Google+

Scott Bufis Chats with Chris of Less Than Jake

In March, during the Harvest of Hope Festival at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds, I got the chance to talk with Chris Demakes, singer and guitarist for Less Than Jake.We sat down for a few minutes and chatted about the new album, the unpopularity of ska music today, the charity toward migrant farm workers from the Harvest of Hope Festival, and hypothetical fights between classic claymation characters.

Scott Bufis: You’re new album is titled “GNV FLA” (pronounced “Gainesville Florida,” the band’s hometown).Is this album a “going-back to the old school?”

Chris Demakes: Umm… It’s going back to the new school. (Laughs) I don’t know, some people say that.I don’t think… It’s hard for me to talk about our albums in that context.It’s like, you know, I think people think it sounds older just because we made a really fast punk rock record with lots of horns, but all of our albums to me… when I listen to them and I hear them, it’s unmistakable.When you hear Vinnie play drums and when you hear Roger and I sing I think that you know what the band is – whether that’s good or bad.So, to me, I don’t know if it’s going back to old school, but I definitely know it sounds like our band.It’s a good representation of where we’re at right now.

SB: So it’s a kind of “living in the present moment” kind-of-thing.You kind of feel what the energy is at that moment.

Chris: When we go to write a record, I mean, I bring ideas to the table that the guys are like, “Dude, that’s not gonna work on a record.”I mean, I write some songs that are really slow and trippy and just stuff that, uh, I don’t know, fuckin’ Matchbox Twenty might record and people are like “What the fuck?”, you know?But that’s all about being a musician.I don’t like getting pegged into a hole. If people like the new record – great – but some of my favorite songs and favorite stuff that we’ve done have been stuff that the fans go, “I can’t stand that.”And I’m like, “You know what?Then, that’s cool.”But, you have to do what comes from the heart, and the new album is just a natural step for us.

SB: Most bands that started out ska bands or ska-punk bands ditched their “two-tone” roots, but you guys keep it real and keep it alive.Is there a lot of pressure in the music industry to drop the ska aesthetic?

Chris: I wouldn’t say so much “pressure.”I think what people tend to not remember about our band, at least, is that we always – if you go back to our first 7” we ever released, we had songs that didn’t have horns in them and weren’t “ska.”So, we were always a punk band, a pop band. We always had melody, we had, certainly, ska elements, but, you know, for us there was never so much quote-unquote “pressure” to drop the ska sound.It was more of, you know, is this what we want to be doing?When it came to the end of the ‘90’s and early 2000’s you gotta think of the glut of bands that were sounding alike.You know, the six-piece bands with the horn sections that were playing ska-punk.I was probably the one guy in the band that was like, “I don’t want to write that shit anymore because everybody else is writing it.”Well, it was a breath of fresh air on the new record because it was like, all of the bands we ran with back then – there’s only a handful of them around anymore, you know?I actually see kids on MySpace all the time: “Hey, we’re in a ska-punk band now.”They’re like 14 or 15 year-old kids, and I’m like, “Okay.”So everything comes in cycles and comes around, you know?For me, it wasn’t about the major label or anybody telling me that “ska’s not in” or “this or that.”It was more of: I can see not playing upstroke guitar and horns in every song.That was more about what it was.

SB: You guys were once signed to record giant Capitol Records.

Chris: Yup.

SB: Why go off on your own?

Chris: …and Warner Bros.

SB: And Warner Bros.!

Chris: Yes.Let’s not forget.…and Fat Wreck Chords.

SB: The list goes on.

Chris: Fat Mike’s a millionaire, too – you fuckin’ bastards.You know what it is?It got to the point where we’ve been on a ton of labels – major and indies.Our drummer started Fueled By Ramen which became a major label.We’ve run the gamut with that.It got to the point where Warner Bros. was flat-out, “Look, we can’t do anything with you.We’re not going to get you on the radio.We’re not going to put any money into a new record.”And we’re like, “Great.Can we leave?”They were just as ready to get rid of us as we were to get off the label because, for us – I don’t care what band it is – if you’re on a major label, if you’re on any label, you want to sell records.You want to get out there and get your music out to people.For us, we were on a major, and it was like, “Cool.We want to have the money behind us.Push us to radio.Do the whole thing.”And, it wasn’t happening, and it was like, “Okay, great.Can we get out of our contract?”Boom.We were out of it, and there’s no reason to go with another label at this point.People aren’t selling CD’s anymore, okay?Go to a record store.Actually, you can’t find a record store hardly anymore, and if you do, no one’s in it.For us it was just logical to start our own label and to put our own records out.

SB: Who would win in a fight: Gumby or the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Chris: Umm… I would say Gumby just because he would keep tickling the Pillsbury Doughboy’s bellybutton, and he’d get him on the ground and start kicking the shit out of him.

SB: No defense on the Pillsbury Doughboy.He’s got nothing, huh?

Chris: He’s got nothing.Once he starts giggling, he’s done.

SB: Name a few bands that you think deserve some more exposure.

Chris: A band called “The Swellers,” if you’ve heard of those guys or not.

SB: Where are they from?

Chris: The Swellers are from Michigan.They’re a great band in the vein of Propagandhi – really fast punk rock.They’re awesome.I like “A Wilhelm Scream.”Those guys are good friends of mine.They’re fun.What other bands?Umm…A band from Gainesville called “No More.” They’re actually at this festival.Friends of ours.Great band.That’s about it off the top of my head.

SB: And just one more.The festival, Harvest of Hope, it’s about aiding migrant farm workers.What are your thoughts on this kind of charity that this festival’s putting on?

Chris: Well, I mean, you know, money’s tough right now so if people are doing some stuff for charity, then I’m all about it.It’s cool to be able to help people in need in these times.More power to them because most people that put on festivals – it’s a cash grab.There’s no secret about that.We’ve played a number of festivals across this planet.You know, very few – if any of them! – have been a benefit so this is cool.

SB: Cool cool.

www.lessthanjake.com

Entertainment

For movies opening January 20, 2017

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening January 20, 2017 BIG BUDGET FILMS 20th Century Women (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and brief drug use) Tale of female empowerment, set in Santa Barbara during the summer of '79, revolving around the explorations of love and freedom on the part of a landlady (Annette Bening), one of her tenants (Greta Gerwig), … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Concerned Father Creates Children’s Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again

  Concerned Father Creates Children's Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again   Orlando, FL (January 16, 2017) – EOTO Books & Publishing announced today the immediate release of “The Christopher OluFela Series of Books for Kids” written by father and creative children’s picture book author Lee Chavous. The books take a unique approach to inform young readers of a rich African American … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Groundswell for Chazelle!

  Damien Chazelle The “La La Land” Interview with Kam Williams Groundswell for Chazelle! Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories. In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Carolina Skiff at Miami’s Favorite Boat Show

  Carolina Skiff at Miami's Favorite Boat Show By Craig Lamb You might say “new” is a reoccurring theme of Miami’s favorite boat show coming up soon. A new location with hundreds of new boats, including never-before-seen models being debuted by Carolina Skiff, is a great way to kick off the season. Few boat shows offer buyers the chance to see new boats where they ultimately belong—floating on the water in a real time setting. You can … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Can Troy Aikman Win MVP?

  Can Troy Aikman Win MVP? by Amy Lignor   What a strange title for an article, aye? Of course the ‘old man’ of the Dallas Cowboys can’t win MVP. Troy Aikman was an elite QB, with three Super Bowl rings to prove that fact. However, Aikman hasn’t actually suited-up since leaving behind his Cowboys uniform in 2001. The number one overall draft pick in 1989, Aikman was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, and was elected to the Pro Football … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Spotlight on Africa

  Spotlight on Africa by Amy Lignor   As the year winds down and comes to a close, it is Africa that is receiving some headlines that call for many changes and improvements to be made in the coming years. It was Ambassador Amina Mohamed (Nairobi, Kenya) that spoke recently about the African Union Commission (AUC) and how the group must provide leadership in the coming years. After all, the nation of Africa is, in truth, the cradle … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

    The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World by Amy Lignor   Oh, yes…there are many, many places to travel in order to ring in that New Year in style. Some people have already stated that they see 2017 becoming one of the ‘best of the best’ years the world has ever seen – from technology to business to education to even “going greener” – heck, green has even been chosen as the top color of 2017. But where should you … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

2017 Will Be Green!

    2017 Will Be Green! by Amy Lignor   This statement is not a “hopeful” imagination talking; it is actually quite true. Very recently the Pantone Color Institute declared that green will most definitely be THE color for 2017. This is a company that calls themselves the “global color authority,” and states that everything from high fashion to trends will be on the green path throughout next year. So…when we look at a “green” … [Read More its Good for You...]

Trackbacks

  1. […] Last year’s festival was chock-full Gainesville punk bands like Against Me! and Less Than Jake (click here to check out the interview I did with Less Than Jake last year), and, really, appropriately so considering HOH’s connection with Gainesville punk label, No Idea […]