More Than Cool,
Less Than Jake
Image courtesy of Less Than Jake.
Less Than Jake
Presently embarking on a Fat Wreck Chords Tour with Anti-Flag, Masked Intruder and Get Dead, where they will most likely not only play to old and new fans alike but also children of their fan base. They will be playing The Nile Theater in Mesa on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. The show is all ages and $20. For more information, visit http://www.niletheater.com/event/344005-fat-tour-2013-less-than-jake-mesa/
By Garyn Klasek
Special For Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 2, 2013 — There aren’t many bands that have bounced around from independent to major labels seemingly with such ease as Less Than Jake, although preferring any label that shares their vision. Two decades in and this Florida ska/punk band shows no signs of letting up. Starting in 1992 in Gainesville, Less Than Jake released a succession of EPs on their own before Dill Records put out their debut full length, Pezcore, in 1995, featuring the classics “Jen Doesn’t Like Me Anymore” and “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts,” that always take me back to high school.
For them, the 1990s were great, despite horrific shit like Limp Bizkit. In 1995, one of their guitarists, Chris, nearly drove off road when their song “Liquor Store” aired on a local radio station. This was only the beginning for this prestigious crew, as their follow-up LP, Losing Streak in 1996, broke out on Capitol Records. Around this time, they also played some popular tours, including the 1997 Warped Tour, the Caffeine Nation Tour with the Descendents and Guttermouth, the Race Around Uranus Tour featuring Blink-182 and Frenzal Rhomb and the Ska Against Racism Tour alongside The Toasters and Mustard Plug. Vinnie, Less Than Jake’s drummer, would also start the Fueled by Ramen label around this point.
While apparently mapping out some good deals into their contract, they’d only stick with Capitol for one more record before parting ways: 1998’s Hello Rockview. Popular tracks from this album include “History of a Boring Town” and “All My Best Friends are Metalheads.”
At this point, Less Than Jake was fed up with Capitol for various reasons, including being frowned upon for bootlegging and selling their own material. They moved on to popular independent punk label Fat Wreck Chords to put out their next release in 2000 called Borders & Boundaries. Impressively, they also landed opening on Bon Jovi’s North American tour. Despite not being as commercially popular as their previous albums, it still had some popular tunes, like their hometown hit, “Gainesville Rock City.”
After that, they picked up Spring Heeled Jack’s Pete Wasilewski, aka “JR” on saxophone. According to Chris, the peaking and phasing out of a lot of ska/punk bands was good, since many were capitalizing off of the moment. They toured with New Found Glory and Anti-Flag in 2001. They toured Europe the following year with Bad Religion and Hot Water Music. They also re-released a handful of albums, including Pezcore.
In 2003, Less Than Jake jumped back on a major label when they put out Anthem on Warner Bros. (WB)/Sire. This was probably their most popular album, featuring “The Brightest Bulb has Burned Out” with Billy Bragg and “The Science of Selling Yourself Short.” Even Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls appeared in their video of “She’s Gonna Break Soon.” Again, they returned to the Warped Tour and went on their own tour supported by Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard.
Then, they released a DVD entitled The People’s History of Less Than Jake before opening the Projekt Revolution Tour the following year with Linkin Park, Korn, Snoop Dogg and The Used. While breaking to write their next album, Less Than Jake toured the U.S. and Europe with many bands, including Catch 22, A Wilhelm Scream and Dropkick Murphys. Afterwards, they released two albums, counting In with the Out Crowd. After playing a bunch of shows highlighting their full length albums in Florida, California and London, they broke from WB and Sire.
Less Than Jake hit the road yet again in 2007 for the Shout it Loud Tour with Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto and Against All Authority — according to Chris, one of his favorite bands and amazing friends — before hitting Japan and Australia with Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto later that year.
The following year, they started their own label, Sleep it Off, reissuing old material before focusing on releasing GNV FLA (2008), which combined third-wave ska with pop-punk. This album featured a couple of singles, including “Conviction Notice.” The band released an EP and played a Florida show with the Supervillains to support the funding of local high school bands. They put out two more EPs, Greetings from.. and Season’s Greetings from Less Than Jake before releasing the full length Greetings and Salutations from Less Than Jake in 2012 The following year, they signed back onto Fat Wreck, putting out See the Light towards the end of the year.
Garyn Klasek is a freelance writer in living in Phoenix.
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