It’s a nostalgic week for Less Than Jake as the popular 90s ska-punk band prepare for their show tonight along with Four Year Strong. LTJ has yet to make their way back to the city since their concert at The National over a year and a half ago, but are excited about their return and to take over the city with both their longtime fans and those new to the LTJ wave.
“Richmond is always a nostalgic piece of history for me because it reminds me of the early 90’s back when we would play at Twisters [Strange Matter] and crash on our friend’s couches. There was always a good camaraderie of bands who ran the punk scene in Richmond back then which originally ignited my love for the city,” said Vinnie Fiorello, drummer and founding member of Less Than Jake.
The quintet, made up of Fiorello, vocalist/guitarist Chris DeMakes, vocalist/bassist Roger Manganelli, saxophonist Peter “JR” Wasilewski, and trombonist Buddy Schaub, was formed in Gainesville in 1992 while its members were all attending the University of South Florida, but only a select few of these Seminoles were actually able to graduate given the rapid take-off of the band and the constant traveling that came with touring.
For over 20 years the band has entertained fans with their interactive live shows since their breakout 1995 album, Pezcore, to hits like “She’s Gonna Break Soon” and “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” off 2003’s Anthem. The band is currently on the road, in support of their 2017 release, Sound the Alarm, and don’t show any signs of slowing down or fading into the background anytime soon.
“If you have people leaving your shows happier and more positive then when they arrived, that ricochets further into the following day, week, month, or even year,” said Fiorello. “Loyal listeners can digest what we say and apply it to their life no matter what year it is, we want to sound different and still adhere to the same fans in 2018 that loved us in the 90s.”
Personally, I have enjoyed listening to Less Than Jake over the past couple of weeks because of the way their lyrics relate to not only my specific life experiences but everyone else’s regardless of how different they are from each other.
“We address a lot of dark cloud topics that aren’t normally addressed in upbeat ska punk, but we do it anyway because we want our lyrics to connect to people where we can tap into their day to day lifestyle and give a different perspective on how to ‘rubix cube’ your post-20 life,” said Fiorello, which is something I think resonates with Richmond very deeply.
Lyrically, he has been focusing on politics, specifically social politics. “I enjoy that the government can be spoken about, especially the economic trickling down of what happens when the government isn’t supporting its people,” said Fiorello.
You can refer to the band’s recent music inspiration as eclectic, to say the least, which can explain their diverse mix of both new and old sounding material. Fiorello said its important to understand that “when you have five distinct personalities and have been around for 26 years, everyone’s tastes are all over the place. Everyone brings a new influence after being together for so long.”
Playing unforgettable live shows and keeping fans happy and engaged are what these guys are concerned with now, but not just for the fans that have been with them since day one, but for fans of the ska-punk genre who may just be stumbling across on their vast discography.
“Our aim is to make the new just as embraced as the old because we still have something to say,” said Fiorello.
Touring with Less Than Jake for the first time since Warped Tour is Four Year Strong, who the band is stoked to have alongside them.
“They are great guys. We always enjoyed watching them perform back in the day and wanted to tour together for a while. It is always great to have those little conversations with bands and actually have the chance to make it a reality in the future,” he said. “I would not miss this iconic duo tonight, they both have upbeat tunes that leave you energized after banging your head to a couple.
As for their concert this Thursday, you can expect an intro from the latest EP as well as a bunch of the nostalgic classics you all know and love. Catch Less Than Jake tonight at 6:30 at The Canal Club at 6:30 PM alongside Richmond’s Flight Club, Four Year Strong, and BEARINGS, and Direct Hit!. Tickets $22-$25.