Beaten, to tears: Glassjaw’s Darryl on the sad state of modern America

Given my previous experiences with guys from Long Island, Darryl Palumbo doesn’t quite fit the bill … well, besides his voice. The lanky 24-year-old Italian has an accent so strong I can’t tell if he’s from Delmar or Bellmore. After a little Long Island geography lesson, I found out it’s Bellmore.

Palumbo, the emotive, angry lead singer of Glassjaw, is surprisingly soft-spoken in person. Glassjaw broke out in New York’s hardcore scene, and after success there they moved into the more mainstream rock market. They’ve been relentlessly touring the United States and Europe for the past three years.

Glassjaw released its most recent album, Worship and Tribute, on Warner Bros. Records in July 2002.

Glassjaw – Palumbo, Larry Gorman (drums), Justin Beck (guitar), Todd Weinstock (guitar) and Dave Allen (bass) – is currently finishing a headlining spot on the SnoCore tour.

In talking to Palumbo it is obvious he everything about making music, from writing it to performing. But it is his plain-spoken honesty about art and current events that is remarkably refreshing.

Hatchet: Tour and everything OK? You are coming toward the end, aren’t you?

Darryl Palumbo: Yeah, we only have, I think, one more show.

H: Are you excited to go home (to Long Island)?

DP: Yeah, terribly excited.

H: Are you looking forward to going to Europe? You have a pretty big fan base there.

DP: Yeah, absolutely. We have been trying to go there for a while, but I kept getting sick. So we are going to the UK, but also making up a few dates from the last tour.

H: Would you say the audience and fan base differ in Europe from that in the United States?

DP: Oh, it’s bigger (laughs). Like about five or six times in size in Europe. It’s huge. I think those kids are a little more devoted. They don’t get bands over there as often as we do around here, and so they create a fantasy world around their bands. They are fanatical about their bands.

H: Do you think the United States could ever get that way or is it not in our culture?

DP: No, I don’t think we ever will. The United States is spoiled because everything is right here. You can see every band you want every month. The kids in Europe don’t get that..

H: Other music critics have talked about the anger of the first album, but you have said that the most recent album has more of a “positive anger.”

DP: In the past it was a violent anger. I was smashing anything I could grab.

H: Are you happy now?

DP: Yes. Yes, I’m very happy.

H: Are you ever going to talk about this happiness in your lyrics?

DP: No, probably not. I write angry and dark music. That stems out from a stage where I have been angry and upset. For the most part, I am a whole lot happier in my life. There has been a whole lot of unhappiness in my life. Things have been very traumatic. I do get upset, and I am an angry person. But I take medication to make sure I am not.

H: Do you think that you will ever overcome this feeling?

DP: Angry, angry shit?

H: Yeah.

DP: Well, I don’t know. I think it’s just me as a person to be, like, this sarcastic, negative dude.

H: But there is a difference between being sarcastic and being in an all-out shitty mood. You were watching the war coverage earlier, does that make you angry?

DP: I get angry from watching like a half-hour, then get just sad about it. I think it’s so sad that people are dying over there.

H: Do you have any opinions about politics and what is going on?

DP: I don’t like getting into it so much. But it’s like, I just don’t want people to die. Why should people have to die? The value of a human life is universal. I think whether you’re an Iraqi or American, you should understand that. Just look back to September 11. I am from New York, and I just think of all the thousands of people who died.

H: Did you have any personal connections to what happened on September 11?

DP: (nods head)

H: This is all getting so down.

DP: But it’s the truth, we are now at war.

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