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With a letter signing off, “Best of luck with your future endeavors,” Atlantic Records officially dropped Jawbox last week. The feeling is mutual. “We actually wanted to be dropped,” says bassist Kim Coletta.
Before you discount this as mere sour grapes, consider Coletta’s point. While the major labels have spent tons of money milking one-hit wonders (Remember Dig? Remember the Presidents of the United States of America?), they have never felt comfortable with bands that have followings but not necessarily “hit” records. Jawbox always stuck to its blue-collar formula of producing difficult albums, which the band supported with constant touring. This wasn’t what its label had in mind.
Atlantic’s affection quickly evaporated, Coletta says, adding that for last year’s self-titled album, Jawbox actually spent more money on advertising than the label did. “They never knew how to work a small band, and we were never going to be a large band,” she explains. “To do anything, you had to go through 20 people. They were very reactionary. It seems like a well-oiled machine, but it was very bumbling.”
Having at least learned how to make a video or two and gotten the inside dirt on the industry, Coletta doesn’t have any regrets. It’s not as though the band ever left the community. A day after sending out a statement through its web page, the band had received 150 supportive responses. “We came from a different history, and thank God for that,” she says about her Dischord roots. “It’s not that we were groping for the brass ring. It’s more humble than that.”
Lesson understood, Jawbox signed off its statement with, “We had a label before Atlantic, and we have a label after Atlantic.” The band hopes to record a two-song 7-inch for its own DeSoto label soon.Jason Cherkis