Darryl Palumbo Of Glassjaw Talks Material Control, Touring and Longevity

Glassjaw has been one of the most enduring and beloved bands to ever come out of New York City. The band hit the scene from Hempstead, Long Island and immediately made an impact locally and beyond. Their 2000 album Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence is still essential listening. Now two and decades later, the band is as fresh and important as ever, with their recent album Material Control (Century Media). The band is wrapping up their current tour with their brethren in Quicksand before heading over to Europe. We caught up with vocalist Darryl Palumbo to discuss the longevity of the band, the experience of touring as a veteran band, the challenges they face, playing the newer material live and some important milestones coming up for the band.

We started off chatting with Darryl about the current tour, and gravity of Glassjaw and Quicksand on tour together in the eyes of the fans has not been lost on him.

It’s been great. A lot of fun. We had some problems with our transportation which is a pain in the ass. But Quicksand are amazing guys. I’m honored to be played with them. And the crowds have been just awesome. Can’t complain.

For a music fan and a New York guy from that early 1990’s post-New York Hardcore scene, it’s almost like a dream lineup between these two bands.

Oh yeah. As a new New York guy, it’s pretty special to be on it. It’s an honor. They are one of our biggest influences. One of our top one or two bands that made me and Justin (Beck) start the band twenty-five years ago.

 

It’s also pretty great that both bands are still killing it and have new music out right now.

Yeah, It’s great to be playing any of this stuff. It’s great to see the kids going crazy every night, and for Quicksand’s set as well. I could watch them every night for the rest of my life.

 

Is it tougher touring now as opposed to back in the day?

It’s definitely a tough adjustment. I don’t particularly enjoy being on the road, but I do enjoy playing shows. I enjoy doing that. It feels like an old familiar glove to slip on. It’s difficult being away from the things that mean a lot to me, from our everyday lives. But its’ a familiar mindset. It’s unavoidable. Within ten minutes, you just snap into that version of yourself. However long you need to it.

I’ve been talking to some friends in Europe and they are really excited you are coming back for a tour, not just a surprise show. The hype is real for that O2 Brixton Academy show.

It’s super exciting. We go back to do a lot of festivals and low-key club shows when we can. Brixton, we really love. People talk about their “second home”, but I feel like England was a first home for us in a lot of ways. England welcomed us with open arms from our very first show there as a band. We didn’t know what to expect, but it really shaped us ever since. Especially Brixton is always a crazy, crazy experience for us to play.

We’ve heard about the ghosts of Brixton. Not just the spirit of past bands, but real ghosts!

Maybe I will get pantsed on stage by a ghost! (laughs)

Glassjaw has always impressed us by being really D.I.Y. and has done things in their career in their own way. Uncompromising, driven and stayed true to their values.

Thanks. We did try to do it our way, but also we try to be smart and sensible. We never try to be overexposed or too visible, whether it’s our hometown or the UK. We never play too many times, so the shows can be special. We never want to over-saturate our fanbase. We never try to be in your face too much, either on a big tour or a little surprise show.

 

Material Control was surprise-dropped at the end of last year to critical acclaim and a big fan reaction too. Does that still mater at this stage?

Of course. It all matters. I am not the biggest fans of any sort of critic. “Let’s critique art for a living.” But it is all important. We’re not still doing it to make shit, and we’re not making it to scare kids away. The kids are going crazy for it (the new material) every night. And we’re not too old to still make heavy, impassioned music. The physical and emotional elements are there, and we definitely wouldn’t still be playing music this heavy or impassioned as ours is, if the crowd reception didn’t happen. It’s great to see this kind of reaction to the brand new material when we have played the same fucking material year after year.

The band has not toured as heavily as in the past, but do you ever worry about getting burned out, and the songs feeling burdensome?

I hope not. Oh, we’ve been there. I’ve been there plenty of times. We added plenty of new material in the set list. We like to switch up the set list a lot. On our last tour, we were doing a lot of off dates, and we really went in deep on the new material. It was great to see the kids super-receptive to it and learning the words before we got there. It was great. It’s fun right now. The record is still new. Everything is still revealing itself, choosing where it needs to go, almost by itself.

It’s a few years away, but it’s crazy to me that 2020 will be the 20th anniversary of Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence. Will the band do anything to mark the occasion?

I’m sure there will be something. We are sentimental about these little anniversarys or cute little album birthdays. Hey, it’s our twenty-fifth anniversary this year! It was just the 16th birthday of Worship and Tribute a few weeks ago. It’s all crazy! These things come up and blow my mind. Not that Justin and I didn’t think we would last this long, but when you are a little punk or hardcore band, you are not thinking 30 years into the future. We’re not Celine Dion here. You’re not thinking about a career or turning 40 while in this band. I’ve never thought that far ahead. But any of these little birthdays are far out.

 

Glassjaw plays the final date of their co-headline tour with Quicksand at Brooklyn Steel on August 3rd. Enter our contest and win a pair of tickets to see Glassjaw in London at the O2 Brixton Academy.

KEITH CHACHKES