The road to the 2019 Jawbox reunion tour was a long one, with more than a year of rehearsal and re-learning of songs that J. Robbins, Kim Coletta, Zach Barocas, and Bill Barbot hadn’t played together in over two decades. Along with re-learning came some reimagining as well, with some parts rewritten and rearranged, sections of songs stretched out, new dynamics, and some new approaches. One song that got a thorough re-work was “Grip,” the (almost) title track of the band’s first album, Grippe. Zach, in particular, dug into the song as if it was brand new, and the song’s bridge took on a much more muscular character, driven by the toms. Everyone in the band fell in love with the new arrangement, and maybe this was the first glimmer that, as well as recapturing its essence from the 90s, the band might have some new tricks up its sleeve. By the end of the 2019 run, Jawbox felt it had some momentum to keep going forward and see what the future might hold. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans for us all.
Flash forward, past the worst of the Covid pandemic, to 2022. Covid restrictions and general uncertainty had put the band on hold since early 2020, but in 2022 they decided to get back to work, gearing up to fulfill some unfinished business – including some amazing “bucket list” items like a West Coast run with Jawbreaker and a spot in the legendary Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. Barbot, having moved with his family to another state, decided his Jawbox time had come to a natural close with the pandemic shutdown, so the other members invited longtime friend, War On Women guitarist (and J. Robbins’ post-Jawbox musical collaborator for years) Brooks Harlan to take over his spot.
Brooks not only filled Bill’s shoes admirably, the new dynamic brought positive vibes and a burst of energy. In getting back up to speed, the band decided to expand the set with some things people hadn’t heard on the 2019 run. A new arrangement of one of its first-ever songs, “Consolation Prize,” came together, along with a cover of the Wire classic “Lowdown.” These were a lot of fun to play live, and since Jawbox frontman J. Robbins is also the proprietor of the Magpie Cage Recording Studio, it was an easy decision to book a session to capture the new lineup and its “new” material. This was a chance to do another thing Jawbox hadn’t done in decades: a recording session. It was also a different way to welcome Brooks into the fold and solidify his status as a full member of the band rather than a fill-in guitarist for hire.
Recording sessions can be stressful, particularly for a reformed band that hasn’t been in the studio for so long. But this session was simply…a lot of fun. Matt Redenbo, the band’s touring tech and Magpie Cage house engineer, ran the session, with everyone involved contributing to the production and J. putting together the final mix. Dan Coutant mastered the songs, and though the band had initially conceived of this as a digital-only release, Arctic Rodeo Recordings then offered to release the “new/old” Revisionist EP in a special vinyl pressing.