Slackjawed started as Joe Ziemba’s solo project. In 1995 it became a full-fledged band. Slackjawed was Joe Ziemba (guitar, bass, vocals), RJ Porter (drums), Mike Downey (guitar, bass, vocals). I had been friends with Joe throughout high school; we played in separate bands which would sometimes play shows together. RJ and I had already been playing together for a couple years. In high school we practiced, what felt like at least, nearly every weekday at his house after school. RJ and I helped each other unlock the mystery that was writing and performing your own music.
Joe was the first person I knew who had a 4-track and was writing and recording his own music and then xeroxing artwork and passing the tapes around. To me it was the coolest thing imaginable and from that point on exactly what I wanted to also be doing. Joe’s band at the time was scheduled to play a show down in Champaign, IL but had to cancel just prior. Not wanting to lose the chance to play Joe asked RJ and I to do the show instead as Slackjawed. Joe already had accumulated a heap of songs by this point so we practiced a set of them in his bedroom a couple times, jumped in the mini van and headed down state for the show. We didn’t really look back. Slackjawed morphed in Wolfie by late ’96.
We recorded two full length tapes as Slackjawed with Joe and I sharing the songwriting duties and played a handful of shows around the Chicago suburbs. We even played in Indianapolis and got a taste for what touring might be like as our pick up truck full of gear broke down on the way to the show. Undeterred, we dreamt of full fledged touring, releasing 7″s and CDs and having a record label to back us up. We didn’t know it then but all of those things were just around the corner from actually happening.