PropertyOfZack had the chance to catch up with JR from Less Than Jake just a few weeks ago for a fantastic interview. JR and I discussed Less Than Jake’s role on this year’s Warped Tour, his feelings about becoming a “legacy act,” what the future holds for the band, and much more. Read up and enjoy!
Less Than Jake played on the main stage of Warped Tour this year. How was the whole run of dates?
It was good. It was strange because we didn’t think we’d be on the main stage the whole time. We weren’t advertised to be on the main stage either. It just sort of happened. It was really nice of Kevin to do that. He’s a great dude, and Warped Tour is a lot of fun for us. It was weird because it’s a little different from how it used to be.
POZ: Were the crowds definitely there this year for you to be bumped up to the main stage?
JR: I don’t know. I guess when we showed up and played on stage they saw that people still like these old guys. They just kept us there. It’s hard to gauge. I wouldn’t go and watch Asking Alexandria and say their crowd is bigger than us because it’s a totally different thing. They’re a metal band, and they’re popular now. And justifiably so because it’s their time. It’s the same thing with A Day To Remember; you can’t go up and compare what you play in front of with what they play in front of. That band is just massive. You just go and play your show. I don’t really think about it, I just do my thing. It was nice of them to let us stay on the main stage, and we had a great summer.
A lot of people think bands like Less Than Jake couldn’t be friends with bands like Asking Alexandria, but that’s not true in your case. Can you talk about that?
I don’t get a chance to tour with those bands. I don’t specifically like their music when I first get into it, but it’s always cool to see what bands at Warped Tour I end up handing out with. I honestly don’t care. I’m more into people than I am into bands. I’d rather just hang out with somebody if they’re cool and have a cool take on life. Danny from Asking Alexandria is a perfect example; they’re the band I wasn’t too stoked on in the beginning for personal reasons. Then you watch the band, meet the dudes, and talk to the dudes, and the dude has things to say that are totally mind-blowing to me. I never thought I’d hear something like that from out of his mouth, and that makes me grow as a person. I try not to hate. Hate is a bad thing in music. Black Veil Brides, fucking best kids, and they work really hard. Those guys are more punk then most of the dudes who call themselves punk, because they’re doing it to the fullest of their ability and they’re not trying to apologize for being who they are. That was another band I wasn’t sure about. That’s what I think is cool about Warped Tour; you befriend people you basically wouldn’t. There are a lot of politics in punk rock, and I kind of play by my own rules because we’re ska-punk.
You guys were recording an EP in May that got released in June, as a surprise to almost everyone. Did you want to throw everyone off with that release?
We planned it, we don’t do anything without thought going into it. I think releasing full records these days is kind of retarded. We just come up with different ways to release a record. There’s just so much static out there. I’m not trying to call people out, but there are a lot of things in modern music right now that are totally bumming me out. Maybe we’re not doing anything fun or creative like putting dance tracks to everything we do, but we’re never going to do that. We keep putting out songs and we keep putting them out in interesting ways, so people go, “Fuck, that’s awesome.” Then they steal the idea from us and make millions of dollars off of it. I guess we’ll just always be that band, and I think I’m cool with that. I see a bunch of these fucking bullshiters going out and writing crappy pop songs that sound like the next one, but I guess we kind of write crappy pop songs that sound like the next one too. So I’ll let the live my life and I’ll live mine. As far as releasing songs, as you get older people care less and less about what you do now. It’s more about what you’ve already done, and we’ve realized that. The term legacy act applies to our band when you refer to Less Than Jake. We do work really hard on our new songs though compared to our contemporaries, and we’re one of the few of them that do that. It’s not going be the best of the best, but it’s pretty good. Kids get it for free anyway. We’re trying to find new ways to put things out. Jay-Z and Kanye West had to hire fucking security guards for their hard drives. We just don’t announce the record and put it out. It’s better that way because we’re not Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Is it hard to stomach the adjustment of becoming a legacy act?
It’s harder to admit that you’re getting old to admit that you’re a legacy act. I’m fine with what I’ve done musically. I have friends that are younger than me that are experiencing the heights of their careers now, and I think that’s fucking awesome. It’s their time, and it was my time whenever it was, but I’m still able to do it. I don’t get bummed at what we do, I just get bummed that my back hurts more and that I can’t quite stay up past 1AM without help of a Red Bull. I think it’s just realizing that you’re getting older. That’s more difficult. I’ve had conversations about this with tons of other dudes that are my age and older in bands. Kids still come and have fun, and that’s awesome. We’re lucky. The thing I see though is that I don’t know how many of the bands on Warped Tour now will still be around in ten years. First day of Warped Tour I wore my 2001 Warped shirt and people were like, “Really?” That wasn’t even my first one. I’m okay with who I am and what I’m doing. Everyone else has to be that way too.
Just as far as how you released that EP, are you guys just trying to keep it exciting for the band personally as well?
Well, you have to. It’s a game, and we play the game. We still give a shit. We care enough about our band and we care enough about our fans to make it like a scavenger hunt. Maybe that’s a weird thing, but I know there are too many bands that follow the structure that’s been set out for them. They all wear the same haircut, and they look the same with their pants and t-shirt. I wore the uniform too when I was younger, we all do. Nobody thinks outside of the box though. Nobody wants to cut their own path because it takes too much work. People asked me where we fit in this summer, and we don’t; we never did. For me, that’s awesome. Between you and I and the people who read this, there are times that I have this jealousy of fame my friends have achieved or whatever. But that’s human nature to be jealous. I’ve heard though that people who have that fame look at what I have and want this. The grass is always greener. I don’t know why we’ve been allowed to go this long, but I know it has something to do with the fact about how approach what we do. We take our band seriously.
Were there more songs that were written and not released?
There were songs, but they weren’t full thought out ideas. They were chord progressions and things. Writing is constant with us, so they might be used in our next release.
There have been rumors of Less Than Jake slowing down or being less of a priority, which isn’t unexpected as you get older. Have there been discussions about things happening less frequently?
I think in anything that you do, as you get older, people become used to it. So you can’t compete with a younger ticket buying audience and with what’s hot and popular. Your fan base also gets older as you get older, so people have a limited budget. The only reason we’d be slowing down is because dudes are having families, which is the number one priority to us. The economy is telling us that we can’t tour the US three times a year. I don’t think any band should be doing that. You can’t over-saturate the market because everyone is touring. Sometimes if you make somebody wait for a minute, they want to see your band. We’re not going anywhere, but we’re slowing down on purpose. We’re turning twenty next year though, so how slow are we going? We’re taking time off now for the rest of the year because people have been having families and getting married. We’re not in our twenties anymore. Let those bands go on tour nine months a year. We can go on tour like six months a year. We’ll still go on tour and do stuff, but some people need to live. We’re not over it or against it, but sometimes everyone else needs a break too. I think our fans will still be there. We try to stay active with our fans. We’re also not going to be a bunch of bullshit breakup artists though who get back together and tour. That’s just stupid. I know I did a reunion show with my old band, but that was one show. To those people who do reunion tours and shit, fuck off. I’m not going to name names, but I’m getting over it. Maybe we should breakup too and do a reunion tour. We like each other and we’re still friends. I don’t know if all those other bands like each other still, they’re just going for a paycheck. Isn’t that sad? I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.
So Less Than Jake is hopefully building excitement with fans for the next time you do something.
Yeah, and we also want a good tour. Next year is our 20th anniversary, so whatever we do next year is going to be something that all our fans will want to come and see. That’s what we’re shooting for. I don’t think we’ll be relaxing the next five months. We’re taking a little vacation right now, but then planning starts. We’re doing one-offs here and there. I would say that we’re just not going to be on a tour bus for the fall. There are a lot of people touring this fall though, so go see them.
Do you think that you will likely release some sort of music next year at all?
Of course we’ll release something next year. We’ll be back out on tour too. All the guys from All Time Low will still be wearing tight pants too. There are things that will happen next year. I don’t read the Internet, I look at sports. I don’t go to AbsolutePunk or Punk News, or any of that shit. I’ll follow it and look at the headlines, but it’s rare that I go and read it. I’d rather read about sports. For anyone that thinks we’re going anywhere, they’re misinformed. I think that we’ve been around a long time and we’ll continue to be around.
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