Since bursting onto the local music scene two decades ago, Slapjaw has become an indelible fixture in the heavy metal/hardcore pantheon of Northeast Pennsylvania.
As the Scranton band gears up for a headlining show to mark its 20th anniversary, guitarist/bassist Jerry Kamora took a few moments to go On the Record about what’s changed over the years and what’s stayed the same with Slapjaw — namely, a dedication to presenting high-energy music that showcases strong tunes and even stronger friendships.
Q: Tell me a little about what you have planned for the upcoming 20th anniversary show.
A: Everyone does an anniversary show, but we aren’t everyone, so we’re having a birthday party. It’ll have giveaways plus performances by Alpha Audio, Victim, Earthmouth and Terrorize This.
Q: What’s the biggest difference among the band since you first entered the scene 20 years ago?
A: We’ve had many members come and go throughout the years (three singers and nine bassists). Our musical style has fluctuated slightly with the loss and addition of new members, but we’ve always remained true to our sound regardless of those changes or what has been the trend. Holding on to our core values of friendship, love for what we do and unwillingness to follow trends has allowed us to continue all these years.
Q: Describe your music and stage presence.
A: Our music is heavy, driven and loud. We take much pride in our stage performances. You won’t catch us standing on stage playing songs. We are in the crowd. We are rolling around on the floor. We can definitely be described as highly energetic and unorthodox. People often complement us on our stage presence. Many say that they have never seen such antics before nor have they seen our level of energy from another band in a long time.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from a Slapjaw show?
A: We hope that everyone has as good a time as we do, no matter how young or old. If they like our sound, great. If they like our stage performance, great. If they like both, even better. We love what we do first and foremost beyond everything else. If one person appreciates any component of what we do, we are grateful for it. We realize that not everyone will like us, but if one thing we do at a show allows them to have fun, that is meaningful to us. We’d like everyone to walk out of that venue satisfied that their night was not spent in vain.
Q: How does it feel to hit this milestone?
A: It’s surreal in a sense. Starting out, we really had no idea how long this endeavor would last. At about 10 years in, we started to realize that this thing can potentially go on until it can’t anymore. The beauty of it all is the friendships that are created amongst ourselves. You really become a family when you’ve been together for this long. All of the disagreements and potential attitudes surrounding the music disappear, and you become an efficient unit. We certainly can’t leave out the many friendships we created and continue to create with fans and other musicians. These are friendships we cherish. Another fascinating part of being around this long is mentoring. We often don’t realize how much of an impact we may have made on fellow musicians, or kids who later become musicians, throughout the years until meeting them later in life and hearing them say things like, “It is because of you guys that I play an instrument,” or “Thank you for complimenting us on our band; you have no idea what it means to us coming from you guys.” We take much pride in that. It’s very humbling.