Less Than Jake (JR)

Interviews | Feb 24th, 2005

Less Than Jake

How did you get started with Less Than Jake? You used to be with Spring Heeled Jack (USA har har) right?
Yes…I used to be in the REAL Spring Heeled Jack…screw that drum and bass band…they sucked donkey nuts. It was a good time, but like so many of our contemporaries, we all decided to quit playing ska and start an emo band called “I Should Just Kill Myself and Make The World A Better Place”…that didn’t work out because myself, Tyler and Chris were all playing keyboards instead of horns…we ended up sounding like a bad Flock of Seagulls cover band. I hooked up with LTJ through a mutual friend. SHJ was getting ready to do our last show and I was student teaching in MA. Vinnie called me at home and left a message saying “Wanna come play with us?” Embarrassingly enough, I was unfamiliar with all of their songs and had to learn 60 songs in three weeks…it was hard, but rewarding. I went to Gainesville, rehearsed with them and they asked me to join the band…I was on tour with them four weeks later and have been on tour ever since. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What the fuck is so special about PEZ? Why not just eat the fucking candy instead of putting it in the dispenser AND then eating it?
OK…look…here’s the deal. We don’t actually eat the candy…it’s all about the dispensers. Roger and Vinnie have the biggest collections I’ve ever seen and they just look cool when you line up all the dispensers in a row…they look like a little cartoon army. And, a side note, PEZ is actually quite painful when hurled at you while standing still…our fans rule, but it’s pretty hard to LOVE them when they are pelting us with these little projectiles…ouch!

Your video for “The Science Of Selling Yourself Short” was shot really cool. I thought it was the best song on “Anthem.” How was it making it? Did you feel like an idiot lip synching/playing in front of a blue screen?
Shooting videos is one of the hardest things about being in a band…I mean, you know, sitting around all day, stuffing your face with catering, staring at the hot chicks that are costarring, the hair styling and pampering by the beautiful make-up ladies, the trailer with the fridge full of beer, a TV, Playstation and other fun gadgets, getting people to kiss your but over the stretch of a 12 to 15 hour day…it’s grueling…hahaha! Seriously, did I feel like an idiot? No…this was like the fifth video I’ve been a part of and the third video with LTJ…I have no ego when it comes to LTJ and if me looking or acting like an idiot makes for a good video then I’ll be the idiot all day long…and I usually am anyways. I felt more silly dressed as a woman for our “Gainesville Rock City” video that jumping around in a blue room…but I was a hot chick!

What do you think about being called a sellout by kids who weren’t even born when LTJ formed?
If some kid who lives with their parents, gets money from their parents to buy their spiked belts, Ramones’ shirts, and hair color for their “faux-hawk” at Hot Topic, don’t have a job, and are still in high school call me a sellout for making choices that we as a band make, than I tell them that they should go start a band, go on tour, make your own decisions and come back and talk to me in 12 years…then we can have a discussion. Basically, opinions are like assholes…everyone has one and everyone thinks that everyone else’s stinks…No one tells us what to do…EVERYTHING that we have done, or will do in the future, is decided by US…and for all the people who keep looking in their dictionary for the definition of “punk rock”, I was told the definition was “doing what you want and not caring what others think about it”…Joe Strummer gave me that definition…if you don’t think he was punk rock or if you’re going “Who’s Joe Strummer?”…wow…I feel sorry for you.

Give me 5 reasons why Ska is stupid?
How about 5 things that led people to think that ska is stupid: 1. Band names using the word “ska” or “skank” to replace a word…skank-tastic! 2. Horns. Apparently, people HATE horns…at least that’s what “industry research” says…but horn sections deem if a ska band is good or bad…nothing worse than out of tune horns that play shit wrong…it’s painful. 3. Bad lyrics…The downfall of many ska bands are lyrics about skanking with their girl..ugh! 4. Elitism. You know, back in the day, elitism was far more prevalent in ska than punk rock. Traditional bands would talk shit on ska-punk bands or ANY band that achieved the slightest strain of success and it just ruined the scene…in reality, the only REAL ska band ever was the Skatalites…they invented the sound…everyone else is ska-influenced…period. 5. Emo. I guess it’s better to cry than have fun nowadays…bummer.

What’s the deal with Warner Brothers? Are you guys still on that label and is it true WB wanted you guys to ditch the horn section?
WB has been pretty good to us, actually. No, they never actually said “ditch the horn section”, but there were certain people who thought that the horns would prevent us from getting on the radio. Guess they were wrong, because “science” got the most airplay…there’s horns all over that shit! There were a few songs that originally had horn parts on them that didn’t appear on the record, but, like I said before, we as a band made the ultimate decision on what horn parts stayed and which ones were ditched…in any event, we are all VERY proud of “Anthem” and it’s not like LTJ had horns on every song EVER…just on the good ones…haha.

Do you guys try to suck or does it just come naturally?
We try SOOOOO hard to suck…it’s our gimmick. It is actually harder to suck than to be good. Some bands like to go out there and play all in tune and shit…we could care less…AND IT SHOWS!!!! To quote Chris, “We’re not a one hit wonder…we’re a 12 year failure.” Thank you.

Does Chris or Roger ever bicker like little girls on who’s going to sing the leads in songs? Who do you think could win in a wrestling match?
Chris and Rog fight like little girls…seriously…when they fight, it’s like pulling hair and scratching and Jerry Springer-esque bitch-slapping and shit…it’s pretty funny. Buddy actually chooses who sings the songs…the next record, Vinnie will be singing everything…he writes the lyrics, so we figured that it’s time for the world to hear the voice of the “brain”…he sounds like Clay Aiken…and he’s got a nicer butt. If there ever was an actual wrestling match, I would win cause I’m the only guy that watches wrestling and I got 50 lbs. on everyone else.

If you weren’t a rock star, what kind of career do you think you’d have?
I’m a rockstar? Sweet. I’ve been trying for 12 years to tell people what I do for a living…I guess it sounds better than “Professional Loser”. I would probably be a music teacher, I guess…an “Upgraded Professional Loser”

When are you guys going to be on MTV Cribs?
As soon as we all move out of our parents house’s.

Do you guys still pick up underage groupies?
Define the word “underage”…I actually have a rule that as long as the girl says she’s 21, I believe her…

{Here’s some “Worst Questions” that’s gonna be in the new issue of READ Magazine (http://www.readmag.com) called “The Worst Issue” }

What’s the worst STD you’ve gotten while touring?
AIDS, followed closely by genital warts.

Which is your band’s worst album?
I think they’re all pretty bad.

Tell us about LTJ’s worst gig.
My personal worst gig was in Feb of 2002…it was the first date back for the new year and the beginning of two months straight of touring. We were playing a show at Janus Landing in Tampa, FL. Second song of the set, I jumped up and landed on part of the stage that was uneven…as I came down, I HEARD my ankle go *SNAP*! I fell down, looked at our tour manager and said…”That was no good”…They taped it up and I went to the hospital at 3 in the morning when we got back to Gainesville. I sprained it so bad, the Doctor said it would have been better to break it than to sprain it this bad…so for the next three weeks I was on crutches and couldn’t walk…and I played every night…so every show of those 3 weeks was the worst gig ever because it hurt so bad, I would pass out from the pain after each show. I hear these stories of these pussies who break their finger and cancel the tour…suck it up and play.

I’m jobless, Can I have some money?
Sure…here’s how you get it…buy ski masks for you and three of your friends, watch “Oceans 11”, “Casino” and “Goodfellas” four or five times each and rob a casino in Las Vegas…they have lots of money at there just waiting for you to come and get.

Less Than Jake is gonna be on the “Rock Against Bush” CD on Fat Wreck Chords. Come on, what’s so bad about George W Bush? He seems like a swell guy.
This is the only question I will answer completely seriously…I am not telling kids who they should vote for, but if every person between the age of 18 and 30 registered and voted, we could make a difference because there are more of us than our parents or grandparents combined. It takes 10 minutes to register and 10 minutes to vote…20 minutes out of your “busy” life to maybe make a difference. Listen to what the candidates have to say and make a decision…if you decide not to vote, then don’t bitch if things are fucked… As for my opinion (see the definition of “opinion” in question #4), all I know is “The Idiot Son of an Asshole” won by a fluke and if you want to keep going to war with other countries, watch our economy nose dive and have every country in the world think we suck because we have a guy who reads Sports Illustrated more than the world news in charge, then let your parents and their conservative friends vote for that moron again and see what’s left of our country when we are their age. If you think he’s a good president, vote for him…I won’t hate you…but just make sure you VOTE.

Final Comments, Plugs, whatever?
Go to www.lessthanjake.com to see what we’re up to. Also, you can go check our other interests, like Vinnie’s clothing line www.monkeyvsrobot.net , Roger’s other band www.rehasher.com , The BEST indie label going www.fueledbyramen.com, and my management company, www.ctmafia.com. Thanks to all of our fans for their support over the years…it’s because of YOU that we are able to do this…you are our life and we owe it all to you. Please come up and say hi to us…we love to hear what you have to say. I’m Rick James, BITCH! IT’S A CELEBRATION!!!!