Interview: Roger – Less Than Jake

Roger from LESS THAN JAKE @ Slam Dunk Festival Wolverhampton.

*BURP* (A remarkably high pitched..) HELLO, Is this working?.. (Into our audio recorder aka mobile phone..)

There is a picture of a microphone on your phone it’s pretty cool. Very professional. I didn’t know you guys were audio engineers as well as interviewers!

So is this going to be recorded or like transcribed? (Transcribed)

How are you gong to get my sarcasm in the lines? How are you going to get my swurvy acting voice between those lines?!

(..We explain the questions and how it’s gonna go..)

Oh SHIT man, I am not prepared for a ‘SPEED ROUND!’ I have not drunk enough coffee for that! I was going the other way to be honest with you.. (slaps his self in face!)

All right!!

How has Slam Dunk festival been for you?

It’s been awesome. I honestly don’t remember the last time we played it two years ago, to be honest man, I think I partied more back then, a little too much, but it’s been great. The catering has been the only mediocre aspect, and my poop can attest to that, other than that though! I’m not complaining! Dessert was good, but you know.. But yeh the shows have been great, the crowd last night was insane. Tonight the venue is awesome, so you know.. Just great man. A lot of the bands out here we’ve played with before, it’s a crazy thing bumping into friends over here, it’s like a three day party.

Less Than Jake aren’t legends without reason, they have seemingly been on endless tours since the late 90s!

Well we just did the Reel Big Fish tour and then this was in the works as well, and we have long tours coming up, but nothing over here- that’s why we were like ‘hell yeah we’ll go to Slam Dunk’.

(We caught you at the RBF tour) Awesome! Yeh it was pretty amazing and inspiring, it was sold out, pretty much the entire tour- sold out- it felt great, shows are great, people had a lot of fun, we love The Fish, all good things

How on earth does one go about selecting an hour long setlist from 8/9 albums I hear you cry..

There’s not really a science to it, but we do kinda like try and plan out some of that stuff- it’s weird. It’s kinda like you have to play some of your shittier songs, because like some of those songs, they’re like ‘fan favourites’, it may not be a song that we had a video for or anything like that, or has a lot of views on Youtube, but we have to play that one song, it’s kind of a weird thing to do the set list, because there are so many songs, from so many years. Sometimes we’ll be like- ‘hey, we don’t have any songs from this particular album on here’ or something, like we forgot a whole album- it’s hard to do. Sooo for the Slam Dunk, we just tried to play ALL the good songs! Because sometimes we’ll be like nah- lets play this obscure song, it’ll be fun to play and we’re excited about it, who cares, right. But we have to play ‘Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sell Outs’- we have to play that. (Fans of the Grease cover tracks over here..) Yeh! Like with that it’s like a weird obscure thing- like if we played that, it’d be fun for me, and it would be fun for you but there’d be like five-hundred people there that would be like ‘what the hell is this song?!’ haha.. So we have to kind of be selective and patient with the whole thing. It’s fun you know, I think it’s going to be fantastic, like the reception of the songs right now is fantastic, and yeh we have our new record, so we’re trying to get some new songs in there that a lot of people you know, may or may not have heard. So it’s taking a chance with either of those songs. The new songs are good though! (POINTS!) See it’s so good, that I pointed! See you’re not going to get that in the audio or the typing ha! It’s really good though..point!

LTJ are back with Fat Records for their latest album, we asked Roger how this came about and how it feels to be back with Mike and Fat Wreck Records..

HEY MAN! (Looking at his stomach..) I’ve been losing weight, I’m getting on.. Oh wait you mean the record label! My bad.Yeh man.. we are back on Fat Wreck Records, it’s pretty awesome, it came about pretty easily, like organically. They’ve done some re-releases of our older albums, so we did that and we’d done some EP’s like on our own, and Mike saw that, and was like ‘wow these are great songs, this should be a record’ you know, and it was really, like more than ours, it was his idea to make ‘Greetings and Salutations’ so that was something we recorded on our own, but we put it together and made an LP and added a couple extra songs to it and that came out on Fat. And after that it was kinda just like understood that the next Less Than Jake record was gonna come out on Fat. Because they’re into it. And we’re like- ‘well cool, we wanna do it’. It’s kind of awesome like, they didn’t listen to any demo’s or, like, they never heard it until it was done.. I think Mike trusts us and you know, I was the producer on the record, so I figure he kind of trusts me, that I’m not goin’ to go mad with it or whatever. We know what we’re gonna do. And you know, he get’s it, there’s some great songs on there, he loves the record and it was a great experience. It’s been awesome.

It all sounds like what everyone wishes the “Music Business” would be like- Music not Business. About Music and not Money..

Yeh you know, fortunately we’re at a point in our career here, we’ve been around for ever, and we’ve done the major label thing and have taken what we’ve learnt, and push forward on our own to some degree. Like, we don’t really have a manager, I mean we have a tour manager who takes care of a lot of stuff, who’s our manager by all intents and purposes, but.. you know, we don’t have someone sat in LA in an office making phone calls, you know what I mean? It’s a little different than the old days. But it’s been great. Can’t complain.

Being Punk Icons must have it’s pressures, do you still get pre-stage jitters?

Erm, nerves? Nah honestly, I’m not that kind of guy. I’ve been on stage a lot. Even as a little kid I was on stage a lot, I took piano lessons, did like piano recitals and I sang in church, and you know like..I was in a band in high school. As like nervous energy- no, I’m not scared to go our there at all. I wanna get out there, it’s like a boxer- he’s not scared to get into the ring. I can’t wait. There’s an adrenaline rush that you get, and you get excited.

The stage often looks small and crowded for all you guys- do you have a stage plan to avoid clashes?

We’ve never had a discussions that’s like lets all do this. Our show is a natural thing, we don’t plan stuff out, we all do what we feel, I do kinda have a radar, like at some point buddy (Trombone player) is going to come flying across the stage in this one song or something like that. Kinda like playing dodge-ball but with instruments!

Any injuries?

Yeh, well I have ran into Buddy before with my bass and cut him the eye, and on like smaller shows a fan will get thrown up onto the stage or be crowd surfing and bump into stuff and knock things over, or you like cut your lip on the mic, but you just go with the flow.

Is being in a successful band the glamorous adventure we all dream of?

Yeh, I mean, the ‘glamour’ part, I think erm, I don’t really know what the glamour part is. My lifestyle doesn’t seem that glamorous. It’s very normal, very down to earth. You know, just hanging out and having a good time. And erm, you know- I drive a 96′ Jeep truck. Like, it’s not very glamorous. Maybe it is something that like has faded because we’ve been around so long. But I just kinda live in the moment. It’s a great time to be in this band. We have a good time together, we get along, we still have great fans, and we like our songs! We’re just sort of lucky.

!!SPEED ROUND!!

What right, so I have to like talk fast? Wait hold on.. (braces himself)

What would you like to be remembered for?

Great songs, and erm, as I expand the whole ‘studio thing’: producing great records. Which I have been doing and hope I keep doing.

Dream dinner guest?

How about the entire band of Iron Maiden all at one meal. Where we’d just eat ribs and like raw potatoes, no like vegetables, no fruits, just having a medieval style dinner with Iron Maiden.

Daily mirror time?

Erm, like not much- I mean how long does it take to brush your teeth? Like two minutes?! So like six minutes a day- that’s it. I have dreadlocks- I don’t care what I look like! They’re just so easy. Easy-peasy.

Always an easy one- favourite swear word?

Fuck

Best reason for a break up?

(Thinks hard for 30 seconds..) Eeeerrrmm… Oh! ‘You’re too hairy down there’. Ha haha! Genuinely.

Best day of your life?

Today. I live in the moment, I forget real quick. You gotta move forward, you gotta enjoy these moments as they go by. I liked getting married- I liked it when my kid was born- today is pretty rad though. And those things are still with me.

Religious?

Spiritualist. I think this stuff all means something..I don’t know what the hell it means. I’m not going to try and define it. It’s just a good trip, try and enjoy it. Put some positivity out there, and help everyone enjoy it. It’s like Buddhism man- it just makes sense…well to me.

Worst thing you’ve put in your mouth?

Worst THING? Hmm.. What was his name.. haha. Erm. We were on tour in Japan and eating exotic foods, and it’s raw Sea Urchin, it was a delicacy. Taste like the bottom of a sand pail.

Last Band you paid to see live?

A couple weeks ago actually, I went to a festival, in Florida- to see one of my all time favourite bands The Cult. They’re an English band. They’re awesome, I love ‘em. They were great, there were other bands playing like Avenged Sevenfold and A Day To Remember and I went to see The Cult. FYI.

When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ll be honest, by the time I was eight years old I was sitting on my Uncles lap playing drums at his band practise. I was always very encouraged in music. I took piano lessons and all that.. I’ve always wanted to be involved in music. I went to college for like math and science and chemistry and that sorta thing, but eventually I found other musicians, and you know, Less Than Jake became my life. MUSIC! Music music music!

What would you say if you met the Queen?

What would I say? Oh. I’d probably say something really inappropriate, like I would try to be polite, but I would blow it..

Weirdest moment of your life?

WEIRDEST? Ermm.. Telling my Mom that I was going to drop out of college to go on tour. (How did that go?) It didn’t go very well. We weren’t really speaking there for nearly a year, as I hammered on on my own. She was always supportive after that, she wanted me to get a degree. Even if it was a music degree- she didn’t care, but y’no. It was important, and it IS important! But like I said man- I sorta won the lottery, like being in a band and being able to do this stuff is amazing, so.. yeh- that was a weird moment. Finding out I knocked up my chick?! That was a pretty weird moment. Good weird.

Who would you like to hear Cover a song of yours?

Er I would love to hear a Jimmy Hendrix version of ‘All My Friends Are Metal Heads’. He would play the guitar part way better than me or Chris!

And finally DC or Marvel?

I would say Marvel. Definitely Marvel.

Everything you’d want your idol to be, he was so lovely, and so chilled, it was a pleasure to have a sit down with Less Than Jake’s Roger, he couldn’t have had more time for us. Keep your eyes peeled for their brand new album..

roger-kimberly