Less Than Jake was recently in town on the Vans Warped Tour, and I had the opportunity to talk with front man Chris Demakes. Less Than Jake is a Punk-Ska band from Gainesville, Florida originally formed in 1992. The band will be on the entire Vans Warped Tour so be sure to get out and see them when they are in your town. Our talk went like this.
Josh:Let’s start with your name and what you do in the band.
Chris:My name is Chris Damakes and I play guitar, and sing, and do backing vocals, and tell jokes.
Josh:You guys are kind of veterans of this scene, so you guys have seen a lot of kids grow up and a lot of kids fail. Normally I ask this question towards the end but I normally don’t get to ask anyone that has been in the scene as long as you guys. What would you say is the biggest piece of advice you could give to kids that are trying to make it?
Chris: You are just another band in the grand scheme of things. The only people that are really really going to care about you are professional people around you that if you make them a bunch of money they are going to kiss your ass but don’t really like you. The people that are going to make you stars are your fans, and those people go away too sometimes. I’ve been out here and seen bands crash and burn after a year or two. So I would say never take any of it for granted, and just work hard. Try to work harder than the next band.
Josh:You guys released a new EP and DVD anthology set. What kind of response are you guys getting from them?
Chris: You know its been good. We haven’t gone to stores with it; we cut out all distribution channels like that because there is really no reason for it. Not many people shop in stores anymore. We have been bringing them out here on tour. People that like our band will love it, and people that don’t like our band probably won’t care for it.
Josh:What kind of crowds have you guys been pulling this year? You’ve done the tour several times.
Chris: We attract a crowd of hardcore fans, the morbidly curious, and other people who are just walking by but we catch their attention with some bad joke. The morbidly curious people that I mentioned are people that are told “You have to see this band they have been on Warped Tour forever.” And some will come over and watch and be into it, and others will see 2 songs and then they will just walk off. There is definitely still interest out here.
Josh: What would you say is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you guys on Warped Tour?
Chris: Just being able to be invited to certain things. Like in 2004 we were invited to the Warped Tour 10 year reunion. Then we played the 15 year in 2009. So we have been there for some milestones. We are one of those bands that were included and for lack of a better term grandfathered in.
Josh:Being on the road as much as you guys are, do you find it harder to write music while on the road? Or have you kind of gotten use to it?
Chris:We tend not to write on the road. Typically we all write at home, it’s not that it is hard to write on the road it is just that there so much stuff going on like press and signings and all that. There are bands that do it, and we all individually write on the road but as a band we don’t really do it.
Josh: So do you guys live close enough to each other at home to get together and jam out to write, or do you kind of write then mail it to each other?
Chris:Um, I would say it is more of the latter. And we all live really close, like we are all 5 minutes from each other. But it is just easier for us to do it that way, get the ideas together then finally get a rehearsal space and we already have things kind of have things mapped out versus getting there and starting from scratch.
Josh:What would you say are some of your biggest influences in music specifically?
Chris:Well I can’t speak for the whole band, I can speak for myself. My musical taste, as well as the other guys in the band, runs all over the map. I listen to pretty much everything. As far as what the band was influenced by early on was a healthy dose of Operation Ivy, Descendents, Bad Religion and other bands of that nature.
Josh:When you guys set out on the road for tour, is fan following the major focus when picking cities to play?
Chris:Yeah kind of. A lot of it is, not even just for us, bands know what cities attract. Back in the day it was like the Wild West and we would play anywhere. But now that we have been doing this for a while, you are going to play Cleveland you aren’t going to play Akron, Ohio. Or at least you’re probably not; you are going to go where you can get more people to see you play.
Josh: What are the plans for after Warped Tour?
Chris:Um really just keep writing more songs. We are constantly trying to write, and we all have our individual stuff we are working on too. The band doesn’t have any plans to tour after Warped, but hopefully we will be recording soon.
Josh:Awesome. Are we thinking another EP or a full length?
Chris:We don’t know honestly. The idea of putting a whole record out use to be like about the sequencing so that people listen to it, but that listening experience is kind of gone now.
Josh: Yeah it’s kind of about the singles anymore.
Chris:Exactly it is. And you know we have never been a singles band. So we always want to do albums. But I don’t know if we ever had a complete idea to warrant full album 10,11,12,13,14 songs we totally would but as of right now we really just don’t know.
Josh: If you had to pick like 2 or 3 bands that you think kids need to keep their eye on or getting out there to check out who would they be?
Chris: I like a band called The Swellers. There is a band on Warped Tour called The Blacklist Royals. Probably those 2 bands for sure.
Josh:Anything you wanna say to the fans, or any jokes you got?
Chris: This one is for the ladies. Make sure that you wipe from front to back, otherwise you get a nasty infection. NEVER back to front.
Josh: Thanks for your time Chris.
Chris: Thank you.