, Gainesville kind punk bands as well. But, Jawbreaker for some reason has also worked their way in there.
Ok, I could, I can handle it.
Yeah, thereâs definitelyâ¦itâs not a bad term. Well, it depends onâ¦
Ok, I didnât know, that it was. Somebody just brought it to my attention and like, "Itâs one of those sites," and I was like, "I didnât know. Are [the readers] dissing me or paying attention [to us] or what?"
No, it just depends on how you view the readership of Punknews. Some people might mean it as an insult.
Right, there you go.
As they are our readers, Iâm gonna say theyâre good people.
All right, well, thank you so much for taking time out and I mean it. It was great.
Awesome, thank you.