In a world where some bands cannot last twenty minutes, Less Than Jake has given fans top-notch tunes that span two decades. Chris DeMakes (vocals/guitar), Roger Mangenelli (vocals/bass), Vinnie Fiorello (lyrics/drums), Buddy Schaub (trombone), and J.R. Wasilewski (saxophone) have consistently brought fans the ska/punk/metal music we live (and dance) to.
Longevity is essential. Less Than Jake features the original four guys who started the band. There have been no line-up changes and only one addition of the “new guy” Wasilewski, who has been with the group for fifteen years. Less Than Jake is many things, but most crucial is that the band is a democracy. DeMakes stated, “We all strive to better each other. If I come in with an idea for a song, or one of the other guys does, it’s analyzed, it’s tweaked. It’s completely thrown into the blender of all of us. We share everything equally (except for our girlfriends)”. Working and living together in a tour bus has formed Less Than Jake into a band of brothers. Continuity is the key to their dynamic music and high energy stage show. They could not do it without each other.
Just do it. Probably the most difficult part of life is learning to trust your own instincts. Lyrics from the song, “Jump” ask “Remember when you had all the answers/Nothing else even mattered/It was just you, and you alone/And you can feel it in your bones”. Decisions would be easier if we all had a crystal ball, but sometimes we have to fly by the seat of our pants. Relying on your ingrained instincts can provide the direction and inspiration to go forward.
It’s new and improved. Less Than Jake is well known for their ability to produce new music that appeals to all audiences. However, the extensive discography remains pertinent to generations of fans that find meaning in their songs. Demakes explains “I think the stories remain relevant. We’ve created memories for people that now they are passing down to their children and to their other friends”. The video portrayal of a 2006 hit, “The Rest of My Life” featured children in adult roles reacting to loss and indecision. It is poignant and touching to see how children perceive the adults around them. Eight years later, the video has over 2, 842,950 views on YouTube. Another song, “Plastic Cup Politics” rings true for college students in all parts of the world, who find their courage in the bottom of a cup. Released over four years ago, fans are still posting covers of this song, the most recent less than two weeks ago.
Dancing is a requirement, not an option. Not only is singing louder than the band acceptable at a Less Than Jake performance, it is recommended that you put away your cell phones and concentrate on having a good time. Because if you insist on texting, recording, or posting on Twitter, the band will call you out. From the confetti cannon that opens the show to the toilet paper blow torch, Less Than Jake is much more fun than a cell phone anyway. I have seen Less Than Jake perform many times over the past two decades and I always leave thinking it was the best time ever. Seasoned performers, Less Than Jake are polished musicians that have fun doing what they do. Powerful and clear vocals ring through the tunes as the horn section gives it a retro feel. Less Than Jake has a big band sound in a ska/punk genre that is fresh and intoxicating. It bears repeating that the live show last night was every bit as thrilling as the first show I saw many moons ago. But you do not have to take my word for it, they will be on tour through April this year, buy a ticket, and see for yourself!