Who is Less Than Jake?
That’s a legitimate question for someone who has been out of touch with the independent or punk music scene for the last quarter of a century. To some, the name may bringyou back to a movie soundtrack or a video game; others are transported to a sweaty day on the Vans Warped Tour. One thing that can not be argued is that if you have experienced Less Than Jake live, it is something that you will never forget.
Formed in Gainesville, FL in 1992 by drummer Vinnie Fiorello and lead vocalist/guitaristChris DeMakes, the band knew in its formative years their live show would be what setthem apart from their contemporaries. Later joined by vocalist/bassist Roger Lima andtrombonist Buddy Schaub, the band set off on tour and haven’t slowed down much at all, other than to have saxophonist J.R. Wasilewski join their ranks in 2000. Now withthe same lineup for well over seventeen of their twenty five years, they have becomeone of the most consistent and entertaining live acts in or out of punk rock.
With their ten full length releases, numerous EP’s, 7″ singles and compilations, the bandhas quietly sold over two million records worldwide, with little support from radio andtelevision outlets. They have been self managed for the last five years and have shownno signs of slowing down its break neck touring schedule. To quote an industry insider, “while their contemporaries crowds have diminished, Less Than Jake’s draw has seemingly gotten larger.” If asked how this was accomplished, the band members shrug andrespond, “we never stopped touring or trying to be an active band.”
Continuing to play over 150 dates a year while also writing and recording new materialhas kept the band fresh in a time when “ska” has become something of a four letter word. The list of acts they have supported is staggering (Bon Jovi, Linkin Park, SnoopDogg) while the list of bands that have supported them makes even the most hardenedmusic industry veteran do a double take (Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Yellowcard). All thewhile the band has held firm to its punk rock roots and have managed to live throughmany musical trends simply by just being Less Than Jake.
With well over 300 releases on various labels under their belt, most would think their legacy was in tact. But the status quo has never interested Less Than Jake. They continue to write and perform new material and have no thoughts of letting up. With the energy and exuberance of a band half its age and the determination of savvy veterans, there is seemingly no end point to this enduring and entertaining band.
So who is Less Than Jake? Go see a show and find out.