Interview: Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake

Hey, Vinnie. It’s nice to have you here again for round two of the “Brandon vs. Vinnie Interview Series”. What’s been happening since the last time we sat down?

Well, we are in the studio recording our new record in North Hollywood. It’s been 18 days so far. Howard Benson is producing it. He did our Hello Rockview record, but also POD, My Chemical Romance, Motorhead, Papa Roach, Rooney, and The All-American Rejects. It’s going fast. We are almost done.

What stage of the process are you guys at right now?

The way we are recording is really crazy at the moment. In one room, guitars are being done. In another, vocals are. Then in another studio the horns are being tracked. So, we are working on a few songs at any given day. Out of the 16 songs that we are recording, about 12 have been completed.

Awesome. It’s safe to say there’s alot of hype surrounding the record, so tell us, what can we expect musically this time around?

Here’s the deal, we set out to write a record that has its roots in who we are, but also stretch out musically a bit too, especially in a bigger production, catchiness and vocal harmony. When we were writing, we wanted to make a record that we love, so we just kept on changing parts. Adding and taking away until we were happy with it.

There’s truth in the fact that alot of listeners are hoping for a return to your roots on this one, so in a way, that’s what they can expect?

This won’t be a throwback record. It isn’t like anything we’ve done before. There’s slow, Specials influenced ska, very minor chord ska, over the top, catchy pop-punk, some Foo Fighters influences too. Doing the same record twice would short change the people who like the band. You know, things can’t feel redone. You have to try to keep pushing the genre and the band style forward.

Sounds good. What made you want to enlist the skills of Howard Benson behind the board again?

Why did we choose Howard? It’s easy. He’s a great producer with harmony and arrangement. The actual sounds he gets sonically are fucking tremendous too.

You’ve announced that the new record will be called In With the Out Crowd. Where did that title come from, and what’s the meaning behind it?

The title came from an original song title of a song we didn’t use the lyrics for. The meaning is easy. In the world of one hit wonders, fashion statements, over substance and genre hopping fans of modern music, I’ve been finding that people that actually listen to music anymore are a minority these days.

Very nice. Where are you drawing your influences and motivation from lyrically this time around? Your lyrics have always been undoubtedly impressive, so i’m interested in where your subject matter is coming from.

The same as usual. The real life of myself, my family, and my friends. The original title of the record was going to be “precise dismantling of friends and family”, but it seemed to dark. But, lyrically, you can get an idea of the lyrical content just from that title.

Interesting. From the clip you’ve posted on the bands studio website, it’s easily noticable that the horns are playing a much more prominent role on this record. Is there a particular reason why the horn section was “lost in the mix”, so to say, on the past couples releases?

On “Anthem”, the mix buried the horns, and that was a complete bum out. This time, the horns aren’t on everything, as always, but we are going to make sure that it’s a wall of horns when they are playing this time around.

In the new year, you’ll be sharing the stage with Big D and the Kids Table on select dates. As Less Than Jake alone holds the power to breathe new life to the fading ska scene, one of our readers would like to know if there’s a chance that you will be hitting the road with more ska bands in the future?

I wanted Big D to be on all of the dates, but there was a lag in communication. We have talked about doing an all ska tour, but this time around the bands we wanted weren’t available.

So, is an all ska tour something fans might be able to look forward to later on?

Yes, for sure.

Another one of our readers would like to know how you manage to stay fresh and prolific this far into your career? How do you keep from doing the same thing over and over again, and yet not alienate your fans?

Like I said earlier, we have to keep moving foward. You can’t do the same record over and over again. First, as always, we write the songs we love. That’s the most important thing, you know. The five of us have to love them, and we can only hope everyone else can listen to them and love them too.

Right on. On the topic of In With the Out Crowd again, and with you being the man behind the pen, how does this album rank up lyrically with the bands past releases?

On this record, I really listened to the other guys in the band about keeping things new and interesting on every song, so this album has been more of a group effort than ever before. The lyrics are sick, and they are totally something I am proud of.

You’ve been locked up in the studio for a couple weeks now creating the next addition to the bands massive discography. Is there ever a moment in this lifestyle when you wish you could be anywhere else and not have to direct your full focus towards the process?

The only time when I wish I was doing anything different is when the chemistry of the five guys in the band gets interupted by outside influences, like labels, friends, managers, producers, etc. But, I’m happy when I’m in the studio, even though the microscope of recording gets to me at times. At this second, there is no other place I would rather be.

Awesome. Now, moving away from album discussion, let’s talk about your live show. The energy that Less Than Jake consistently packs in on stage is astounding. How, after so many years, do the five of you manage to keep each show fresh and exciting?

Well, whatever happens, naturally happens. I’m in a band with four of my best friends, and the chemistry we have just makes the energy natural. When you see the world do what you love to do with your bestfriends, there’s really not much to complain about, you know?

Yeah man, totally. On the topic of concerts, how do you feel about ticket scalping? One of our readers is interested in finding out your opinion on the subject. He made a good point in saying alot of fans aren’t able to get tickets due to them going to waste with scalpers.

It’s a sad day when tickets are being bought and then having someone charge twice the amount. I don’t agree at all with someone making a business out of overcharging tickets.

Agreed. On a more positive note, where is your favourite place to play besides Gainesville? Assuming your hometown is your favourite city to play?

Ah, that’s a hard question. I will say Chicago, New York City, Gainesville, London, and Tokyo. Haha. That’s a random set of cities, but I love those places.

Whoa whoa, Vinnie. What’s that? No love for us Canadians up North?

Haha, I told you there’s a ton of cities. I just went with my top five.

Fair enough. I suppose I’ll forgive you. Back to the new record. Are there any unexpected surprises in store that just might blow us fans away come release time?

That’s so hard to say. I haven’t really heard it all myself. Hahaha. We were recording so many things at once. It was crazy. I can tell you that the new songs are the best we’ve done. I know all fucking bands say that, but at points we were trying to makes this set of songs amazing from the first note to the last. When I hear the rough mixes this week, I will let you know if it will be a gold medal or scarlet letter. Haha.

Haha, deal. But, I propose a title change. How about calling the new record “From First to Last”?

How about not. Haha.

Fine. I guess In With the Out Crowd is good enough. Haha. Alright, next up, from what you’ve heard so far, or just from having written them, which song do you think will be your favourite of the new tracks and why?

”P.S. Shock the World,” “A Still Life Franchise,” “Don’t Fall Asleep on the Subway,” and “In-dependance Day.” Those four are tied. I love all of them equally. The lyrics, the melody, and how it sounds like Less Than Jake, but with cool twists and turns in style.

Very nice. Even though you’re declaring that the album is unlike anything you’ve done before, which of your past releases would you compare it to if you absolutely had to?

A mix of Hello Rockview, Borders and Boundaries and Anthem.

Interesting. I’ve been meaning to ask someone in your position this next question. With all the changes in ska music, do you feel the genre has lost its roots? Do you feel, at all, that the music has strayed too far from its original ground?

Well, it depends. Most modern music people call ska is just a hybrid of the original ska sound, but with modern music added like punk, hardcore, or jazz. There’s plenty of bands that still make original and authentic ska, and I’m sure they would be offended if someone called Less Than Jake a ska band. We are part of the hybrid bands.

Well, on the subject, which bands out there today make you the most proud to call yourself a ska fan? Which bands, in your opinion, are doing the best job of keeping the scene alive?

The Aggrolites, The Dead 60’s, The Toasters, Hepcat, Rx Bandits and Venice Shoreline Chris.

Nice choices. I’d have to agree. Okay, speaking of other bands, i’m going to hand the power over to you for a minute (as if it wasn’t yours all along, haha). If you had to set up your dream tour of bands you’d love to play alongside every night, who would it be comprised of?

Rancid, NOFX, Billy Bragg, and Elvis Costello. That’s simple. Oh yeah, and add the Descendents and Iron Maiden in for good measure.

Have you ever thought of organizing tours, because that would make for one hell of a show!

Haha, I don’t need anymore work.

Haha, that’s understandable. Alright, I have another user submitted question for you. A reader would like to know why a handful of the songs on B Is For B-Sides didn’t the make the cut onto Anthem, as he felt they were equally as strong if not stronger. How did you go about determing which songs would make the cut?

When we were recording, we decided that we wanted a varied record, so some of the songs that had a similar feel we decided not to record for Anthem, but to save for the B-Sides CD.

So, from the beginning there was always a plan to make a b-sides record?

The plan was to release three E.P.’s on three independent labels, but Warner Brothers pulled that plan out from us and gave us the option to put out a cd on Warner of the songs, or the songs never see the light of day. We wanted the songs to be heard.

Interesting. Okay, one last question for you. Why is it that you chose to release “She’s Gonna Break Soon” as your single, but you don’t seem to include it in your setlist at a large majority of live shows? Was it under the bands control to make that the single, or did you not have much of a choice?

We had written “She’s Gonna Break Soon” in our wharehouse where we practice, and we thought it was a decent song. Nothing special really, but it was written naturally like the other 28 from that time. I stand by any song from Anthem including that one. Do I think it was the right choice? No. Is the song my favorite song? No. But, I like the lyrics and like I said it was one of 28 we wrote at the time without any plans of doing anything except recording for Anthem or the B-Side E.P.’s.

Makes sense. Alright, man, that’s all i’ve got for you tonight. Do you have any last words you’d like to throw out there?

Thanks to everyone that makes being in the band worth every second I spend doing it.

Awesome. Thanks alot for your time.


This article was originally published on