“I loved the sound of doubled guitars, but it just becomes a slog. I couldn’t hate the process more… it goes right against the immediacy I wanted for this record”: Why Jawbox hero J. Robbins changed his attitude to recording… and smashing guitars

J. Robbins
(Image credit: Getty Images)

J. Robbins is your cult guitar hero’s guitar hero. Though he began his career in the mid-‘80s as the bassist for D.C. hardcore group Government Issue, he’s perhaps best known as the founding six-stringer of Jawbox. The latter outfit helped push the twitchy, noise-quirked melodicism of post-hardcore into the mainstream with their major label debut, 1994’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart – a record that managed to put them on the road with the Stone Temple Pilots.

After Jawbox imploded in 1997, Robbins kept pace with amp-cranking outfits like Burning Airlines, Channels and Office of Future Plans. He also worked behind the scenes as a producer on tone-saturated emo classics from Texas Is the Reason, Braid, Promise Ring and more. Jawbox themselves have reunited off and on since 2009.

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.