Punk Rock Content Featuring Gaslight Anthem, Jawbreaker and other bands that sing about driving around

Okay, Brendan Kelly (me) and the Wandering Birds (some other dudes who also have great schlongs [but not quite on the level of my awesome schlong]) have our first show ever this Saturday at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. You can go here to get tickets. Don’t be a pussy.


Before I begin today, I’m gonna try to spell my intentions out here overtly. I am only looking for attention in the same way I do every day, in that I put things out for public consumption, be they small movies, dumb songs or ranty blog post/article type things. I’m not looking to capitalize on any sort of other person’s success or notoriety and I feel strongly that in almost every situation that exists on this earth, my opinion is not newsworthy. I am NOT about to ‘defend’ anyone, and I’m not “speaking out” about anything. I’m just writing my dumb blog the way I do most days, by rambling about some topic that I feel like I have enough things to say about that it’ll be long enough to read over the course of a dump. So don’t attach me to this dumb story. I’m posting in the comments here, folks, just like everyone else. I just happen to have more space than some of you. Jesus.


Yesterday some people got a little bit upset when Coco from the Gaslight Anthem mentioned that he doesn’t think the Replacements and Jawbreaker have particularly strong catalogues. He further infuriated these people by suggesting that the evidence for this is in the numbers (ie, these bands would have sold more records if they were better) and topped it all off by proclaiming that Pearl Jam is awesome and visionary. People were pissed. The whole thing is a pretty classic myopic, punk rock exercise in trolling, revolting, pissing all over things and generally, I have so much to say on this that I don’t think I can even get to it all today.

What I’d like to discuss: 1) Why I think Coco’s assessment of these two bands is inaccurate (a three parter involving some correlations with Naked Raygun, among others) 2) What I think of an ‘irreverent’ subculture that takes its heroes so seriously (not much) 3) why I agree with Coco regarding Pearl Jam, even if I don’t particularly like Pearl Jam 4) some of the things I’m really pleased about regarding his interview 5) How Coco’s perspective, as someone who’s in the eye of a hurricane of success is skewed and probably gonna change dramatically at some point and finally 6) why I think Coco is kind of lying a little bit, but in a way that I fully back and am also guilty of (this ties very strongly into #1…so maybe we can just jump in and begin).

1) Jawbreaker and the Replacements are both important bands to people. This is not up for debate. There’s absolutely no reason that anyone should be forced to listen to either of these bands if they don’t like them, and there are plenty of reasons not to like them, but there’s no denying that when they came out they brought things to the table that were considered pretty mind blowing at the time. The Replacements enjoyed some just under the radar success as a highly destructive, totally awesome group of miscreants that had no choice but to burst into flames, and Jawbreaker imploded under the weight of what seems from the outside like some sort of god-poet complex that started to smell like farts when Dear You didn’t end up next to Ignition and Dookie in everyone’s record collections.

Jawbreaker was a great band BUT, and this is a big but, their music has not aged particularly well. When I think about listening to Jawbreaker now, it’s a little like reading a love note that I wrote to a girl when I was in high school. It’s saccharine and overwrought and generally, it’s a little embarrassing that I used to feel so strongly aligned with the sentiments therein. Countless bands that sheened up Jawbreaker’s sound and heartbroken-punk-poetry vibe (and that description right there is so nauseating that it illustrates this point better than I could hope to by using any sort of longer form prose) kind of ruined the effect of Jawbreaker retroactively, for one thing, and for another thing, music just kind of turned one way and Jawbreaker wound up on the other side. Naked Raygun was another visionary band that ended up on the other fork in the road from where cool music ended up evolving. They’re about 2 beats off from anything that’s truly timeless, though that’s not meant to be a negative. What I mean by that is that there’s no mistaking Dear You or any Jawbreaker record (besides maybe Unfun) for being anything besides 90’s alternative music. It sounds more than just a little like the shitty (and long gone) alternative rock that was the soundtrack to so many crappy movies and parties when I was in highschool and college. Does that make it bad? Absolutely not. It just means that listening to it with any sort of appreciation requires either A) perspective/context or B) a sense of nostalgia. To just come out and get what’s going on in a Jawbreaker record today, without either A or B would be pretty rough (this all applies to Naked Raygun too, though with different reference points, by the way). As a result, it’s easy to be dismissive about Jawbreaker’s catalogue, for a couple of reasons. In retrospect a lot of it’s kind of embarrassing (even if it wasn’t embarrassing at the time at all), and a lot of it doesn’t seem NEARLY as visionary as it did back then. A lot of it is out of tune. A lot of it is really, really cheesy.

And so, to look back, with the vision of hindsight, as someone who’s in a band that’s more successful than Jawbreaker ever was while they were together (I’m talking about Gaslight Anthem, folks), yes, I understand why Brian would say that they only  have a few good songs and a lot of bad ones (shit…did I call him Brian? I meant Coco!). Coco has the perspective now to see what he couldn’t see when he was a kid, smoking Chesterfield Kings and attempting to read some shitty book of poems because the songs on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy were pumping so hard in his veins. BUT….(I’m gonna skip around a bit here)

5) Right now Coco is enjoying success that most people never even dream of. He’s hanging out with his heroes and his heroes are genuinely stoked on hanging out with him. He’s got mountains of adoring fans. He’s living the dream and he’s, thus far, made all the right moves. This means he’s getting his dick sucked (figuratively) on a level that I can’t even imagine. Right now, Coco has made nothing but amazing albums that all have no shitty songs on them. You know how I know that? Because that’s what all his fans tell him, that’s what his crew tells him, that’s what his labels and managers and everyone on earth tells him. Sure, people say other stuff too, but I promise you that he’s heard, from enough people on both sides of him, from heroes to random fans, that he’s batting a thousand so many times that on some level, even if he’s humble (which, in fairness, he is) he thinks it’s at least kind of true. And right now it is. But Coco, in 20 years, do you think the Gaslight and Crowes catalogues are gonna hold up to the ravages of time? Better than the Replacements and Jawbreaker? Maybe. But shit, having ten songs by a band on your iPod is a lot of songs. I don’t have ten songs by very many bands at all on my iPod, and I can only think of one or two bands that have ten songs that I listen to with any sort of regularity, not just on my iPod, but period. Will Gaslight be that band for some people? Of course they will be. But they’ll also be the band that some kid (who LOVES Gaslight right now) will cherry pick the hits for nostalgia purposes onto his iPod (or whatever the fuck the music device is then) and subsequently distance himself from, saying “well, they had a few good songs.” That’s how it works, man. That’s music. That’s fandom. That’s being a kid and then being a grown up.

That’s why I love that Coco said that. It’s refreshing to see someone be honest about their consumption and it’s more than refreshing to see someone piss off a bunch of ‘anti-establishment’ dildos by expressing a perfectly reasonable opinion about some facet of their dumb pantheon of greatness. BUT, it’s also bullshit, and more than a little self serving and intellectually dishonest. Hell, I do the same thing. It’s unseemly to be tied to something you’ve outgrown, but you can’t shit on something that someone else loves and not expected to be called on it. That’s called PR, Coco. And though I know that you acknowledged that people were gonna be pissed off at your dismissal of these two ‘classic bands,’ that’s really nothing more than the same trolling that also includes the “wow, the kids are REALLY gonna HATE this new record” horse and cart that everyone who makes records trots out, (which I am also guilty of, by the way).

There’s something tantalizing about daring to suggest that you’re pissing people off on purpose by seeking out the truth, through art or words or opinions. Anger is paralyzing, and by wielding the Truth and thereby angering (and paralyizing) a bunch of bass-akward flat earther shithead fans, you (I) as an artist can feel smugly superior or excitingly naughty (<-that is purposely lame sounding, by the way). Then, when the shit hits the fan, you can say “aw man. See. Fuck Jawbreaker. They get me into nothing but trouble” and dismiss the whole thing as though it wasn’t just a wild hare specifically designed to make people stand up and scream at you.

Which is fine. I love that shit. Also, I haven’t listened to a Jawbreaker song in probably ten years, and I have never been a hardcore Replacements fan (though I am a casual fan, and strangely, I have Replacements songs on my iPod and no Jawbreaker songs). You don’t have to love shit, you don’t have to be tied to your ancient influences, but you also didn’t grow up listening to Pearl Jam, and just because right now you think Eddie Vedder is way cooler than Blake Schwartzenbach (true) and Paul Westerberg (not even close to true) and he likes your band, it’s disingenuous to bait motherfuckers like that. It’s funny, and I love it and back it, but it’s all part of the grander puppet show. It’s got no basis in fact.

Except for 3) that Pearl Jam IS the real band that revolutionized modern rock music. Nirvana gets the credit for what Pearl Jam did, but Pearl Jam is the more visionary, and ultimately the more influential band.  When I first heard Nirvana, they sounded to me like a very dirty, dissonant indie rock band, not completely unlike Sonic Youth, Superchunk or any of those types of bands that were already existing in the underground. When I first heard Pearl Jam, I remember distinctly thinking “holy shit! I have NEVER, EVER heard someone sing like that before!” I wasn’t ever a Pearl Jam fan, but that was mostly because I was already into punk rock and Pearl Jam seemed lame to me at the time (secretly, I think I liked Ten more than I let myself admit). Eddie Vedder, however, was worthy of notice because he singlehandedly (single throatedly?) changed the face of rock radio. His weird delivery, something that no one had ever really done before, is now synonymous with heavy rock/rock radio vocals. That vibrato baritone thing that everyone from NIckelback to Rise Against employs these days was literally invented by Eddie Vedder (and don’t give me that ‘Jim Morrison did it first’ bullshit. Firstly, Jim Morrison completely sucks and I won’t have his praises sung here and secondly, Eddie Vedder did something that was new. Just because he wasn’t the first person to have a deep voice doesn’t mean his style wasn’t completely his own) . HE changed rock music. I don’t turn on the radio these days and hear too much overt aping of Nirvana (I’m not denying Nirvana’s impact, so relax) but there are literally thousands of bands that directly and overtly copy Eddie Vedder’s vocal invention (or copy someone who copied it originally). He’s up there with Eddie Van Halen, in terms of innovation, but he will probably never get the credit he deserves because Nirvana, the vastly cooler band with the vastly better looking front man, happened to explode in such a glorious supernova right when shit was starting to get interesting.

That said, I don’t like Pearl Jam at all. But Coco is right about them. They’re important and innovative.  Huh…I think I covered all my points. Okay, I’m done rambling. Go get tickets to my show now.


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50 Responses to Punk Rock Content Featuring Gaslight Anthem, Jawbreaker and other bands that sing about driving around

  1. AndyNJ says:

    I think the thing that really pissed people off about Coco’s comments though is that he said it so matter-of-factly. He wasn’t just like “oh yeah, I’m not really that big of a fan of those bands. They didn’t hold up well for me.” He tried to make a subjective statement in an objective way and it came across in a “this is fact and I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you’re wrong” kind of way. He pretty much was just taking a piss on things that a large portion of his fans, especially the ones that have been around for the long haul, hold very dearly. He doesn’t have to like the same things his fans like, but he could respect that they do like it.

    Also, I’m assuming you’re aware of the fact that a lot of people consider the Lawrence Arms to pretty much be what Jawbreaker would have been if they were from Chicago and existed a few years later than they did. Not that that does or should change anything that you said, but you know, just saying.

    • Heathbar says:

      I think Mr. Fallon (I’ve never met him, so I certainly can’t call him CoCo) worded his response in that manner because the jab was directed at people that post on punknews.org. The majority of posters on that site present subjective opinions as objective fact on a regular basis. Either way, though, yes, it made him sound arrogant. However, I don’t know how anyone could have his level of success and not be a little full of themselves. I believe that was point 5. I don’t know, though, because Beex really fucked the order of his thesis on this one. Not that I’m complaining. The MLA is a bunch of fascists.

      • AndyNJ says:

        Yes, very true. However, as a somewhat prominent figure who people respect and is worthy of being interviewed and such, shouldn’t you behave in a manner that is a bit more mature than some internet commenters? Shouldn’t your words be more thoughtfully put together? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though Coco is a politician or this isn’t punk-rock, but we’ve all heard his lyrics, he’s good with words and, at this point, he’s emerged as a leader (to some degree) in the music scene. Shouldn’t he be rising above internet rhetoric?

        • Heathbar says:

          Agreed. That’s the PR portion of Beex’s points, but rising above the internet rhetoric would be to not take the jab in the first place. “Us” “Orgers” are just easy targets, and “we” represent a tiny portion of The Gaslight Anthem’s fan base. It’s actually a pretty funny statement because he is alluding to being a lot like the “orgers” while disagreeing with some of “our” widely held beliefs. Either way, the whole interview hasn’t changed my feelings about anything, and led to some entertaining banter. Mission accomplished?

  2. Jamie says:

    Solid evaluation. I think it is right that he get a little bit of kickback for making comments like that but at the same time I think it’s important to try and figure out what he was really getting at.

    TGA gets a lot of flack from “ex-fans” and “scenesters” for having success and being unapologetic about it. I think he’s probably just sick and tired of hearing from a community that he secretly hold very dear to his heart that his albums progressively suck more and more (which they don’t) ONLY because some assholes can’t handle the fact that good music attracts mainstream attention and we have to share sometimes.

    I know you get it. I just think there are a lot of elitist asshole fans in the punk rock scene who need to learn to keep their mouths shut and stop being so butthurt when their favorite band moves out of the basement.

    • AndyNJ says:

      I’ve been a TGA fan since they were called This Charming Man and I think they’ve been getting progressively better. I’m glad to see them get some success. I hate that going to see them costs three times as much as it used to and it’s only at bigger venues now, but I’m still excited for them.

      • Jamie says:

        Oh yeah, believe me my heart breaks at shows now.. I secretly want to keep them all to myself too but like you said, they’re still good and getting better, and it’s not their fault that people like em.

        Ticket prices on the other hand have a lot less to do with the actual band than it does the venue they’re playing and the promoter who has said venue’s nuts in a vicegrip. People unfairly assume that high ticket prices are the mark of a greedy band but truthfully the overheads on some of the places they play now are massive. I’d put money on him doing well but being FAR from millionaire status.

  3. highhorse says:

    You haven’t listened to a Jawbreaker song in ten years, but yet you horribly cover Kiss the Bottle at your shows? Something doesn’t quite add up there.

  4. live to cruise says:

    Brendans cover of kiss the bottle is great imo

  5. Born to Luge says:

    I feel the same way about Jawbreaker, though I wouldnt say they’re songs are crappy now (with the exception of the entirety of Unfun, some of Bivouac and quite a bit of 24hour revenge. OK, just about all of them. Nevermind about Jawbreaker).

    But the Replacements rule and always will rule. The fact that they are still alot of people’s favorite band (myself included), thirty years after their first record and twenty-ish years after they disbanded, shows more about their legacy than high record sales. I bet Modern English sold more records with that one song “I Melt With You” (Rad song) than the ‘Mats did in their entirety, but does anyone say they that Modern English changed their musical taste completely? They tried to get big with Dont Tell A Soul and failed pretty hard for whatever reason.

    I wasted 30 minutes of my day watching that dumb interview and the only real thing I took away was that the dude seems like an asshole. I don’t care about his opinions (he likes Vedder, for shit’s sake), but when 59 sound came out he seemed like a nice dude, now he sounds like a snarky poopdick.

  6. Ryan says:

    Having The Boss in your iPhone address book will turn you into an asshole

  7. jamie says:

    Coco and his fans sound a lil sassy. I cannot tell a lie: I try to replicate Eddie Vedder’s vocal technique in the shower every so often, so in that way I guess pearl jam is pretty influential.

    • Little Big Man says:

      closest I ever get to some Vedder shit is ‘Rock Vocal Power’ off Left of Self Centered. You a Butch fan at all Beex? No? What are you, fucking stupid?

  8. Donnie says:

    I don’t really care of he doesn’t like jawbreaker. The thing that got me was when he said “Don’t come up to me in 7 eleven, I’m from New Jersey.” He made it sound like his fans are creep for trying to talk to him or quoting his lyrics.

    Though the whole taking a photo of him fixing his door is really strange.

    • Sean B says:

      I think he’s just more predisposed to Wawa as they are a NJ staple and far superior to 7-11. So approach him in a Wawa and he’ll be cool.

  9. why not just be a mats diehard beex?aint hard.u fucking stupid or something?

  10. Shelby says:

    Great response.

    Thing is, Brian’s human, he has already apologized for his comments and I’m sorry but you can’t judge a guy on one interview. If he were a “regular guy” saying this in someone’s basement with a few people, no one would get so worked up over who he is as a person.

    And not to be “oh poor Brian” but I can’t imagine it’s easy to maintain a high level of humility when everyone’s telling you, you walk on water. So give it time. I can’t imagine Benny or the Alex’s will let his head get too big without knocking some sense into him.

  11. live to cruise says:

    I once saw the ramones open for pearl jam. It was pretty weird, every one was headbanging but there was like a 3 foot space between all people. Except where crowd surfing was going on. I hate crowd surfers, is anyone with me on this. Your watching your fav band and then u get kicked in the head or u have to stop watching your band shred to hold up some fat girl. Now if a crowd surfer comes near me I rip one of there shoes off and make sure they don’t get it back. I know that’s a Dick move but at least I’m not kicking someone in the head while they rock out.

  12. kanthackit says:

    I like how You’re so fucking politically correct nowadays B- it’s like the socks got u walkin on egg shells to explain your meaning for everything just so they don’t pick apart every word for some kind of hypocritical ammo they can fling back at ya in defense of their prideful Internet opinions. I say fuck the questioning. Were all entitled to our opinions, if they don’t like it- stop reading 🙂 On another note I saw Anti-flag gave u a shout out in the special thanks on their new Album. Too bad your names not Chris u could join the white wives lol.. They could use your help with the whiny-anything but gruff- lyrics…

  13. crease says:

    Ha, I was taking a dump.

  14. Wussy says:

    which is fine,i love that shit. Also, I havent listened to a jawbreaker song in probably ten years……except that one time i covered kiss the bottle!!!

  15. Tom says:

    I’m a big TGA fan, but… He came off like an arrogant know it all to me. I’m about 10 years older than Brian, grew up in the Northeast listening to punk and the boss as well,anyway. I saw a video of him covering a Replacements song”left of the dial ” I believe,and if I’m correct he played the “w/out the Replacements there’d be no TGA” card. A little odd is all.

  16. Robb says:

    “…and there are plenty of reasons not to like them”. And what would those be, pray tell? Having the general taste of a slim-hipped sensual Latino urbanite idiot? Being born with the name Ross Gardner? Look, this isn’t about what a despicable frizzy-haired pock-marked dipshit Scmarrzenback has irrefutably become. No, there aren’t “lots of reasons” not to like them, Brendan.

  17. Robb says:

    Tell ol’ Jenny Jonson Hi5ius to tale a lil’ tweet break, eh? I mean funny, yeah, but what a self-satisfied cunt. hehe

  18. Jim Jarmusch: Supreme Dipshit says:

    The interviewer stopping around the 15 min mark to play an excerpt from Film Noir just may be the most awkward fucking thing I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. I mean it blows away anything from your complete control interview, which had its share of nuggetz

  19. We Bought A Jew says:

    Oh gawd, again with this “uurm, eehh, w-weeeeell, he, he’s more s-s-successffulll than any o’ yOoooo dipshits” nonsense? …I mean, what? In a financial sense? Pushin mad copies? Big box office? We all know that doesn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny, so why even bother? My god, you can be such a twit.

  20. Robb's Mother says:

    I wonder why Robb is so angry with the world. Is this part of the meme whereby some who comment here have to be total pricks, such as being unduly disparaging about everything while shoving in totally arbitrary phrases as insults then not only somehow managing to think they’re funny but also actually laughing at their own jokes? Whatever, I guess!

    • mMm says:

      Mommy huh. You’re nothing if not original. I don’t know if there’s a “meme” so much as just more of a vague recurring pattern wherein if, say, one goes out of their way to make a statement like “There’s lots of reasons to not like what are arguably two of the more important/influential bands to exist” as though there’s a big argument to be made aside from (shitty) taste, and is then reprimanded for not providing any reasoning for said remark, some idiot then pops in to critique certain element(s) and/or the “approach” of said response (and often drop the same type of arbitrary insult, albeit less inspired/funny) while conveniently ignoring the issue that fueled the response to begin with. I have noticed that.

    • cravens mom says:

      That’s funny

    • kanthackit says:

      Ya Robbs lame. I second that

  21. ezb says:

    pearl jam sucks… jawbreaker is awesome imhhomf

  22. Glenn says:

    I think some people think too much about this shit. I’m sure Brian Fallon is an awesome guy. When you’re in his situation how are you supposed to know who is really your friend? He makes some time for his fans, for sure. My friends sister got her picture with him after he played the Revival Tour show in Philly. What do you want from the guy? Maybe he felt like it was a good opportunity to get the point across that he just wants to live like an average guy while he’s not on the stage? That, to me, is great. How is he supposed to keep producing music that people can relate to if he’s not living a life similar to theirs anymore? Also, some people obviously found his statements about The Replacements and Jawbreaker to be some pretty fucking brutal bashing, but the interview led to that conversation and he could have just been a big-ass phony and lied and said “oh, yeah, I love everything they do!” just to keep people happy. But no, he slapped people in the face with the big, sweaty cock we call truth. He was just sharing his honest opinion. These are just my thoughts at the moment and basically I would rather get the truth than hear what makes me “happy” no matter what the situation is. (for the record, just because I like getting the truth doesn’t mean I like getting slapped in the face with a big, sweaty cock. You get the idea…)

  23. ristoph says:

    I like Brian Fallon. I like TGA. I don’t care what Brian Fallon likes or dislikes. You probably shouldn’t either. People are carrying on like their brother fronted Jawbreaker, and they have some sort of right to be offended.

  24. beneaththewheel says:

    I remember an interview with Brendan Kelly basically saying “it’s stupid not being able to say bands suck”.

    If we’re in a world where bands I like have an obligation to think about PR when they speak about their opinions, then we’re in a shitty world (duh, I guess). I applaud people saying shit and perhaps making people who take their musical preferences too seriously sore. Making people sore about stupid things is fun. Wearing a band preference like people cheer for hockey teams or countries is stupid. I like to wear my band preferences to keep me warm at night.

  25. Demopn says:

    Who gives a fuck about anyone’s opinion. Just because some rock star spouts his opinion doesn’t give him the ability to alter yours. Tastes and criticisms are mutually exclusive. Sorry Beex, but Jawbreaker is a great band, and Pearljam is cheesy. Come on “Jeremy?” there did I change your mind?

  26. Matty says:

    Dear You is a cool album but my favorite stuff that Blake Schwarzenbach did is Jets to Brazil’s Perfecting Lonliness. So fucking good!

  27. Ooh look at all these comments.

    I think its a bit strange to talk about how “dated” Jawbreaker sounds if you havent bothered to listen to em for ten years. Know what I’m sayin?

    I think any band/musician that has been around for a while has material that could rightly be deemed as cheesy, no matter how good or bad it actually is. Comes with the territory of being very serious about something (Propagandhi), or even doing the complete opposite (Blink 182). I can’t even think of a cheeseless example, off the top of my head.

  28. There have been 43 comments so far. This leads me to believe that the Replaacements and Jawbreaker are still influential and important. But, suddenly I can totally see why Pearl Jam is even more so. This opens up my eyes just wide enough so they can get fucked. Odd stuff, but completely true. Plus, the Jam is a model of how a band should evolve and keep on making music (as opposed to the Replacements ad Jawbreaker, who were exact opposite examples of this). Anyway, I have hundreds of songs by Paul Westerberg and Blake SWHEUDBFRGFJVGJGIGHEIFBUIFRIBACH on my ipod, but Eddie Vedder is not allowed and never will be.

  29. keith says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. BUT who gives a shit what the dude from gaslight anthem says? I’m a huge Springsteen fan, but gaslight anthem is terrible. They will never be as important to as many people as the replacements, jawbreaker, nirvana or pearl jam simply because all of those bands were original. Gaslight serves as a conduit that will introduce a younger generation to their influences and by extension get lost in the shuffle. Bruce Springsteen is good, aping him is sexy now, but it won’t be for long.

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