Less Than Jake have just released “See The Light”, their first full-length in five years, and I was lucky enough to sit down with drummer and Paper + Plastick founder Vinnie Fiorello. We discuss the running of his own label, the upcoming Less Than Jake “TV HD EP”, favorite Fat Wreck releases and the difficulties of finding the right horn player.
You can check out the full interview below.
What would you say has changed in your sound to someone who is most familiar with Pezcore and Losing Streak?
Vinnie: Well it went from spending twelve hours and $200 dollars recording Pezcore versus $7,000 and three and a half weeks on “See The Light”. I think that over 21 years we become better players, a little bit more meticulous about how things sound and how we perform on it.
I feel that ska has traditionally younger fans than maybe punk in general has. Do you have two generations of fans now (with older people like me bringing their kids to shows)…or is it more like Matthew McConnaughey in “Dazed and Confused,” where you keep getting older and the fans keep staying the same age?
No, I think that a lot of our fans have grown up with us. Come to a Less Than Jake show and its anywhere from 16 to 35 now, so it is a pretty massive age start and end. I think there are parents now who are bringing their kids to shows, it’s pretty wild.
Up until Pete joined to play sax in 2000, you guys had a bunch of different sax players. Was there ever a point that you thought about throwing in the towel, or were you just waiting for the missing piece?
Or the missing Pete for the band. I think that when it comes to horns, playing horn in a punk rock setting has to sound in tune. There were a lot of issues with previous horn players not always being in tune, and it was sort of a drag. And at a certain point, after we found people who were in tune and time, then they wanted to move on and sort of wanted to get on with their adult life. One wanted to become a fireman, and the other one wanted to start a Knapsack cover band, and he went off to do that. But, I think that with anything you have to have a good chemical balance in the band, and you have to sort of keep on going and keep on going. It is the same thing as a relationship. You know when there is that sort of bond and energy. It’s weird, but you keep on going and keep on moving forward.
If you could add any Fat band to this tour, who would it be?
It’s a simple thing.
Has it been challenging owning and operating Paper + Plastick whilst being a part of a touring band?
Of course. It is not only with a touring band. It is everything. With Paper + Plastick you have Less Than Jake, but the creative side. Then you have the business side of Less Than Jake, which I do a lot of as well. It goes back to a balance. You have to put your time into everything. Sometimes it’s a bit tougher, and other times it’s a fair breeze. Before I left on this tour, the Red City Radio record was coming out, the Less Than Jake record is coming out, we’re preparing for a tour, we’re preparing for a world wide release of our record as well. It has been a bit of a lead up until now. The last maybe two months have been really hectic. Now not so much. Now with Paper + Plastick we have maybe one more thing that we’re going to do this year. And Less Than Jake, we should just be on tour.
What made you decide to leave Fueled by Ramen, and start P+P?
Here’s the thing. Fueled By Ramen was a business. It was a music business in the purest sense. It got to a point where I didn’t have a passion for it anymore. If you don’t have passion for something, there is no reason to stay around and try to force that sort of idea behind it. It is not like I walked away with nothing. I walked away and it was bought out by Atlantic, and it’s okay by me. I didn’t have passion for the bands, I didn’t have passion for the projects we were doing. Instead of trying to force myself into that picture, I just left. I never had a plan on starting Paper+ Plastick, but I missed putting out records and I wanted to do something that was creative and was a good outlet outside of Less Than Jake. And I wanted to give back to younger bands in a genre that has given me a lot of opportunity, and it is sort of the purest form of that. I’m a music lover and I wanted to help some of the bands that I think are worthy of people’s ears and attention.
That’s awesome. Less Than Jake has become known for their creative merch, from yo yo’s, to anthem firecrackers, and pezcore water guns. Who designs it?
I do a lot of it. And sometimes it’s a collective thing. With the merch we had decided early on that it was something we were always nerds for. A lot of us are collectors to begin with, so we always wanted to have this interesting merch and these interesting records. It has become now, over this many years, part of who the band has become, which is cool.
Most definitely. You have talked about releasing another album of TV jingles titled “TV HD EP”. Is there a tentative release date for that?
The spring. Once this record comes out, we will figure it out. Right now on our merch table there is this University of Florida fight song flexidisc that we did, which is like the Gators’ football team fight song. We recorded that during sessions for “See The Light”. That’s on the table, but we haven’t said anything about it even though it is out because our new record is coming out, so you don’t want to talk about it. But once the record comes out we have a few other projects that are fun and kind of weird.
What is your favorite Fat Wreck release of all time?
Propogandhi “How To Clean Everything”. Hands down, it’s one of the first records from the label that I listened to that I was like “Yeah, I love this”. That record made me become a sort of Fat Wreck Chords addict. First time and first listen, I was hooked on it, and still to this day. Even with the re-release I went back and it came out, and I listened to it, it’s an untouchable album. I love it.
Thanks to vinnie for taking the time to do this interview with us. Click here to see if Less Than Jake and the rest of the bands on the Fat Tour are coming near you anytime soon and make sure to pick up a copy of their new album “See The Light” from Fat Wreck Chords!
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