POZ Interview: Less Than Jake

by Zack Zarrillo - Nov 7, 2013

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PropertyOfZack had the chance to talk with Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake a few weeks ago for a great interview. We spoke with Vinnie about the band’s first album in five years, signing back with a label, the evolution of their band within the music scene, and much more. Read the full interview below!

So this is Less Than Jake’s first album in five years. But what I think is more interesting is the in between time since the last record. You released two EP’s and a TV covers EP. There’s a time there where you guys were writing shorter material instead of going for the full record. Was there a reason for that? 
I think that is more so talking about a bigger picture of how people digest music. It’s just that over the last decade, people are trained to digest smaller amounts of music and not a full record. You know? Most definitely, in pop music, people are trained to digest a single and ignore pretty much everything else until the next single comes along. I think that it’s kind of caught up with us. After doing GNV FLA, it was like we put so much time and so much energy into that and it wound up with people saying “This song’s good, and this song isn’t.” It just felt that it was time that we needed a break after following the format of the full-length for that nineteen years, or eighteen at the time that “Yeah we’re writing for a full length.” We just kind of decided to go along with the times and just do short bursts of creative energy and go for EPs. And we got to do some stuff that’s fun, like the TV EP was a fun thing to do and just really a breath of fresh air comparatively speaking to going to the studio to record a full length. Between now and then, we just wanted to do – to be short bursts of creative energy, of songwriting, and kind of flesh it out. On top of that, Roger was getting his studio tweaked out. For lack of a better word, he was learning as well. So we were just wanting to do some stuff that was easy and fun to do and we did it with Roger to kind of flesh out some future plans and flash forward now to the full length. 

You put those first two EPs together for the first release on Fat [Wreck Chords] for that kind of full length thing. But for that time in the middle where you were sort of playing around with grabbing attention, not just with the full length, was that a worthwhile thing for you guys to do? Looking back?
Yeah I think so. I mean, TV/EP was definitely worthwhile because it was something that was fun man. I think that there’s some people where the fun of that project was sort of missed. Some of the reviews of it were like, “Oh, well the production value on it was not up to what it was before, it’s over in 11 minutes,” or whatever it was. They didn’t talk about, “Hey we just did the theme songs from ‘this’ and it was something fun for the band to do and you could be embracing that sort of buoyancy of it and not this sort of deadpanning about what the release wasn’t compared to what it was.” I think it was important for the band to do it. Just because we wanted something to do and be clean writing a record and writing songs. We’re pleased with it as well because it just keeps the band in people’s minds while you’re writing a full length. So that would be the key thing, TV/EP a different head state about it, but it’s still the same. It’s something fun to do but also kept people talking about the band. When you don’t have that scheme or craft of marketing behind you, that keeps on sort of plunging, you need something else. You need content to be generated. We’ve never been generating content like The Electric Tumblr or something like that. So I think that for us, the only way to generate content would be to play shows and go on tour or do these quick releases and sort of generate news. I think it worked. 

I would agree that when you guys finally announced that you were recording this record and that it was coming out, there seems to be more of a general excitement. Not that Less Than Jake had been away for years, but that there was more anticipation now for a record even after two EPs. 
It’s just that people picked up on how excited we are on the release. You know? That goes a long way. When a band’s generally excited about something that they’re going to do, that excitement become infectious. That’s a cool thing. Not to say that TV/EP didn’t have that excitement but not really as much as, I think, this record is generating at least in our camp. But people pick up on that. Not only that but I think that people were not having that for once and not having that one thing to grab onto since 2008, I think people are genuinely excited to have that now. I think that if we kept on doing that format for a full length, I don’t know if we’d have the same excitement. 

Like you said, you guys recorded with Roger in his new-ish studio. Was it nice to do it yourselves and on your own available schedule? 
Of course. Myself and Roger being new dads. It’s definitely great to have your own schedule that we can sort of pull in to and not get crazy. Besides that, this is the first record that we’ve done since Anthem that it’s been a very cool and natural recording process as well as songwriting process. I think that shows on the record, I think it shows on the recording, and I think it shows on the enthusiasm coming from the band. It wasn’t forced in any way, it was just kind of showing up and sitting at this round table and “here’s this idea,” and “maybe if we did it this way? Maybe if we did it that way? What if we changed this and flipped this over?” It was a constant creative process. And it was a constant working process. Then it naturally went into the studio and it was still the same people that were sitting around the table. Then it just kept on forming and kept on forming. And even going for Fat Wreck Chords, it was just a cool and natural progression to continue working with Fat Wreck Chords after the Greetings… and it wasn’t this big sort of business, you know? Like, “What’s Fat Wreck Chords going to bring to the table?” It was like, “Hey this was extended family and this is what we’re doing and here’s what it is.” I think when you combine all of that, it makes for a really sort of exciting and a really energetic record. 

Like you mentioned, this is with Fat Wreck Chords. It is just kind of like family and you guys have toured with NOFX many times. But was there a reason that you wanted to go with a label instead of doing it on your own like the last few EPs? Is this Less Than Jake saying they want to be more of a full band for a real cycle again?
Well, we’re definitely doing a full cycle for this record. There’s no doubt about that. Yeah we are ready to do that, but I think that we didn’t do it on Sleep It Off because you really don’t know – well, you may know – and my people may know, but the amount of time and the amount of energy going into a record cycle when you’re not even in the band, when you’re a label let’s say, the amount of energy and amount of time that goes into marketing and goes into corralling everything and working together – all of these parts – the timing is supposed to get shorter and shorter that you have available to you. Right? For us, I think that we had to relinquish some of that ownership of the record to a label, just because we simply didn’t have the time to do it. Before, it was a bit of a different story. We had a lot of hands, it was great and they took a lot of the heavy lifting out of the bands hands and into that. That was good. But this time around, I think that we wanted those specific things when it came to marketing, we wanted to specifically tour X amount of days for the next two years, and we just don’t have time to concentrate on marketing the record and then executing that marketing of the record as well as being on tour and then being everything a normal person is on top of being a band. So we had to relinquish some of that ownership of the record to make for a better release and that makes sense to me. 

One song has been released so far. Were you guys happy with the reception?
I think it’s been years. I think that when you have a band that’s been around 20 years, it takes a lot to get people excited. You would think that it’s the exact opposite, that you’ve been a band for so long that you have this fan base and that they automatically get excited but that’s not true at all. I think that if you have been a fan for 20 years, it takes a lot more to get that you excited than it does for someone who’s only been listening to you for four years. Because there are obvious expectations that come from being a fan. You want it or think you want it to sound a certain way and when it doesn’t that may take some – or whatever it is, man. To stand next to band a long time, that’s very critical or hypercritical of the things you do as a band. So I think that with the first track that came out, there was – people were really critical of it. There’s a lot of thought that went into some of the comments and then you have that one buzzkill for every hundred great comments. But that’s the world that we live in, the trolls that you have to deal with online. 

In two weeks now, the Fat Tour kicks off with Anti-Flag, Masked Intruder, Get Dead. That will be Less Than Jake’s first six week tour in a while besides some dates over the summer. Is this the cycle we should expect? I know you guys are going to the UK. 
This is the start of the cycle, man. It’s a whole US tour and then we come home. In the end of January and in February it’s the full UK tour. Then we come home from that and then even though it’s not announced yet, by the time this runs it probably will be, Australian tour. That’s in March. You’ll see it start to form afterwards that yeah, it’s a world tour that starts the beginning of our album cycle. 

To wrap things up, any time a ten year album comes up, people always hope for a ten year tour. You guys did play Anthem once I think, over your festival a few weeks ago. Was there no necessary interest or time to do a full tour for that?
You know, we had talked about it, playing Anthem all the way through and then after thinking about it, I didn’t want to sort of ruin the vibe for the new record. If the new record had been slightly marginal or I might have been disappointed by it, or whatever the case may be, maybe we’d have spent more energy in looking back instead of looking forward. But I’m excited I’m excited to be looking forward.  I’m sure that Anthem’s a great record and we’ll play it in its entirety plenty of times in the future, but I want to spend my time looking forward, not looking back. I think that there’s plenty of milestones ahead as a band. So to revisit our milestone right before a new record comes out. It was just distracting to the band and would distract the fans as well. With that said, Anthem, for me, marks a very creative time that we had as a band between the songs that made B is for B-Sides and then the songs that went on Anthem. I think there will be a time and place to have some shows and have a good time with that. It just wasn’t the right time to do it before the new record came out.

  1. rebeccavcmag said: Great interview! Love these guys. I have shot them several times.
  2. kman3115 reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    One of the first bands I got into. A really cool read. Check it out.
  3. propertyofzack posted this
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