Robbins had played in the final incarnation of Government Issue, which was the longest lived of the original Washington, D.C. punk bands. After Government Issue called it quits, Robbins formed Jawbox with Kim Coletta and Adam Wade. The trio recorded a demo cassette and their first, self-released single (this was also the beginning of their use of the Desoto Records rubric, which went on to become a formal, successful independent record label); inclusion of the song "Bullet Park" on the Maximumrocknroll compilation They Don't Get Paid, They Don't Get Laid, But Boy Do They Work Hard (1989) was their most widespread early exposure. They also recorded a four-song EP, Jawbox (1990), which was incorporated into the CD release of their first album, Grippe (both released by Dischord Records). Shortly afterwards, Bill Barbot joined the band as second guitarist and second singer. Not long after, they recorded Novelty with Iain Burgess, and toured the USA.
Wade then left the band to play drums with Shudder to Think, and their friend Zach Barocas was called upon to play the drums. Barocas' adoption of various stage-names caused some confusion at the time; he used the monikers Jim Schortz, El Jefe and even borrowed the name of the Japanese actor Takashi Shimura. Barocas' unique drumming style is central to what became recognized as the band's signature studio and live sound following their major label debut.
Jawbox gained some notoriety in the indie music community by becoming one of only two bands to move from legendary record label Dischord Records to a major label, when they signed to Atlantic Records for 1994's For Your Own Special Sweetheart (the other band was Shudder to Think, which signed to Epic Records). The band had a minor MTV hit with "Savory" in 1994. A second single, "Cooling Card", was issued and received some MTV and radio play, but it wasn't as popular as "Savory".
In 1995 Jawbox released a split-live-album with Leatherface on Your Choice Records, produced by Tobby Holzinger with cover-artwork designed by Chris Scheuer.
The band recorded a second album for Atlantic, produced by John Agnello, but during the sessions, Atlantic started a vanity label for alternative artists, TAG Recordings, which had the band Fountains of Wayne signed to it, and they transferred Jawbox to the new label. In 1996, they released the album, which was surprisingly successful and had a college radio hit with "Mirrorful" and a cover of Tori Amos' "Cornflake Girl", but Jawbox was eventually dropped by the label due to a perceived lack of singles on the album.
In early 1997, at the completion of the tour supporting the self-titled record, Barocas decided to move back to New York, and Jawbox called it a day. After the split, Robbins and Barbot, along with former Government Issue drummer, Pete Moffett, formed the band Burning Airlines, which itself broke up after releasing two albums. Barbot and Coletta continue to run DeSoto Records. Barbot is owner of Threespot, a web agency in Washington, DC. Coletta is also currently a substitute teacher at Landon School in Bethesda, MD. Barocas became a part of The Up on In which, like Burning Airlines, broke up quickly thereafter. Barocas currently lives in Brooklyn and plays in the band Bells≥. Barocas also writes poetry and publishes the online literary journal The Cultural Society. Robbins is currently part of the bands Channels and Office of Future Plans, and has continued to be a successful producer.
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