Death to Adidas rock

Long Island band proves that pretty boys can rock hard too

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Brick Works
Thursday, Nov. 7

Take a look at some of the publicity stills for the Long Island quintet Glassjaw, and you might easily believe the images are those of the next big boy band. Granted, in these photos the band members have been styled and primped, but still they look every bit the pretty-boy part.

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Confront guitarist Todd Weinstock with the fact that he and his sonic brethren are rather good looking, and he replies, “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” After a brief sigh he continues to elaborate. “I don’t know, that’s just how we look. It’s not like we purposely go out looking like a pretty boy band. I don’t think we’re that pretty, but I can definitely see where people would get that from. I mean we’re not Ozzfest dudes with braided goatees and dreads.” Weinstock’s voice trails off into laughter.

Despite the band members’ outwardly good looks, their music is anything but. In fact, it’s the complete antithesis. It only takes a quick listen to their latest album, Worship and Tribute, to dispel any thoughts of sugar coated pop ephemera. Glassjaw’s music rails, careens and skews violently with visceral, abrasive, and oft times downright uncomfortable sonic fury.

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The band’s producer, the infamous Ross Robinson, exclaimed that he and the band are trying to “destroy Adidas rock.” While it’s something of an ironic statement—Robinson has worked on a plethora of Nu Metal bands, ranging from Korn to Limp Bizkit—it’s also very true, given Glassjaw’s cacophonous output.

The album’s first track, “Tip Your Bartender,” sets the tone with skirling guitar riffs and an aural assault that unfolds like some John Zorn noise-enhanced experimental romp. The rest of the songs follow suit and require a few listens.

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“Absolutely, they take a few listens,” agrees Weinstock. “That makes you think, though. If stuff clicks on the first listen, there’s nothing to it.” He continues, “It’s weird. We’re obviously not going for just the quick hit. I think there’s some stuff on the record that can be played on radio and that a mainstream audience could understand, but that’s not what we’re going for at all. If something like that were to happen, that’s cool. But if not, that’s cool, also.”

To that end, Glassjaw’s mission is to create what Weinstock calls “timeless music"—a rather nebulous statement that could mean that either Glassjaw wishes to make music that can’t be pigeonholed into a specific time period or is looking to create music that transcends genre categorization altogether.

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“I think both,” clarifies Weinstock. “If you look back 10 years from now and listen to some bands from right now, you’ll know the fashions and you’ll know exactly what scenes they were from. I’m not gonna say any names, but certain bands you have to understand or be from that scene. I’m sure if you look at us 10 years from now, nobody will look like us anymore, but as far as turning on our record 10 years from now, we want it to still be relevant.

“We write music that we like, music that doesn’t really fit into any niche. We write the stuff that we want to write,” explains Weinstock. “It’s just music. We’re just trying to create music, not trying to fit into anything. I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

While the music of Glassjaw might not fit into any comfortable categories, hopefully it will reach a wider audience thanks to the group’s move from indie label Roadrunner to major entertainment conglomerate Warner Bros. This shift causes one to wonder how such an iconoclastic band will be able to maintain its music as a personal outlet for its creative impulses, especially in the face of being linked to a corporation like Warner. “They give us complete, complete control of everything,” exclaims Weinstock.

“They’re completely working with us in every sense. Nothing ever goes through without running it by us. They’re crushing every stereotype that anyone would think about a major label.”

Which brings us full circle again: Appearances indeed can be deceiving. The irony of this is not lost on Weinstock, who laughs, "Hey, maybe that should be the title of the article."