If you saw director Michael Cuesta‘s recent feature film, L.I.E., you saw the guys in Glassjaw: upper-middle-class kids raising hell in Long Island. “I don’t need to see the movie, I know all about that car park,” singer Daryl Palumbo says, referring to the underage hustlers who loiter along the Long Island Expressway rest stops. “They come right up to your window and ask you if you wanna fuck.” For the record, the band are not hustlers. The point is that for these seen-it-all native New Yorkers, nothing‘s shocking.
Regarding Glassjaw’s brand-new album, Worship and Tribute, the title is key. “Someone told me once that collage is the art form of the 20th century,” says Palumbo. “That blew my mind, because when you think about it, you are the sum of your influences. Anyone who says different is straight-up lying.” Palumbo‘s eagerness to acknowledge inspirations — everyone from Elvis Costello to Tori Amos — is curious when you consider that, practically in the same breath, he nearly contradicts himself: “I know that the music we make is our own — there’s not a fuckin‘ person out there who sounds like us.”
No, there’s nothing in all of hard alternative like the bipolar textures of Worship or 2000‘s Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence, where the stick-thin Palumbo is apoplectic one second and a quivering heap of jelly the next. His band mates — lead guitarist Justin Beck, second guitarist Todd Weinstock, bassist Dave Allen and drummer Larry Gorman — execute their singer’s vision with precise ferocity. Palumbo will go as far as hopping on the drum kit or strapping on a guitar and saying, “I want the song to go like this.”
Knowing his musical blueprint will be strictly followed, Palumbo surrenders to his twin muses of romance and illness. About the first, the pain dealt him by the opposite sex has marked him for life. Much has been made of his use of the word whore in Silence tracks “Pretty Lush” and “Lovebites and Razorlines,” for which — in the heat of one particular live performance — he substituted cunt. When people got wind of Palumbo‘s misogyny, the band was thrown off a music festival lineup in Louisville earlier this year.
“I was 18 when I wrote that,” he says. “And I’m sorry. I admit that I was too wrapped up in my own feelings. I also understand that I will be hurt again in the future, but I‘m more equipped to deal with it.” As far as physical ailments go, Palumbo has suffered his entire life with Crohn’s disease, a disorder of the colon that can lead to death from internal bleeding. “I‘m amazed that I got through Sno-Core [last spring with Linkin Park]. Touring’s a nightmare for us because I‘m always having to rush off to the hospital. A lot of times I think, ’I‘m just a good little Catholic boy. What did I ever do to deserve this?’”
Glassjaw could tap a third source of anguish and get several albums‘ worth of songs out of their hellish experiences with the music industry. “When we started this band, we didn’t make demos or try to get signed or anything,” says Palumbo. “We were total hardcore kids, but now I feel like we know way more than half these clowns do. Some big programmer at whatever station will sit there and jock me just because I look 15. I‘ve already been through this, so I love it when label people suck my dick. I mean, I hate to think of my band as a business, but at this point we have to at least be business-conscious and not get cheated like we did.”
Luckily, producer Ross Robinson bought out the band’s Roadrunner Records contract (“paying much more for the band than we were worth at the time,” Palumbo says), and secured them a deal with Reprise. “We love Ross. There was no way we were gonna have anyone else [produce Worship]. A big misconception about him is that he‘s only into this West Coast bounce-rock thing. He is responsible for the nu-metal Korn-type sound, but he’s trying to get away from that. And hopefully our record will destroy that perception.”
Fast-forward three weeks and Palumbo‘s a new man, still buzzing over Glassjaw’s CBGB show the previous night. “Kids were swinging from the rafters — it was bananas.” Seems like the frenzied pace and nonstop energy of their hometown is the only place the band can ever be truly happy. The covers of Worship‘s promo copies were even stamped with a seal that read “Made in New York.” Hey, Daryl, everyone already knows the Big Apple is the center of the universe, so do you really need to ram it down people’s throats like that?
“Yes, we do,” Palumbo insists. “People might think New York is cool, but they don‘t know it’s like the Miles Davis of cities.”