Veteran punk rock band, Less Than Jake is bringing their energetic live sound to the Electric Factory on Monday February 19. The show features opening acts, New Found Glory, Anti-Flag and the Teen Idols. Tickets are $15 and show begins at 7 p.m. Vinnie, the band’s drummer, recently sat down to talk with the Temple News about their music and the upcoming show.
Temple News: You guys recently toured with Bon Jovi, what was that like? Any stories?
Less Than Jake: It was a relaxing time for us. Bon Jovi is an 80s icon band and going on tour with them was a no-brainer for us. We would have went out and played with any 80s metal band. It was an easy tour for us, I mean come on it was catered. I’d say it was one of the top three tours we’ve been on in the eight years that we’ve been touring. The only downer was we played big arenas filled with people your parents age and not familiar with our music.
TN: How would you describe or classify your music for those not familiar with Less Than Jake?
LTJ: It’s punk rock with some horns add a little scoff and pop and you’re there.
TN: What are your thoughts about Philly?
LTJ: We’re in Philly three times a year. In fact, we played Temple University four years ago. We always get a great response and it’s a blast. I come from the North East and lived in New Jersey for 16 years. I like the North East, to me it feels like home. It helps to understand the people’s mentality that you are playing [for].
TN: Why should punk fans from Philly come to the show on Monday the 19th?
LTJ: We’re going to have fire, confetti and talk really bad. We’re going to say the word fuck, hundreds of times. We’re gonna try and break the world record for profanity on this tour.
TN: You’re from Gainesville, Florida. Has the state inspired any of your music?
LTJ: Of course, look at the lyrics and songs. For example, “Gainesville Rock City,” the list goes on and on. All the people that I know and situations that I’ve been in have influenced the songs that we perform.
TN: Being from Florida, what are your thoughts on the election controversy? Has it inspired any song ideas?
LTJ: Looking at the whole election controversy, the way I see it is that third party or not, some how, some way the election process will change. If anyone learns anything from this mess, it is that we have an outdated election process. Less Than Jake stays out of the political realm in our lyrics and songs. We’re more about social politics and are active in anti-violence, race and gender issues.
TN: Where did the band name come from?
LTJ: The name came from my parents. They had an English Bulldog named Jake. My parents treated that dog better than anyone in the family … so everything was “less than Jake.” It was a funny twist on things and my parents think it’s funny.
TN: You guys use saxophones and trombones in your music. Is this unusual for a punk band?
LTJ: When we first started it was unusual, but over the past few years with the rise and fall of ska — a term describing musical style from Jamaica. Ska has clingy guitar and a fast reggae sound — and swing it seems to be more prevalent than when we first started a decade ago. Our first demo tape was without horns, but when we recorded our first record we had them on it. A band from England called Snuff inspired our usage of horns. I really have no clue, why we chose to use them. 13 years ago when I got their record it was really cool. I’m like they have a horn … but it’s really cool. We added more horns and Ska influence to it as we went and slowly reworked the Ska and horns into our sound.
TN: You guys always seem to be out on tour, where do you get the energy?
LTJ: [Laughs] Coffee … it’s a joke. When you do what you love to do, you don’t mind putting the time into it. I play drums and do the lyrics. There’s a hell of a lot more people with more talent than I have. You really don’t choose to be a musician. There’s people who say, I knew I what I wanted to be when I was 12 years old. That’s not our story, Less Than Jake started in our senior year in high school and then into college where it went gradually from there.
TN: Where did you go to college?
LTJ: I went to the University of Florida and graduated with a degree in Special Education. It’s an excellent program and is rated among the top six programs in the country.
TN: With a degree in special education do you guys do benefits for the handicapped?
LTJ: No, but we’ve done benefits in the past for things that we can control. Things like battered women’s shelters and children’s burn units.
TN: Everyone wants to know what’s the deal with Pez obsession?
LTJ: It’s something that everyone remembers when they were growing up. Everyone has something they collect, for some its Ford Mustangs. Pez is that something for me. It’s great! It dispenses candy and there’s sugar involved, so why not? The only thing that could make it better would be if it dispensed nicotine and caffeine. I have an immense collection of Pez dispensers.
TN: What are your thoughts on today’s music scene?
LTJ: Music runs in cycles. Right now we’re in the same cycle that had the New Kids on the Block and Whitney Houston. We’re in it right now and eventually that’s going to change into something else. It’s something that I’ve already seen before. It’s pre-fab pop. It doesn’t affect my outlook and musical tastes. You can’t deny people’s talent. Does Britney Spears have talent? Yes. Does she write her own songs? No. Is this a band in my sense? No. I can’t badmouth anyone, but I can see things for what they are.
TN: What about “selling out” in today’s music industry?
LTJ: The only thing you can really do is sell out yourself. In the general sense, selling out is changing your musical styles for popularity and money. Artists do it everyday, but do I know any body who has … no. We’ve always prided ourselves in playing for ourselves and for the people who like us. I would love to be on MTV, but I also want to be control of our own destiny.
TN: Anything else you’d like to add?
LTJ: Come see us play, you really don’t know our band until you see us play. We’re a live band.