Less Than Jake Overview

Less Than Jake is an American United States ska punk band from Gainesville, Florida. Originally formed in 1992 as a power pop trio, the band evolved into a hybrid of ska punk. Less Than Jake have also been cited as showing influences from a wide variety of genres including post-grunge, alternative rock, third wave ska, punk pop and punk revival. To date, the group has released eight full-length studio albums and a number of singles and compilations. The current lineup comprises guitarist/vocalist Chris Demakes, bassist/vocalist Roger Manganelli, drummer/lyricist Vinnie Fiorello, trombonist Buddy Schaub and saxophonist Peter "JR" Wasilewski.

On June 24, 2008 the band released their latest studio album, GNV FLA, on their own label Sleep It Off Records.


 
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Origins

Before the formation of Less Than Jake, vocalist and guitarist Chris Demakes, drummer Vinnie Fiorello, and bassist Shaun Grief led a local band named Good Grief while attending high school in Port Charlotte, Florida. Good Grief broke up when Demakes moved north to attend the University of Florida at Gainesville, Florida. On July 13, 1992 what would become Less Than Jake was born. While Grief moved to New York City (he would later return as the band's roadie), Demakes and Fiorello began writing songs on the weekends before Fiorello would join Demakes at the University of Florida. When united, the pair decided they needed a bass player, but first, they wanted a name. Fiorello said:



The band's name comes from Fiorello's dog, Jake, who was treated better than the rest of the household, so everything was "less than Jake". After practicing with a different bass player for a couple of weeks, the band met Roger Manganelli, a guitarist who also attended the University of Florida. After Manganelli practiced with the band on guitar for a few hours, the band fired the current bass player and recruited him instead. Citing influence from Snuff Snuff (band) , the band decided they wanted to add a horn section.

In 1993, the group added their first horn horn section player, Jessica Mills, and released their first 7" record, Smoke Spot, hand pressing all 300 records themselves . Soon after, trombone player Buddy Schaub joined the band. Over the first few years, the band put out their first EP, Better Class Of Losers, made compilation appearances, and released several vinyl records (featuring songs that would later appear on the 1995 Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand compilation), before Mike Park agreed to release the band's debut album on Dill Records. Right before the band's first U.S. tour in June 1995 with Skankin' Pickle, Schaub had already made plans to travel to Europe with his friends. The band found a temporary replacement in saxophonist Derron Nuhfer, who filled in for Schaub during his absence. Derron eventually became a permanent member in August 1995.

Less Than Jake's first full length LP Pezcore debuted in August 1995, featuring such staples as "Liquor Store"' and "My Very Own Flag". Originally on Dill Records, the CD contained 21-tracks, including two covers of TV theme songs Jeffersons and Laverne and Shirley (which were omitted on the 2002 reissue through Fueled By Ramen). The title of the album stems from Roger and Vinnie's unexplained fondness for Pez candy, clearly apparent in their reportedly sizable Pez dispenser collections, and the pervasively used suffix "core". Ever since, Pez dispenser motifs have been a common feature of Less Than Jake's merchandise.


Commercial growth

Shortly following the release of Pezcore, the band was signed to Capitol Records. They debuted on the major label in 1996 with Losing Streak. The album was full of the band's wry, fast-paced brand of ska-punk anthems, producing such fan favorites as "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts", "Jen Doesn't Like Me Anymore", and "Automatic". Following the 1997 Warped Tour, saxophonist Jessica Mills left to pursue teaching, and was later replaced by ex-Slapstick Slapstick (band) trombonist Pete Anna in January 1998 (trombonist Lars Nylander served as a fill-in during the fall of 1997). Around this time, Vinnie Fiorello also started his own record label, Fueled by Ramen, with friend John Janick, as a means to find and promote up-and-coming bands that he himself would want to hear. During 1997, the band's po***rity soared, as they embarked on the Caffeine Nation Tour with the Descendents Descendents (band) , Guttermouth, and Handsome; the Race Around Uranus Tour with Blink-182 and Frenzal Rhomb; and the Warped Tour, helping the band spend the majority of the year on Billboard Heatseekers chart.

In 1998, after participating in the Ska Against Racism Tour with such ska acts as The Toasters and Mustard Plug, and the Warped Tour, the band released Hello Rockview, which included staple songs such as "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" and "Last One Out Of Liberty City", which is commonly used as a circle-pitter. The band even spawned a minor college radio hit Chart-topper with "History of a Boring Town", which reached #39 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, despite not being released as a video single. Following the album, tensions started to grow with Capitol. There were disagreements over various issues, including Capitol dragging its feet over funding a video for "History of a Boring Town", the band attempting to sell full length shows on MP3.com, and the band selling two full length CDs, Bootleg a Bootleg, You Cut Out The Middle Man and Goodbye Blue and White through their webstore, which their contract stated didn't have to be through Capitol. After recording what would be Borders & Boundaries, the band opted to buyout their contract from the major label and release the new album on Fat Wreck Chords instead.

In September 2000, the band released Borders & Boundaries, as well as landing the opening spot on Bon Jovi's North American Fall tour. While it was neither as commercially successful as previous releases initially, the album contained singles such as "Look What Happened" (which received minor airplay on college stations) and their home-town anthem, "Gainesville Rock City" (which received some airtime on MTV2). Shortly after the album's recording, Derron Nuhfer left the band (going on to join Gunmoll and later Escape Grace; he currently plays bass for Cutman, a Gainesville-based rock band featuring ex members of Escape Grace and Unitas), and Less Than Jake found a replacement in the ashes of another ska band, this time ex-Spring Heeled Jack U.S.A. saxophonist, Pete Wasilewski. To avoid the confusion provided by having two Peters within the band, the second Pete Wasilewski was dubbed JR (as in 'Peter Junior'). He still goes by JR even following the departure of the first Pete after the 2001 Warped Tour.

In 2002, Less Than Jake spent time touring with Bad Religion and Hot Water Music while spending most of the summer touring in Europe. Less Than Jake re-released their compilation album, Goodbye Blue and White, which included various 7" releases spanning from 1996-2001, and provided a different track listing from the first pressing. The album was named in honor of their original tour van, with the liner notes having the band recounting memories of the van. To celebrate the band's 10th year anniversary, Pezcore was re-released and the band's first four 7", Smoke Spot, Pez Kings, Unglued, and Rock-n-Roll Pizzeria, were repressed and included in a limited edition Cereal Box (which also featured a t-shirt, bobblehead, and pin).


Less Than Jake returned to major label status with their next album Anthem Anthem (Less Than Jake album) , releasing the 2003 LP on Warner Bros./Sire Records. The album was arguably Less Than Jake's most successful commercially. Debuting at #45 on the Billboard 200 (the band's highest to date), the album featured three major singles in both the US and the UK, with "She's Gonna Break Soon" (which spent a couple weeks on TRL), "The Science Of Selling Yourself Short" (which spent fives weeks on the Billboard Top 40, peaking at #37), and "The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out" (featuring Billy Bragg) which spent time in the UK Top 40. Actress Alexis Bledel, known for her role as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls appeared in the video for She's Gonna Break Soon, where she played the unnamed subject of the song, an angsty teen girl who has a nervous breakdown, and destroys her bedroom over the course the song. The band spent the rest of the year promoting the new album by playing the Warped Tour and gained support from Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and Bang Tango during their Fall 2003 tour. The band released B Is for B-sides in July 2004. The album comprised tracks that didn't make Anthem's final cut and was produced by Less Than Jake. The DVD retrospective The People's History of Less Than Jake appeared a month later, featuring both professional and bootleg recordings of the band. The band also held the opening spot on the main stage during the Projekt Revolution tour in the summer of 2004 with Linkin Park, Korn, Snoop Dogg, and The Used before taking a long break to write their next record.


Recent activity

After spending the majority of 2005 writing and recording, the band opened 2006 by going on a full U.S. and Europe tour that also featured Catch 22 Catch 22 (band) , A Wilhelm Scream, The Loved Ones The Loved Ones (American band) , The New Mexican Disaster Squad, Rock-n-Roll Soldiers, Damone, Dropkick Murphys, and Far From Finished. In April 2006, the band released its four-song Absolution for Idiots and Addicts (EP), with their next full-length, In with the Out Crowd, following a month later on Sire Records. The album was also issued in a limited edition that came in a leather-bound case complete with bonus multimedia discs that contained a plethora of music videos, bonus tracks and an elaborate photo gallery.

In February 2007, Less Than Jake played six shows in Florida that each featured the band playing one of their albums in its entirety, plus b-sides and rarities. They played at three venues with each venue featuring two shows to be recorded for a possible DVD release. The records performed were Borders and Boundaries, Pezcore, Losing Streak, Anthem Anthem (Less Than Jake album) , Hello Rockview, and In with the Out Crowd. They then did the same in London, United Kingdom, in September 2007, playing at the Astoria II for 6 nights in a row.

On May 21, 2007, after much speculation, Vinnie Fiorello announced on his blog that the band had asked and granted their release from their contract with Sire Records and Warner Brothers. Following this split, the band released five high quality (MP3, 320kbit/s), DRM Digital rights management -free, unedited recordings of their live shows, taken directly from the mixing console at each show. These recordings are being released for sale on the band's website via Snocap. During the 6 Albums / 6 Shows / 6 Nights in London, Chris stated that Less Than Jake's new record label in the UK and Europe would be Cooking Vinyl.

In the summer 2007, Less Than Jake embarked on the Shout It Loud Tour, co-headlining with Reel Big Fish and featuring support from Streetlight Manifesto and Against All Authority. During the shows, the band held a spoof of The Price is Right, quizzing the contestants on various Less Than Jake "trivia", having them play a few games from the shows, using the games to determine which album they'd play selections from, and giving prizes to the winners. The band reunited with Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto for a Japan and Australia tour in December 2007.

On January 8, 2008 after speculation that the next Less Than Jake record could be released on Fat Wreck Chords or Victory Records, CMJ reported that the band was starting their own label, named Sleep It Off Records, the name taken from the title of a song from the B is for B-sides record. The purpose of the new label is to release the band's forthcoming album in summer 2008 and to reissue their back catalog. Reissues of Goodbye Blue And White, Pezcore, Losers, Kings And Things We Don't Understand, and the DVD The Peoples History Of Less Than Jake were released on March 18. The reissues include new artworks and bonus DVDs.



Upon talking about their new album, Vinnie mentioned his desire to "combine third wave ska and pop punk in each song," The first single from GNV FLA was the LP's third track, Does The Lion City Still Roar?, with the video to be released at a later date (it was recorded in New York City in June). GNV FLA was officially released June 24, 2008.

The band announced at the Reading/Leeds Festivals that Conviction Notice would be the second single off the new album. They also stated at other various concerts during their recent Europe tour that they were recording video footage for a new DVD. Here is a recent webcast video the band did in October of 2008:

The band has no current plans for any full tours in 2010 nor have they stated any plans to record a new album. They have, however, purchased the rights to all of their past releases and plan to re-release them over the next year and a half through their own record label, Sleep It Off.In June 2009, Internet radio station PunkRadioCast teamed up with Jones Soda to create a punk pop 6 pack featuring labels designed by PunkRadioCast and five punk artists – New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, Bad Brains, Thursday Thursday (band) and The Gaslight Anthem.
'The 6 pack includes':
* Less Than Jake – Root Beer
* The Gaslight Anthem – Cream Soda
* New Found Glory – Fufu Berry
* Bad Brains – Rootz Beer
* Thursday Thursday (band) – Cream Soda
* PunkRadioCast – Strawberry LimeVinnie and his friend John Janick started up the independent record label Fueled by Ramen, which Vinnie has recently left. On May 13, 2008 Vinnie launched his new indie label, called Paper + Plastick. In the press release, Vinnie stated the inspiration for the name; "If you think about it, prints and books are the paper side, while vinyl records and toys are the plastic side. It’s a simple and to-the-point concept." The label is currently slated to release new albums; a concept album from Andrew Dost, The Landmines debut album, and the final release from The Explosion.

Vinnie also owns a toy company called Wünderland War, originally called Monkey VS Robot. The name was changed due to legal issues. Vinnie has also started a second toy company with a friend called Symptoms. Many of these toys have been featured in art books and shows.

Roger has a side-project called Rehasher, who have recorded an album Off Key Melodies on Gainesville based record label No Idea Records in 2004. He plays guitar (not bass) for Rehasher, and is also their lead singer. Roger also has a recording studio at his home, dubbed as the Moat House. Some local bands record music here and Rehasher's second album, High Speed Access To My Brain, was recorded here.

JR composes his own solo music on top of working with a promoting company called the CT Mafia. He contributed one track to the Drive-Thru Records tribute to Bob Dylan, under the name "The Stay at Home Joneses" which also featured secondary vocals by Roger.

In 1996, Vinnie, Chris, and Roger served as backup musicians for Asian Man Records owner Mike Park in The Bruce Lee Band (former sax player Derron also provided horns on some of the tracks).

Buddy is involved in a side band called PB&J; in which he provides the bass, vocals and occasional trombone, as well as the bands Black Ice that he plays all instruments for. Buddy is one half of Coffee Project along with Jake Crown who released a self-titled album on the aforementioned Paper and Plastick label. Together they decided that "a couple of acoustic guitars and a trombone was all they really needed".

Chris has been recording his own solo music while not working with Less Than Jake.

Former bassist Shaun Grief joined hardcore punk band Victim Youth out of Fort Myers, FL in 2007.
Current members

*Chris Demakes - guitar, lead vocals
*Roger Manganelli - bass, lead vocals, second guitar (occasionally live and while recording)
*Vinnie Fiorello - drums, lyrics
*Buddy "Goldfinger" Schaub - trombone, bass (plays bass guitar when Manganelli plays second guitar at concerts)
*Peter "JR" Wasilewski - saxophone, background vocals


Past members

*Shaun Grief - bass
*Jessica Mills - alto saxophone
*Derron Nuhfer - tenor and baritone saxophones
*Pete Anna - alto trombone


Guest musicians

*Lars Nylander (from Skankin' Pickle) - valve trombone (live)
*Vinny Nobile (from Pilfers) - trombone (live)
*Scott Klopfenstein (from Reel Big Fish) - trumpet (GNV FLA)
*Chris Rhodes (from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) - trombone (live)
*Cut Chemist- turntables ("Dopeman")
*Kel Mitchell - lead singer ("We're All Dudes")
*Billy Bragg - lead singer ("The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out")
*Heather Tabor (from Teen Idols - backup vocals ("Look What Happened" Anthem version))
*Jason "Jay" Whalley (from Frenzal Rhomb - guest vocal ("Jay Frenzal"))
*Talib Kweli - guest rapping (live version of "The Science of Selling Yourself Short")
*Mark Hoppus (from blink-182 and +44 +44 (band) )- Co-writer ("The Rest of My Life")
Studio albums

*Pezcore (1995)
*Losing Streak (1996)
*Hello Rockview (1998)
*Borders & Boundaries (2000)
*Anthem Anthem (Less Than Jake album) (2003)
*B Is for B-sides (2004)
*In With the Out Crowd (2006)
*GNV FLA (2008)
 

 

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