It only made sense for Glassjaw and Quicksand to hop on the same wave of renewed attention for a U.S. tour. Both influential New York hardcore acts released long-awaited comeback albums last year.
“It definitely was a match made in heaven,” Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo said in a recent call from the road, a few days following the Glassjaw’s show in San Francisco. “Believe it or not, we had never toured together until now. While [Quicksand] was starting to make it happen, we were still playing local shows.”
Providing the mosh-worthy counterpart to Quicksand’s lackadaisical riffs, the band’s influence remains crystal clear with fans screaming along to songs Glassjaw wrote 20 years ago. What’s more incredible is how eagerly its audience has taken to the 2017 comeback LP, Material Control. Much of it was written with audience participation in mind.
“We’re a hardcore band, so we write with the intention of connecting with the fans,” Palumbo said. “We’ve played lots of shows since releasing the album before this tour, and it’s been fucking amazing seeing people already knowing the lyrics.”
Alongside bassist Dan Ellis and Chad Hasty, Palumbo and founding guitarist Justin Beck have experienced a graceful return to the scene Glassjaw influenced profoundly. While certainly a different band both in personnel and maturity, the band is unafraid to embrace the inherent brawn found in its style.
“[Material Control] is our heaviest record to date,” he said. “But I think we delivered it a lot more tastefully than we would have back in the day.”
Comparing Material Control to their 2000 debut, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Silence, it’s easy to see the separation between old and new Glassjaw. Palumbo credits much of that first album’s frenetic sound to the twisted mind of producer Ross Robinson.
“The chaos of that first record came from the way it was recorded,” Palumbo said. “Takes that [Ross] liked ended up being on the verge of falling apart. Prior to those recordings, the songs were more exact and short. I tend to like a more acute and straightforward delivery, but he wanted it to be wild—more wild than we actually were musically at the time.”
Best known for the emotional uproar he brought out of the likes of Korn and Slipknot, Robinson was a mad genius. He necessary to push the band intro territory the band members would never have walked into by themselves.
“There was an insane quality in what we did that Ross liked,” Palumbo said. “But everyone would see something different in it. If you were producing a Glassjaw record, you might want to highlight different aspects of our sound.”
After outside forces pushed Glassjaw outside its comfort zone, it makes perfect sense that the self-produced Material Control reflects the calculated sound Palumbo prefers. Taking the reigns allowed the band to dial in its sonics in a way it hadn’t before. The result evokes Deftones more than Dillinger Escape Plan. But it’s a reflection of the changes Palumbo and the rest of the band have experienced.
Acknowledging a disconnect from some of the more juvenile themes of his early work, Palumbo made a point to write thoughtfully and properly channel his emotions this time around.
With fans still embracing Glassjaw, it’s clear that the band’s return was successful not only for Palumbo, personally, but for those who stuck with the band even after going all but silent for nearly 15 years. Any band takes pride in fan loyalty, and the fact Glassjaw managed to uproot from its past without alienating its original listeners is a testament to the bond it established with its fans. The proof lies in the concerts, as the crowd sings songs old and new louder than the amps.
What Palumbo have said to his younger self, the one who recorded the band’s debut?
“Care about the writing, care about the songs; don’t take anything for granted and be more respectful,” he said.