Saturday, March 23, 2019

Following Kim Coletta's musical journey from youth to Jawbox

Janet Morgan photos, exclusive for There's Something Hard in There.

By Andy

"When you examined the wreck, what did you see? 
Glass everywhere and wheels still spinning free."

That was cousin Eric's Facebook message on Jan. 14, and people knew exactly what he spoke of. Fucking Jawbox is back.

The band -- whose music gouges, soothes and then twists you into knots (exactly what stellar bands should achieve) -- will return to the stage June 14-15 in Cambridge, MA and roll through 16 dates.

We caught the band as part of a rip-roaring trio alongside Tanner and Shiner in 1996 at the Starfish Room in Vancouver, BC.

So, here we have an insightful Q and A via email with bassist Kim Coletta about her musical history.

** What were your earliest musical memories and bands/artists/songs that really jumped out at you?

My parents had me when they were seniors in college, so they were very young. They both went to school in Boston and met at the Rathskeller or the “Rat,” as it was colloquially called. They both brought amazing vinyl collections into the relationship, so my earliest memories involve that collection. They played the Beatles, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, etc. I remember my mom playing all the vinyl and my dad constantly singing along with music on the radio. He would take a portable radio and the Boston Globe newspaper into the bathroom on Sunday morning and be in there for about an hour. In retrospect, I understand that he was getting away from the chaos of a young family and having a little time to himself! To this day, I still love folk music, especially from that period.

** What was the first song you remember singing or humming a tune to? Maybe dancing around your bedroom to? 

When I was six years old, a musical project called “Free to Be You and Me” was released. It was a project done in conjunction with the Ms. Foundation (started in part by Gloria Steinem). I heard that a lot in the kid’s classes at the very progressive Unitarian-Universalist church we attended at the time. My mother was very active in the 1960s/70s feminist movement, and she played that record at home too. I knew the whole thing, and I would jump around on the bed singing that album. “Free to Be You and Me” was WAY ahead of its time in terms of promoting gender equality between girls and boys and just generally letting girls know they could be what they wanted in life. There were tracks on there by Diana Ross, Shirley Jones, Roberta Flack, etc.

** As you grew older, what music did you gravitate toward and why? When did you start attending gigs and which bands stuck out to you? What kind of an impact did the musicians have on you? What prompted you to get into the musicianship side of things? 

In my tweens, I went through a period where I was listening to a steady diet of Rush, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and the “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtrack! I remember getting together with friends and playing the vinyl of those bands over and over and over. My first concert was Jethro Tull at the Worcester Centrum with my best friend Brenda; I think we were around 12. Our parents dropped us off and then picked us up. I remember being pretty awestruck by the noise level, the lighting, the electric flute (hahahahaha!) and the fact that everyone was smoking weed in there. We were growing up in Nashua, NH, and we’d never seen anything like that.

In my early teens, I went in a different direction and started listening to early U2, OMD, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, New Order, and others in the new wave genre. When I was 15 and starting high school, this cool kid Gregg moved to town, and a bunch of us started hanging out together. Gregg was into punk and hardcore to a greater extent than us, and he started introducing us to all kinds of new bands. A great concert memory I have from that time is seeing Elvis Costello and The Clash at the Cape Cod Coliseum. We had tickets for the balcony, but we all wanted to be on the floor where the action was happening. We ended up lowering ourselves from the balcony and jumping onto the floor—I’ll always hold this one in my heart as one of my favorite concerts.

After this, we started seeing a lot of punk/hardcore shows in Boston--most were at an all-ages club called The Channel. But I will say that one of my first hardcore shows was seeing GG Allin and the Scumfucs at a tiny club in Manchester, NH…it was everything you’d expect from a GG Allin show! In Boston, we saw a lot of hardcore bands. I remember loving the energy there but not entirely enjoying the mostly male audience and the violent mosh pits. I was happiest seeing bands that embraced melody like the Meat Puppets, the Big Boys, and Husker Du.

It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, DC for college that it dawned on me that I could try playing music too. The DC scene was so different than the Boston scene at the time; both were exciting, but I met more women and activists in the DC scene, and that appealed to me. I bought my first bass from musician David Grubbs (Squirrelbait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol), who was living in the same dorm as me. I fooled around with it for a couple of years, and when I graduated from college, we started Jawbox almost immediately.

** What bands influenced your bass playing at the start and which ones have guided you along the way during your overall career?

The bands that influenced me at the start of my bass playing included groups like Joy Division and Bauhaus. I could pick up and learn basslines from their songs, and that was captivating. Bands that guided me on my way while in Jawbox include many, many bands from labels like Dischord, Touch & Go, Homestead Records, Merge and others. Some that come to mind include Honor Role, Neutral Milk Hotel, Holy Rollers, Lungfish, My Dad is Dead, Big Black, Naked Raygun, Sebadoh, Bastro, Antietam, The Wipers, Arcwelder, Codeine, Slint and more.

** If you could have dinner with one band or bass player, who would you choose to really pick their brain and why? 

This one is super easy for me. I would have dinner with Rose Marshack from The Poster Children. I was lucky to play with them and see them many times, and Rose has always inspired me. She’s smart, writes killer basslines, has a great bass sound, and rocks out on stage! I saw them play again last year and it was such a happy night for me.


  1. I went to high school right across the street from the house that Kim & jay shared with other Jawbox and Shudder guys. Kim lovingly tolerated me when I showed up at their doorstep to fanboy at them; she'd even invite me in to hang out during my school lunch breaks. What's more: I got stuck in DC a few times after Jawbox shows, and she and Jay would drive me all the way home. Forget the music; THAT is the most DC punk shit ever. I'll never forget K & J and their kindness & patience.

  2. YES! That Jawbox / Poster Children show I saw in 94?? is still in my top 5.