Film Review: Don't Break Down - A Film About Jawbreaker
DON'T BREAK DOWN
A Film About Jawbreaker
September Club, LLC.
“I thought they were going to be huge. That they’d bridge the gap between Green Day and Nirvana.” – Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.
“The Clash! The Replacements! And Jawbreaker! That’s the trinity.” – Rich Egan (co-founder of Vagrant Records)
There are bands who in the grand scheme of things aren’t here long enough but are here at just the right moments to make a tremendous, long-lasting impact on the scene. Bands like Jawbreaker!
Their story follows all the right formulas to success: early 1990’s Indie punk rockers deliver strong music to a thriving Bay Area/924 Gillman Street scene, the fans fall in love with their gritty, raw live performances, their counterparts from the same local scene find major label success, and Jawbreaker subsequently follows and signs with a major.
So, where did it all go wrong?
Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker sets out to answer that question while retelling the bands incredible story as told by the band members themselves who have reconnected for the first time in the 11 years since calling it quits, along with several of the folks that were with them on their journey: Christy Colcord (tour manager), Billy Anderson (record producer), and more!
Their story is the pretty typical punk rock tale: band members are encouraged to be creative from a young age, found punk rock through older siblings, etc. They relocate from NYC to LA, discover that the people responding the most to their music are in the San Francisco/East Bay area, so they move there and find tremendous local success while tensions within the band start to rise to the surface.
In 1993, the group got a call asking them to tour with Nirvana who were at the height of their popularity–a no brainer! And BOOM! The backlash begins. People voiced their disappointment with the band accepting that gig or stopped talking to them altogether. Signing with a major label, especially after publicly saying they weren’t going to, only made things worse – both with the fans and within the band. And during a 1996 tour with Foo Fighters, the tensions finally boiled over and the band called it quits.
Though in this film you can still see the tension between the band members, especially Blake and Chris, as of 2019 the band is reunited and playing shows together again. And while this film does a great job of showing the long road each member traveled to get back to finally reuniting, the true take away with this film is in its showing of who all the band has influenced: Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Josh Caterer (Smoking Popes), Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), Lucero, and countless kids who are shown covering “Boxcar” in YouTube videos during the final moments.
An additional bonus is the chance to see some classic live footage that includes performances of “Boxcar,” “Shield Your Eyes,” “Want,” and “Equalized.”