Less Than Jake hasn't released a new record since 2008's GNV FLA, but it doesn't matter -- the Florida dudes still tour relentlessly, and their fans still come to see them play. Why? Because, in an era of performers constantly questioning their own cool, LTJ prides itself on being uncool. They still sing songs about pizza and parties. They still have a horn section. They still are sort of ska, if ska still existed.
And like the grateful Dead of ska, Less Than Jake knows it isn't about records anyway--it's about the live show, which usually involves lots of sweaty dancing and confetti. LTJ comes through Denver tonight at Summit Music Hall with The Supervillians, Off With Their Heads and The Gamits. This show is all ages and tickets are $15-18. Doors open at 7 p.m, bands start at 8 p.m. -- Bree Davies
Click through for a full Q&A with drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorella.
The shelf life of your average candy bar is a few months or so -- the shelf life of a ska punk band from the '90s is even shorter, particularly these days. So it's almost impossible to believe that Gaineville, Florida's candy-coated ska punks Less Than Jake are still with us after nearly twenty years.
Less Than Jake's career trajectory has astounded many including the band members themselves, from sold out shows around the world to playing all the largest music festivals to fostering a loyal fanbase, with a major label album here, to, uh, opening for Bon Jovi on one of their summer arena tours.
When ska punk music was gigantic back in the mid to late '90s, Less Than Jake was solidly one of the genre's torch bearers, but when the genre slipped from its pedestal, the crowds and money all dried up and most bands called it a day. But instead of folding up shop or performing nostalgic musical victory laps every summer at Warp Tour to the same old audience, Less Than Jake instead doubled down, reinvented their sound and identity, and proceeded to release some of the most challenging, and personal albums of their careers and found a whole new lease on life. We recently spoke with Less Than Jake drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorello to gain insight on the past two decades.
Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): Your band has been playing Colorado since your band's early days. What is your favorite Colorado memory here after all these years?
Playing at the Mercury Cafe and having our first sold out show in Denver.
Is it ever surreal to find yourself still making music after all these years?
Everyday something happens where it makes me check if I'm actually awake, and in those moments, I am shocked that three chords could propel things this far.
There's lots of great bands that have hailed from your hometown of Gainesville, Florida. What is about the place that has helped spawn so many commercially successful touring rock bands through the years?
The pot, The college, and the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere.
Do you still consider Less Than Jake a "Ska Punk" band or has the band outgrown that label?
You can never hide who you are. The honest answer is that we are Less Than Jake, a punk band that adds ska, metal and reggae.
Your band has tackled some pretty deep issues in your music through the years, like drug abuse, loneliness, regret, etc. Do you find the band leaning towards more serious song topics as you all grow older?
We always have had that side, but in the later records you talk about what you know. I mean, after eighteen years is the joke still funny? Occasionally. I like the fact that we can cover serious topics and have some fun moments on stage and in the studio.
It's been ten years since your band opened up for Bon Jovi on parts of their North American tour. Do you guys all still stay in touch?
JR [sax player/background vocalist Peter "JR" Wasilewski] is the cousin of Jon, so they see each other over the holidays. I've been told he makes a great quiche.
There has to be some awesome Bon Jovi tour stories, could you tell us just one?
Jon Bon Jovi is better looking than 90 percent of my ex girlfriends and is an overly nice dude, but when he cursed in front of us it seemed like my grandmother was saying the word "pussy."
What's the worst career advice your band ever got from anyone in the "music industry"?
Work hard and play smart.
What was the best advice, and who gave it?
Drink more coffee. - Bill Stevenson
Can you name a career high? What about a low moment?
Reading festival in front of 90,000 people. There are no low points in rock and roll, just good stories.
What is the most fan requested song at a Less Than Jake show?
"Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sell Outs".
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.