Pouzza Fest Interview: Chris of Less Than Jake fest, Montreal scene, touring and future recording plans

If you ever needed a reason to visit Montreal, I have two words for you: Pouzza Fest. This festival completed its second year in May, with three days of over a hundred bands playing multiple venues. Taking place in Montreal’s downtown core, amongst the student protests that have marked Montreal in recent months, bands came from all over to hang out and play to packed venues.

Though Less Than Jake didn’t get to see the whole festival (they flew in from Bamboozle, then off to another show the next day), Chris did take a few minutes to answer some burning questions about weather, what to do in Montreal, and punk kids.

Check out the interview right here.

We heard you guys were coming in from Bamboozle yesterday, then coming in today and leaving tomorrow, so you guys are on a pretty tight schedule.

Chris: Yeah, we flew in this morning and walked around. Couldn’t believe how fucking hot it was! I thought I was back in Florida! I was like, “Man, I came up to Montreal in mid-May, it’s going to be beautiful!” The cool thing is though, when the sun goes down, the humidity will go away. It’ll get bearable, unlike Florida, where the sun goes down in the summer, but you’re still fucked. You’re slimy. It’s just so humid.

So you guys have been together for about twenty years. How do you not kill each other?

Chris: You look at this arthritis and tell me how long we’ve been together! It’s a healthy dose of sarcasm and one big dick joke. It’s just a bunch of eighth grade kids, where we bitch and we talk shit to each other.  It’s like a group of brothers.

Do you guys hang out when you’re not on tour?

Chris: Yeah, our bass player just got married, so we were all there for that and hung out together. I don’t live in Gainesville anymore, and our sax player lives in Connecticut, so as far as hanging out in the same town, we don ‘t, but we spend a lot of time together.

What attracted you to play Pouzza Fest?

Chris: Well the fact that it’s in Montreal, and we knew it would go off. We heard about it before,  that it’s been a successful festival. I said this in an interview earlier, but Montreal, with all due respect, is one of the last dirty punk rock towns. You’ll see the kids walking up, and they don’t look like fashion-mall punks, it’s a cool scene still, and it’s been this way since we’ve been coming here. For fifteen years, and the first time we ever played was at Metropolis, and it’s always been great.

Did you guys hear about the stuff happening last night? You missed the craziness! (Ed. note: The Montreal student protests hit its 100-day mark the previous night, and there were clashes with protesters and police).

Chris: Yeah, I hear there was a car on fire. I wore my running shoes though. I’m 38 years old, I can run so fast, there’s not a kid here who can run faster than me.

Were you deterred at all from coming to Montreal with the recent protests?

Chris: Not at all. Absolutely not. Are you kidding? “Sorry, we couldn’t make it, there were riots up there and our singer had a slight sore throat.” My wife, of course, heard it all last night and this morning, people were talking about it because they knew we were coming here. We actually talked to Hot Water music, who were here, about it. I mean, a handful of assholes, and the news picks up on it, just like anything else. I really haven’t thought about it. Maybe it’s ignorance on my part, but I don’t feel threatened. It’s Canada, for fuck’s sake. If you feel threatened here, move to Mexico.  I exaggerate there too. There’s some border control issues and some drug issues, but if you go down to the beach there on a vacation, your head’s not going to wind up in a box. They don’t care about us. We aren’t important enough to die down there.

That’s an interesting perspective. When touring, do you care about travel warnings?

Chris: You end up in Mexico, knocking on some stranger’s door at four in the morning, saying “Sorry, I don’t speak much Spanish, I’m in trouble, help me,” human beings take over. I went to Europe a month after 9/11 happened, and I didn’t feel afraid. If I’m going to die travelling to Italy after a fucking terrorist attack, then that’s the way it was supposed to be.

So you said that you guys like to come to Montreal. What do you like to see when you’re here?

Chris: Old town Montreal is awesome, and there’s a couple restaurants that we like to go around to. Just the vibe, too. This area has cleaned up since the mid-90’s, there’s not as much riffraff on the streets, but really, the vibe of it is the same. The government hasn’t come in and changed the face of it to make everyone homogenized. It’s not sterile at all.

So what’s in the future for Less Than Jake? Are you guys touring a lot?

Chris: I’m only thinking about six hours in the future. I just don’t want to pull a hamstring or a groin muscle tonight. We’re going to be touring till the end of the year, that’ll take us up to about the end of November, and at some point we’re going to try to get everyone together to write some new songs, and try to stay out of trouble.

You’re playing to a lot of people tonight, this is a sold out show. The show last night with the Lawrence Arms and Lagwagon was packed. People were lining up here at five. (Ed. note: The line actually went around the corner at five. The doors for the show were to open at seven.)

Chris: When I was at the door earlier, waiting to get in, there were these guys, I think they were French, but you know it’s the third day of the festival, because people just look wiped. This guy was like, “Oh man, I’ve had the shits all morning.” I’m like, “Okay, we’re going to see how good this show is!” People might be a little fucking tired tonight, but I think they’ll pep up after a few drinks.

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