By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Less Than Jake has been around for 16 years—no small feat for any band, let alone one in the particular subgenre of ska-punk. But neither age nor the shifting popularity of genres has stopped the quintet from Gainesville, Florida—a group responsible for such memorable tracks as "Happy Days" and "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts"—from keeping on.
While many of the band's 1990s peers have fizzled out, a good sense of humor and a pure love of what they do have kept the members of Less Than Jake going strong. This all gets proved yet again in the band's latest release, GNV FLA, and its current stake in the Warped Tour lineup. We caught up with Less Than Jake saxophonist Peter "JR" Wasilewski to discuss the latest developments with the band.
First, let's talk about your band's own new label, Sleep It Off Records. It marks Less Than Jake's departure from Warner Bros. Why did you guys feel that was an important move?
You know, what happened there is what happened at [previous label] Capitol. When we started there, there was a whole bunch of people we knew, and then two records later, three-quarters of the staff is all new. And after speaking to our A&R guy and the people there, we decided that our best move would be to leave the label and start our own and do it for ourselves.
On a personal level, none of us are upset about how we were handled at Warner Bros. I think we're all pleased with how things went; you know, it was just time. It was time to take the reins in our own hands and move forward as a band.
I understand part of the decision to go indie was motivated by the desire to re-release your old catalog and that each re-release is going to feature unreleased DVD material.
Yeah, I guess about two years ago, we recorded all of our current records—sans the new GNV FLA record—live to make DVDs. And we wanted to re-release all of it on our own. We've already re-released Pezcore, and we're hoping to get the rest out soon. I think it's kind of a cool thing: You get the record, and you get the live DVD to go with it.
How did the new independent spirit affect the recording process for GNV FLA?
It's the first record that we've done as a band probably since Pezcore that we had complete control over. It was just the five of us in our warehouse. We wrote the songs...And we're really proud of the record. It's our first true independent statement in 14 years, so we wanted it to be kind of cool, and we wanted to pay homage to our hometown, and hopefully we did it.