Twenty-five years and over three hundred releases later, Less Than Jake return to Australia to play five headlining dates this October as part of their 25th-anniversary tour, bringing their new EP Sound The Alarm with them.
We spoke to drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorello while he wrapped up his day in his familiar hometown of Gainsville Florida.
Less Than Jake have been to Australia numerous times in the past few years, having appeared at Soundwave 2009, 2011 and 2014 while most recently doing a co-headline tour with Reel Big Fish in 2015. This will be the first time Australia’s will see a lengthy headline show from Less Than Jake.
Upside: Having performed for so long are there songs and albums that you wish you had performed more live or at this rate do you think you have the freedom to play whatever you want and the fans will still lap it up?
Vinnie: Not to sound dickish, but 25 years in we can pretty much play what we want. But we’re always very, very aware of what fans want as well. So we’re not greedy when it comes ‘hey, fuck it, we’re playing new songs because we want to play those songs, who cares about everyone else’. So we know that there are x amount of songs that people want to hear and that’s cool by us.
Upside: The trend at the moment is anniversary shows and a lot of bands will just play one album in full. For you guys, it must be hard to pick one album. Have you ever done one of those anniversary shows where you do an album in full? What do you personally think of those?
Vinnie: We’ve done tons of those shows, you go back ten years ago we did those shows and we played six records. We’ve done, Hello Rockview shows, Losing Streak shows we’ve done bunches and bunches and bunches of those shows. The problem is that later after we were doing them tonnes of bands started to do them, so it just loses its touch. It goes from hey, this is a fun thing to do, to yeah, so and so band’s did that. It feels stale to do that.
Upside: I presume you’ll be debuting new songs from the new EP Sound The Alarm when you’re over in Australia and you guys seem to be consistently releasing good new music while still staying true to your classic sound and genre. You can’t say that for many other bands who have been going for 25 years, what do you think that comes down to?
Vinnie: You know what, I think it’s just being comfortable in your own skin. There was a moment in time for Less Than Jake where you’re stretching your musical writing prowess and you’re searching for who you are and what you do. With Less Than Jake, it was fairly shortlived, we know who we are as a band, we know what we do as songwriters. Sure if we wanted to do a dub reggae record we could. At the same time, is that a Less Than Jake record? I don’t know. It’s a very odd thing, we’re a band of five guys that are very self-aware, we enjoy writing in a style and that’s what we do. We’re passionate about being in Less Than Jake, I’m not passionate about being in Slayer, you know?
Some people aren’t okay with that, you know being in a band for so long going ‘what should I do, and how should I reinvent myself’, that’s fucking boring to me, to be honest. It’s so cliche’ that you have to try and turn something musically within yourself. There are not many bands who can do that seamlessly. Currently, one band that can do that seamlessly is Brand New. Every record is a bit different, every record seems like it’s a different vibe and headspace. I’m more on the Bad Religion side of it where Bad Religion sounds like Bad Religion and I’m cool with that.
Upside: It has been 4 years since your last full-length release, what made ‘Sound The Alarm’ an EP instead of an album, was it a lack of songs that the band had written together during those 4 years or are you saving some songs for an upcoming album anytime soon?
Vinnie: It wasn’t at all man, we wrote a bunch of songs, we wrote 13 or 14 songs where we could have recorded a full-length record but it didn’t feel like it was a cohesive LP. So we took those 7 songs that felt great together and recorded them and these other songs, maybe they’re not ready to hatch yet, maybe they’ll never be ready to hatch. They’re okay and they’re good but they didn’t fit in with this other stuff. And again, it comes back to being in a band for 25 years, I’m cool with that, I’m cool with not being forced into doing a record that is a sub-par record because someone wanted a full-length. Would you rather 13 songs half of them being okay, half of them being good, or do you want an EP of all good songs.
It’s just one of those things, being a band for 25 years, you’re not forced to do anything you don’t want to do. You can just go ‘hey, just not feeling it, we wrote a bunch of songs, just not feeling it, okay we don’t have to, let’s go record these 7 songs and go put it out’. And next time if it’s only 1 song, we’ll go record that song and put it out as a single.