Band Interview: Less Than Jake, July 2009

Less Than Jake

In for the Long Haul

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FAZER MAGAZINE

There’s a certain point in most bands careers where they either become living legends or fade into obscurity. People remember controversy and excess, humans thrive on difference and insolence. Think of World War 2, which name comes to mind first, MacArthur or Hitler?

It is in the same vein that bands are made, broken, molded into something new or broken into thousands of pieces. This modern world has seen many musicians and groups of musicians for and breakup, come and go, but it is truly the greats that are remembered. The ones that dared to say “I’m different, and if you don’t like it, go fuck yourself.”

Less Than Jake has led a spurious career, most people think of them as saviors of the ska movement, an extensive career that has seemingly had high after high after high. The truth is that they’re nothing short of being complete supervillians of the alternative music industry. They’re helpful, they’re compassionate, they exude a personal attraction of support and love to their fellow bands. In short, they are everything you would expect an successful band not to be, humble and helpful.

That isn’t to say they’re boring. Ska bands tend to be the laughingstock of the punk music world for reasons that are less than kind and completely unfounded. Most people would become embittered and jaded from this type of situation; LTJ seems to thrive on it. They are the first ones to make jest at themselves and if a ska band can joke about what they do, perhaps it’s time we all reflect on our own lives and realize we should all stop listening to The Killers and enjoy more Less Than Jake.

Aaron: Buddy, you’re in LTJ, what do you do?

Buddy: I play trombone, the live boner, and I use my cunning to its full extent.

Aaron: Haha, I talked to Reel Big Fish last year, I have the feeling this interview could be equally ludicrous.

Buddy: You mean like the rapper yo? Or more like the nonsensical?

Aaron: If we could make it like the first one that would be phenomenal. I was just talking to Darrin Pfeiffer from Goldfinger a few days ago; he opened every single answer with Star Wars quotes.

Buddy: Oh man, I can’t do that.

Aaron: No?

Buddy: I could try, but it would be rusty.

Aaron: Nah…I guess we could just do an interview.

Buddy: Hah, I guess that’s why we’re here.

Aaron: So, Less Than Jake, it’s like your 20th time…

Buddy: I believe the term is Brazilionth. It’s our Brazilionth time on the tour.

Aaron: Hah, Googleplexianth? But really, what’s it like being one of the older bands on the tour?

Buddy: Well, NOFX and Bad Religion make us feel like young, spry chickens, and I’m thinking Flogging Molly has a few years on us. Not as a band, but as humans. It’s in some ways no different than the first year we did it in 97’, and in a lot of ways, well, the catering, way better than 97’. We get some priviledges too, by being the old men on campus, it’s like a microcosm of high school or summer camp.

Aaron: You’re like the cool uncles?

Buddy: Yeah, there are a bunch of bands that have never been on the tour before so people in production don’t know who they are, so I try to get them their water for the day. But some of them walk in and think they’re going to get bottles of wine and sexy girls and they’re like ‘let’s do this, we’re on tour all summer!’. That’s not how it works, it’s kinda like the mafia here, you’ve gotta pay the right people.

Aaron: Oh, so they need to figure out who the piper is.

Buddy: And I’m reserving the can. Ya know, I’ve gotta get up every day and try to find where the clean bathrooms are and stuff. I go to the porta-potties every day and they’re usually messed up, I’ve just given up, I’m shitting in a porta-potty today and I’m gonna shit in one every day. I don’t give a shit, literally.

Aaron: No pun intended…

Buddy: Yeah, I think I’ve probably sat on a real toilet on our days off and maybe one or two tour days. Anytime the Warped Tour is next to an actual city where you can walk there, you actually have to leave the Warped Tour, it’s almost a mandatory thing because a lot of the days you’re in the middle of nowhere so you don’t even have that option. So yesterday I went all out, I went out and got some Hard Rock Café dinner and watched a movie. Unfortunately the only movie by the time we got over there, the only movie we had enough time to watch was The Taking of Pelham 123. I thought it was gonna be the worst movie I had ever seen in my life, but it turned out okay.

Aaron: Hah, very convoluted.

Buddy: Yeah, exactly.

Aaron: You seem like you have a lot of fun with this. Is the Warped Tour the best tour you’ve ever done?

Buddy: No. Let’s not get carried away. The Warped Tour is one of those things that’s a love-hate relationship. You either are in the mood for it or you’re not. There are days where you wake up and you just don’t want to be on Warped Tour. Today I had a little coffee and I’m in an okay mood. I’m really thoroughly depressed inside and faking this just for you.

Aaron: I appreciate that so much. This has to be a great day though, I just saw Fat Mike driving a bicycle with Nubs in the front of it.

Buddy: Oh, like 10 minutes ago?

Aaron: Yeah, exactly!

Buddy: Yeah, that’s really Nubs. I think Warped Tour, you can see that almost every day. You see stuff and you’re like ‘wow, did that really just happen?’ Angel Amore is out here and he’s always doing something a little weird. It’s really nice when we have a barbecue. The first few shows we did were in California so it didn’t really start yet, but the barbecues really started in Houston, Texas, that was the first one. The buses are all parked in the same general area so we saw some cool stuff. We’ve been on this so many times, I know what to expect but people that are new, the new bands are losing their minds, knocking trashcans over and screaming ‘whoooo, this is the best night of our lives!’. I’ve seen it like 8,000 times.

Aaron: So you guys were that band on your first tour?

Buddy: Maybe. A little bit. We definitely had an interesting tour.

Aaron: A very deflective answer.

Buddy: Maybe. A little bit. Next question!

(Both laughing)

Aaron: Hah, is there anyone on the tour you’d really recommend going to see?

Buddy: The band TAT. They play on the Hurley Stage, they’re from London. Female-fronted, 3-piece, she plays guitar, bass player, great drummer. They’re great though, a really great band, power pop-punk. Which is good, a lot of bands here are neglecting the whole melody side of things. You get these guys yelling into the microphone ‘AHHHHHH we’re going to yell at you!’

Aaron: How do you find you connect with these bands and their fans?

Buddy: Ahh…the kids these days! You’ve gotta squirt em’ in the face with water. Water-guns are the way to go. We also have the t-shirt cannon. You know, I find that when we’re playing, eye contact, you look at people. You sing lyrics and you’re looking out. It’s to get kids pumped as well. If you’re up on stage and you’re playing and staring at your shoes and you’re not into it, the crowds not into either. If you’re totally pumped up and you look out there, they get pumped up back; it’s totally a kinetic thing. We go out and do signings everyday at the AT&T tent. We just go talk to the kids.

Aaron: Cool, thanks a lot for talking today Buddy.

Buddy: You’re welcome!

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