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Interview: Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake are synonymous with "veterans". Having been prominent in the music scene for the best part of two decades, it’s not hard to see why that connection is so readily made. Yet, in spite of being clocking up the miles, they manage keep it surprisingly fresh. When music genres phase in and out of vogue, Less Than Jake are always around with a solid fanbase. No matter how many times you see them play, no two shows are ever the same.

This year they headlined Slam Dunk and were on the run of satellite shows around the country with Goldfinger, Anti Flag and Set Your Goals. Alter The Press were fortunate to have a chat with Vinnie and JR about the music industry, their love for Gainesville, Florida and more.

Alter The Press: Thankfully we never seem to have to wait too long until another Less Than Jake show here in the UK, do you do it intentionally?
Vinnie: It is a coincidence. The November tour we were on - our headliner - then Slam Dunk approached us and they really wanted us and Reel Big Fish to headline to celebrate their tenth anniversary. So during that time were like “we were just there” but they really wanted us to come up so we said OK.

ATP: How do your European and US fanbases differ?
Vinnie: It’s pretty much world-wide, very similar. It’s funny because we were just talking about it yesterday that the internet just leveled the playing field and everything feels sort of homogenised. Whether you’re in London or whether you’re in Tokyo or whether you’re in Chicago it feels rather similar in the punk-rock scene anyway.

ATP: You’re playing Warped again this year - you guys are veterans! How have you seen the tour evolve over the years?
JR: We just got called veterans!
Vinnie: Again! I like that. I’m gonna be honest with you, I don’t think it’s really evolved at all stylistically. Warped tour has always been about popular music. So when we started in the 90s punk rock was a popular music form; the punk rock that we do. I think that as other music forms and other genres become popular Warped tour focuses on that so a lot of people go “Oh ‘Warped tour’s changed” well Warped tour’s really not changed it’s just always focuses on what’s popular and the popular genres so it hasn’t really changed at all - music and people’s tastes have changed.

ATP: You’ve got such a big back catalog of songs to play, how do you decide which ones to play?
JR: Flip a coin. Actually we flip Chris. It takes a few of us to do it, but he’s willing.

ATP: You have a well documented love for Gainesville, FL. What is it about Gainesville that inspires you so much?
Vinnie: It’s our hometown, y’know?
JR: Go Gators! Chomp chomp chomp...
V: It is awesome, it’s our hometown and it’s the place that you leave and you want to go back to when you leave. Unmetaphorically speaking it’s that place that you miss when you’re gone and it’s the place that you hate when you’re there so how can you not write about it?

ATP: Common Grounds in Gainesville is closing down. How important is it for any town to have small, musician friendly venues like Common Grounds?
JR: It is, at the end of June. Sad face for everybody.
Vinnie: In that same room that’s the third named place that Less than Jake played. So it was Hogtown Brewery, Copper Dish and then it was Common Grounds. So I've seen that place close 3 times now.
JR: But to have a music scene all you need is a house. You can always, people always go to house parties and people can go play basements and stuff like that. So just an actual physical venue is what you need. Some place where you can go “oh yeah, we’re all gonna go Sean’s or whatever. It’s sad that Common Grounds is gone but there’s other venues around.

ATP: Because you’ve been a band for such a long time, how do you use your side projects to enhance what Less Than Jake does?
JR: It’s never really completely separate because obviously you’re in a band and my friend here (Vinnie) runs a great label, Paper and Plastick. My other friend Roger he’s in another band called Rehasher, Buddy plays in Coffee Project. I don’t think those things influence what we do as a band. I think it’s an outlet that we get to be creative outside of the band.
Vinnie: I actually think it’s kind of opposite. I think that Less than Jake influence the other projects because the lessons that I've learned in Less Than Jake I apply back to paper and Plastick and the advice I give to bands. And the song writing approach that we do affects the way Buddy looks at Coffee Project and Roger looks at Rehasher and things go along that way. I think that we take that experience we have with Less than Jake and we apply it to what you’re doing outside of Less Than Jake. In fact I don’t know how it could be the other way. We’ve been Less than Jake for 20 years almost I don’t know if something new could affect that massive chunk of my life.

'TV/EP' by Less Than Jake is available now on Sleep It Off Records.

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Less Than Jake on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Purevolume.

Words by Chantelle "Kiki" Goodchild

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