Robbins had played in the final incarnation of Government Issue, which was the longest lived of the original Washington, D.C. punk bands. After Government Issue called it quits, Robbins formed Jawbox with Kim Coletta and Adam Wade. The trio recorded their first, self-released single and the Grippe album. (This was also the beginning of Desoto Records, which went on to become a successful independent record label.) Shortly afterwards, Bill Barbot joined the band as second guitarist and second singer. They shortly thereafter recorded Novelty with Iain Burgess, and toured the USA.
Wade then left the band to play drums with Shudder to Think, and their friend Zach Barocas was called upon to play the drums. Barocas' adoption of various stage-names caused some confusion at the time; he used the monikers Jim Schortz, El Jefe and even borrowed the name of the Japanese actor Takashi Shimura.
Jawbox gained some notoriety in the indie music community by becoming one of only two bands to defect from legendary record label Dischord Records for a major label, when they signed to Atlantic Records for 1994's For Your Own Special Sweetheart (the other band was Shudder to Think). Some Dischord fans boycotted their records, thinking that the band changed style or had sold out, but the band's sound on its two major label records largely remained faithful to their roots. The band had a minor MTV hit with Savory in 1994. A second single, Cooling Card, was issued and received some MTV and radio play, but it wasn't as popular as "Savory".
The band recorded a second album for Atlantic, produced by John Agnello, but during the sessions, Atlantic started a vanity label for alternative artists, TAG Recordings, which had the band Fountains of Wayne signed to it, and they transferred Jawbox to the new label. In 1996, they released the album, which was surprisingly successful and had a college radio hit with Mirrorful and a cover of Tori Amos' Cornflake Girl, but Jawbox was eventually dropped by the label due to a perceived lack of singles on the album.
In early 1997, at the completion of the tour supporting the self-titled record, Barocas decided to move back to New York, and Jawbox called it a day. After the split, Robbins and Barbot, along with former Government Issue drummer, Pete Moffett, formed the band Burning Airlines, which itself broke up after releasing two albums. Barbot and Coletta continue to run DeSoto Records.Coletta is also currently a substitute teacher at Landon School in Bethesda,MD. Barocas became a part of The Up on In which, like Burning Airlines, broke up quickly thereafter. Barocas currently lives in New York and publishes poetry. Robbins is currently part of the band Channels, and has also gone on to become a successful producer.