Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Hello, My Name Is J

| December 1, 2011

IE: We were intrigued by the local connection to The Office Of Future Plans.
J Robbins:
[Laughs.] It’s Jeff Dean‘s fault that we’re a band. Dean is hard to say no to. His enthusiasm in this case was relentless. I just thought I was going to do a recording project. Dean kept asking me to play, and I thought, at the time, I’m not going to do solo-acoustic opening for The Bomb. That’s ridiculous. So I got Gordon [Withers] and Brooks [Harlan] together.

IE: Was it music you had locked away?
: No, I had a major change in my life with the birth of my son. At 7 months he was diagnosed with spinal atrophy and I really put my music on the shelf. In October 2008, Callum was in the pediatric ICU for six weeks, and [wife] Janet and I were there every day. When I would stay overnight, I would be there ’til 8 in the morning; a sane person would go home and go to bed, but I would be like, “I can’t sleep now.” The sun is up, my head is spinning, and I just needed some place to go and get my head together to not be full of worry and fear. So I would write songs.

IE: Does your reputation as a recording engineer connote a style?
: There’s definitely a lot of times that people have worked with me because they were fans of Jawbox. For me, it’s a lot to do with space. I can get fairly picky about drum tuning, but I can also get excited. If someone said to me, “The snare in this song is a telephone book.” Cool. Let’s mic-up the phonebook! There’s times when you hear someone’s record, and you think, “I want my record to sound like that.” That’s what Jawbox did when we made our second Dischord record with Iain Burgess. We were lucky to meet Iain when he did sound for Pegboy when we opened for them at McGregor’s [in Elmhurst] in like 199-who knows when? And we were massive [Naked] Raygun fans, just like, “Imagine if our record could sound like Throb Throb or All Rise!”

IE: The Jawbox reunion on “Jimmy Fallon” seemed random.
: We were faced with this reissue of For Your Own Special Sweetheart, so we thought, instead of just putting it out there we hired publicists – one of our favorite people in the music business who we met from our whole Atlantic Records misadventure. We told her we had too much going on [to tour], and felt insecure about bringing our “A” game. So she went behind our backs and called up the music director at “Jimmy Fallon,” who happened to be a big Jawbox fan, and then came back to us and presented it as “Fallon wants you to play.” And she knew the only way to get us to do something was to blindside us with something completely weird like that. “Who wants us to what?”

Office Of Future Plans appear Saturday, December 3rd at Beat Kitchen with The Life And Times. Their self-titled, Dischord debut is out now. Q&A by Steve Forstneger.

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