Less Than Jake

While on tour with this winter, we had the chance to catch up with long time ska act Less Than Jake at their Cleveland date of the tour to talk about their future, their past, and everything in between.

[email protected]:Welcome, how are you? How's tour going?

Vinnie Fiorello: Tour is great besides the wild snafus of weather that are happening. We came from Pittsburgh. We were down in Baltimore when the first storm came through. It was the first time I saw lighting and heard thunder during a snowstorm.

[email protected]:You guys recently released the TV/EP. How did that idea come about?

Vinnie Fiorello: It was more so a place holder for being off tour. We were off tour and sort of writing songs and wanted to do something fun and get a release out between the last release, GNV FLA, and the reissues of Rockview and Losing Streak. We decided we should do some covers which then turned into maybe doing the muppet movie soundtrack and that turned into, no let's do some commercials and squeeze it down. Picked and choosed what we wanted and battled it out at the practice space of what to do and what not to do.

[email protected]:How hard was it to secure the rights to all that?

Vinnie Fiorello: As long as it was covered before than there is no legal problems. There's some legal wrangling, for sure, but no difficulty this time.

[email protected]:How does it feel to be one of the only ska bands around?

Vinnie Fiorello: There's a handful. Here's a very weird thing: It's that, from early on, Less Than Jake never called itself a ska band. I'll tell you why. It's that ska bands, to me, that's The Specials, Madness. Sort of, by us calling ourselves a ska band is almost throwing dirt on the history of that musical genre. So, Less Than Jake has always been a ska-punk band or however you want to word corral it and I think that for us, we've always appealed to some ska kids and some punk kids. So, I think that almost becomes a key to the longevity that we have as a band because there are not very many bands that combine those two things together. Even at the height of it, there was a very minimal amount of bands that did it.

[email protected]:Pezcore came out in '95. That's 16 years ago. Do you feel fatigued by doing this all the time?

Vinnie Fiorello: It's been going on 18 years that we've been a band. Have we been fatigued by the cycle of touring and being a band? Sure, there are some times where it definitely has an adverse effect. A lot of traveling and health risks. But when I look back, if I had been digging a ditch for 18 years would I feel it? I feel pretty damn good compared to the guy who would have been digging a ditch for 18 years.

[email protected]:You guys in your 30s now. Does that make you feel disconnected from your fan base or the bands you're playing with or coming out?

Vinnie Fiorello: I don't necessarily feel disconnected to the people who like our band or the younger set because it's all under the banner of punk rock. If you asked me if I felt disconnected to someone who felt pop music? Yeah, but I've always felt disconnected to someone who digs pop music. Punk rock is a beautiful thing. The flag that you wave when you're 16 and when you're 30, it's still the same thing. So I feel more connected to a 16 year old who's in the same head space as I am, than someone who is the same age who likes pop music.

[email protected]:How do you go about keeping things fresh for yourself and your fans?

Vinnie Fiorello: It all goes back to how and why we've been a band and that has a lot to do with communication. As long as you can do “here's my idea: ABCDEFG” and you can talk about it. I like it, I don't like it, fuck you, no, fuck you and get it to a point. The first time that it starts to feel like not everyone has a voice to it is when it starts to feel the most stale. The key to it not being stale is you have many brains on it together.

[email protected]:JR recently wrote an article about the state of the music industry. How do you guys apply these type of “new wave” ideals into releasing and recording and business as a band?

Vinnie Fiorello: Less Than Jake has always been a punk band and has always operated as a DIY punk band. Even when we were on a major label we were very hands on. So, I think that the new model that's coming out is the old model in new fucking clothes and called something else. Oh? You mean you have to be in charge of your own publishing and in charge of your own song writing and talking about doing art and being heavily involved in how you tour and who you tour with? Well what a fucking revelation, man. Been doing that for the last 25 years of my life. The new model is the old model, get used to it. We just got spoiled in the '80s and the '90s.

[email protected]:Along those lines, you guys started your own label, Sleep it Off, for GNV FLA. Is the plan from here on out do it with Sleep it Off and all DIY?

Vinnie Fiorello: That is the plan. We're 5 steps ahead of the model of “band being on a label.” That doesn't necessarily that we won't partner with someone to do something in the future. But it will never be “you're a band, you're signed to THIS label.” It will never be that way again. We're too far ahead of that curve to go back to that model.

[email protected]:After this tour, what are your plans?

Vinnie Fiorello: Head to Australia for the soundwave festival, then to Indonesia for two shows, which is our first time there, one show is Boli, first time there, and then come home and maybe do some spot shows. Maybe some colleges. Maybe some weekend shows in the south. Then do the Slam Dunk Festival in the UK and come back and then we're in the middle of summer tour plans right now.

[email protected]:Full-length?

Vinnie Fiorello: We've been writing songs. I would figure that in the fall we would go in the Studio. I don't know if it will be for a full-length or a series of EPs or singles, but it will be something.

[email protected]:What is your favorite part about being a musician?

Vinnie Fiorello: That's a hard one. There's a few things. There's the music writing musician would say that it's great to be able to convey your thoughts and ideas and write lyrics and have them syphoned into a greater psyche and then absorbed into any kind of mainstream that there is. That's pretty fucking cool. But the touring musician would say that it's great to have that contact and chemistry on stage and in a club. Because you can't really replace that.

[email protected]:That's all I've got for you. Anything else you've got to say?

Vinnie Fiorello: That's it brother. Thanks for having me.

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