Any ska / punk fan over the last 25 years is going to know the name Less than Jake, as well as most likely going to be able to rattle off either a few of their great albums or a few of their biggest hits! Hailing from Port Charlotte in Florida, Less than Jake have released eight albums that host many great songs; starting with Pezcore back in 1995 and ending with See the Light in 2013, it’s impossible to know where to start.
After Vinnie Fiorello (drums / lyrics), Chris DeMakes (vocals / guitar) Roger Lima (vocals / bass) first started a band together whilst attending university in 1992, they recruited Jessica Mills (alto saxophone) as their first horn instrument. Not long after that, Buddy ‘Goldfinger’ Schaub (trombone) was also added to the Less than Jake equation; with the exception of Mills, all these members still remain in Less than Jake to this day! After going through a small transition period amongst horned instruments, Less than Jake finalised their line up with Peter ‘JR’ Wasilewski (tenor saxophone) in 2000 and it has stayed this way ever since.
In celebration of Less than Jake reaching 25 years as a band, they have decided to embark on a five-show tour of Australia; not only that, but they are supported by Foxtrot and Australian punk legends BodyJar! OVERDRIVE got the opportunity to speak to Fiorello about the upcoming trip to Australia. Our first topic of discussion was how excited Less than Jake are to celebrate 25 years with their Australian fans. Fiorello was quick to express that, “We are very excited! I’ve said it in previous interviews over the years, but Less than Jake have a very deep connection with Australia, ever since the first time we came over with Warped Tour. We’ve always been embraced and always had a great time; every time we’ve been to Australia, every show the people there have been up for it! We’re very excited to get to share our 25th anniversary with the fans of Australia.”
Fiorello has previously come out on record and stated that Less than Jake are “bringing our full stage of antics to Australia for the first time,” so it made sense to get more clarification on what he meant. Fiorello was more than happy to divulge just what kind of mayhem Australian fans should brace themselves for!
“Insanity, toilet paper guns, dudes dressed up in a big ass mascot mask! I mean, it’s everything that Less than Jake does, but we’ve been very limited in what we can being to Australia; this time around, we’re bring EVERYTHING that we do in the United States when it comes to the stage show.”
With Less than Jake having eight albums over 25 years to choose from, they have quite an extensive catalogue of songs to pick and choose from when creating their setlist! This interviewer was curious whether there would be some long lost gems or forgotten about tracks that Australian fans would get to hear on these upcoming shows. Fiorello gave as best of an insight into what songs fans should expect as he could:
“Without going into a full rundown of what we’re going to play, because I don’t even know what we’re going to play (laughs); generally speaking, we play songs that are fan favourites. Then we reserve the right to play songs that are not fan favourites but are band favourites; songs that mean something to the band and moves the band to play! To be honest, that’s what a gig is; it’s a balance of the fucking bangers and a balance of the beatdowns and that’s we’ve always bought to the table. We’ve been doing this for 25 years, so we play the songs that people want to hear and we also play the songs that scratch the itch for us. For instance, there’s a song called ‘P.S. Shock the World’ from In with the Out Crowd; it’s not a banger and something that people are going to jump around to. But the lyrics are so poignant and the vibe is so smoky, that it’s a band favourite because of what it is saying and the vibe it generates! It allows people to hear a song that they may have skipped over, as well as remind people that there are more songs out there than the 15 they’ve been listening to.”
With Less than Jake being a legendary punk / ska band, it made sense that they have a high profile Australian punk band supporting them; you can’t get much more high profile than BodyJar! Fiorello explained how it came to be that Australian fans are getting to experience such an amazing night of punk:
“Our agent and their agent share a larger agency actually. The guys got talking about how we wanted to have an Australian band support us; we started bouncing names backwards and forwards about who we wanted it to be and BodyJar’s name came up. Our bass player Rog is a massive BodyJar fan, so he’s incredibly stoked. I’m incredibly stoked to get to share the stage with a band that are Australian punk legends! I think it was a mutual respect behind things connecting.”
Fiorello then went on to express how much Less than Jake love Australian music:
“Whether it be Frenzel Rhomb, BodyJar, The Bennies, The Hard-Ons; the list goes on! For Less than Jake, we always want to play with someone from Australia when we travel down there; not only do they know the ins and outs of how things work, but it’s just the right thing to do. When it came to BodyJar, we’ve been around a similar amount of time; it made perfect sense for us to join forces and blow the roof off!”
The month of October is going to be super busy for Less than Jake; they’re having to leave the Punk in Drublic Festival so they can perform for us! Fiorello gave a small insight into what the rest of 2017 holds for Less than Jake, as well as discussing how they got to perform on the Punk in Drublic festival line-up:
“At the end of the tour, we fly into New Orleans and we do a cruise called the Warped Tour Rewind Cruise, which goes from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico then back again. After that, we do two more shows with The Descendants and that’s the last bit until the New Year! In regards to Punk in Drublic, we were aboard the Flogging Molly cruise, alongside NoFX. Fat Mike had mentioned that he was doing this punk rock / craft beer festival and that ‘Less than Jake should play.’ Our response was, ‘Whenever you have it ready, you let us know and we will play!’ Mike is just one of those guys; he has always been one of those supportive individuals who always had an open-door policy if we want to come back! He’s a good friend, a great mentor, he’s a degenerate and we love him a bunch so we’re excited to get to play those shows! Let me tell you one last thing about that final question; you’re talking about American punk bands but for me I say this all the time: they should support Australian and support local bands! If it wasn’t for Frenzal Rhomb, Less than Jake would never have been able to go over and tour Australia and have people be interested in us. It’s important that Australian fans support Australian punk rock because they open the door for bands like Less than Jake; you’ve got bands like Frenzal, The Living End, The Bennies, BodyJar who we’re touring with, FoxTrot, I could just go on forever!”
Before the interview concluded, this interviewer made sure to pass on the best wishes of Australian fans with Florida being under attack by Hurricane Irma, that everyone Vinnie and Less than Jake know make it through unscathed! Fiorello informed me that, “I’m in Florida right now too; we’re going to ride it out so we appreciate the good thoughts, brother!”
LESS THAN JAKE BEGIN THEIR 25TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR IN MELBOURNE ON OCTOBER 19TH. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MISS OUT ON THE MAYHEM AND GET YOUR TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE!