Less Than Jake have announced that they will be doing the whole Warped Tour next summer. According to the band’s drummer Vinnie, playing Warped Tour is a smart thing for bands to do. It’s a unique opportunity to play in front of thousands of punk-rock fans every day. The band will be on the road until Warped Tour starts. They recently stopped in Montreal for a sold-out show. This is what their drummer Vinnine and I talked about.
The Concordian: You are releasing a new record on May 16 In With The Out Crowd. Do you guys still get nervous or anxious before the release?
Vinnie: Absolutely! There is no doubt about that. For me, right now, it’s so weird. I’ll be honest with you, the anxiety is at two points; anxiety’s at when you’re just about to record it, when you’re in the studio for the first time, that’s when I get super anxious because you are second-guessing everything. And it’s right before someone listens to the whole thing. A new record is either a gold medal or a scarlet letter: You have to wear both and wear both with pride. But people look at it saying, “this is your achievement,” or, “this is a curse.” Because music is so subjective, what you feel great about is not what someone else might feel great about.
The Concordian: You will be releasing an EP before you release your next record, which is kind of a teaser for fan. Why do you guys want to do that?
Vinnie: [The EP] includes two songs that are going to be on the record and two songs that won’t be on the record. We’ve been doing so much touring and will be doing so much touring that when we get to Europe, the EP’s going to come out and the single’s going to be coming out anyway so why not do a single in the United States at the same time? Honestly, May’s a long time and the record’s done and been done since before Christmas, so I want people to hear some songs off of it. Frankly, I want people to hear other songs we wrote for it. I like to put out releases; it’s exciting when it happens. I really like the design aspect of it.
The Concordian: You guys decided to work with Howard Benson again. Is it important for you guys to have the same vision as the producer?
Vinnie: We definitely don’t have the same vision as Howard. In anything that you do you have to have a captain of the ship and the producer is the captain of the ship. Do me and Howard or anyone else in the band and Howard individually or collectively have the same vision? Absolutely not. That’s what being in the studio is all about. All a producer is, is collectively guiding the project so it gets done in time and acting as a sixth member of the band to put outside input in something that you are so close to.
The Concordian: You were talking about the artwork of the album. You asked your fans to send in embarrassing photos of themselves for the album booklet. Who thought of that idea and why?
Vinnie: I came up with the idea. I’ll use some of them, but what the original idea was comparatively to what someone had to do to actually get the picture in and used because of how a major label does work, a good idea turned bad because of all the fucking red tape you have to deal with. Some of those pictures were so off the original intent, some were so posed and weird that it’s not authentic. To get it in you had to fax this stuff back; it took a good idea literally and made it a bad idea, so we’re going with some of it.
The Concordian: Like you said, you’ve been around for a decade now, what’s the key to longevity?
Vinnie: It really has nothing to do with the music end of it, it has to do with the communication inside. The people in this band are my best friends, they are my brothers, they are closer than family and you have to be able to talk because if you don’t talk then people start to bottle things up and there’s a boiling point to anything. You only can shove so much s**t into one container before it explodes. You have to talk about it and if you don’t it’s the beginning of the end. It’s same thing being in a band, being in a relationship, at a job; you have to have an open line of communication.
The Concordian: Do you think that ska-punk is healthy right now?
Vinnie: It’s hard to say. When I first found punk-rock and what it meant then and what it stood for then is not what it stands for now. It’s a loaded question. The bands that are “punk-rock” sell more records, have a bigger profile but what does it really mean? Does it even mean anything other than fun, catchy music? Before, it had meant stepping outside the box of what the norm and popular culture was and I enjoyed that anti-establishment vibe to it. But now I really don’t think that’s there anymore, at least for the majority of it. What does punk rock mean? Not a hell of a lot. But is it healthy? It sells a lot more records in connection to making a living out of it. Yah you could call it healthy.
The Concordian: You have a lot of side projects. Do you think that those side projects help or harm the band?
Vinnie: With Fueled By Ramen, the bigger it gets, there’s a mirror that goes back to, it makes people that may have strayed off the course or might not have known or remembered, it mirrors it back. I believe that it’s healthy to do something outside the band if it’s a positive thing. If Fueled By Ramen was putting out white power records it wouldn’t be helping out Less Than Jake. If things didn’t work out and there was a weird vibe to the project, then it hurts the band. But I don’t think it hurts the band if it’s something logical and rad. It just helps it; it mirrors it. Frankly it gives the band a multi-dimension to it. When you talk about Bad Religion and Graffin, he has a doctorate and it gives a whole different relation to the band.