An Interview with Chris DeMakes of Less Than Jake

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Less Than Jake announce first album in 7 years (stream “Lie To Me”)

I’ve been a fan of 3rd wave Ska for as long as I can remember. The marriage of old school Jamaican Ska and Punk music combined with themes of social justice and radical change have always appealed to me. When I was younger, I simply liked the energy of the music. As I’ve gotten older, the meaning behind the words have taken on greater significance to me. For me, Punk has always been a state of mind. Anyone can be a Punk. You don’t have to wear leather or chains. That being said, you can if you want. I suppose what I’m getting at is that Punk is whatever you want it to be. It’s a personal thing. Ska/Punk is even more so, at least, for me it is. I’m also not saying I’m a “Punk,” I just like the music. In saying that, does that actually make me a punk?

In 2016, my best friend Joe and I went to a local venue (which has sadly closed due to COVID-19) called Revolution Music Hall. That evening, we went to see a great bill of Ska/Punk bands we grew up loving. On the bill that night was local band, High School Football Heroes as well as Mustard Plug and Less Than Jake. Overall, it was an incredible show. At the time, I was just beginning to rebuild my lost vinyl collection, and so I ventured over to the merch table to check out what they had available. They were all sold out of Mustard Plug vinyl, but what they did have was High School Football Hero’s album, Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and Less Thank Jake’s Losing Streak. I deemed these two albums essential, but there was a problem- I was at a Punk Rock show, and this was a small venue. The entire place was about to become a mosh-pit and vinyl definitely does not like mosh-pits. I asked the merch guy if he thought the albums would still be there after the show, to which he replied, “No way.” And so, I purchased the two records and resolved to protect them at all costs throughout the show. To make a long story short, I spent the entire show pinned against the soundboard wall, just outside of the mosh-pit, hugging my two records. They made it out unscathed and they are sitting happily in my collection to this day. At the time, it was annoying, but I have no regrets. The show was amazing. Those two records are now impossible to find, and I have nothing but happy memories.

Today, I am serving up a really cool interview for you all. Chris DeMakes is Less Than Jake’s guitar player and singer, and he has been with them since the very beginning. He’s a veteran of the scene. On a day when I am fondly remembering one of my favorite shows (as well as days when my back could handle a mosh-pit), I am happy to share this one with all of you. Chris is a great guy. Also, Less Than Jake has a new album out. It’s called Silver Linings and you cab grab it here. Do your part. Enjoy!

Andrew:
Chris, thank you for joining us here. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Chris:
Tons of stuff. Too much to mention in detail actually. I host a weekly podcast called Chris DeMakes a Podcast, write custom songs and jingles, provide live 1 on 1 zoom calls with those interested in collaborating on songs, having me produce their songs, band or answer any and all questions pertaining to the music business. I just released my first book, Blast From the Past. You can pre-order it at chrisdemakesabook.com. Less Than Jake’s new album, Silver Linings came out December 11, 2020!

Andrew:
Less Than Jake has been around since 1992, right? Tell us how the band got its start?

Chris:
In a sweaty warehouse, in Gainesville, Florida, while drinking beer with our friends. Cheap beer. Really cheap beer.

Andrew:
In my opinion, Less Than Jake has been one of the pillars of the Ska-Punk community for nearly 30 years. How has the scene changed over that time?

Chris:
There are way less Ska Punk bands around now. The ones that are around, are here because they were the real deal, and stood the test of time. As far as the Ska Punk community, it’s thriving and better than ever!

The Vans Warped Tour 2011 | MESA/Boogie®

Andrew:
A lot of your later work gets all the attention, but Pezcore was a truly great album. What can you tell us about the recording of your debut?
 

Chris:
We recorded the album in 19 hours and it sounds like it! I’m glad you and others find it enjoyable, all things considered.

Andrew:
Losing Streak and Hello Rockview are two of the most iconic albums of the genre. What do you remember about the recording of those albums? What was the inspiration?

Chris:
The inspiration was being young and living out of a van on tour for 10 months out of the year. Those records are true snapshots of our lives at the time. 

Andrew:
Anthem is probably your most commercially successful album. Looking back, why do you think that album hit home the way that it did? 

Chris:
Great songs, great production and 10 years of insanely hard work on our part, leading up to the album’s release.

Less Than Jake singer at Cape Coral's Rack'em: DeMakes plays solo tour

Andrew:
Let’s go back a little bit. What are some of Less Than Jake’s biggest influences as a band?

Chris:
Screeching Weasel, Operation Ivy, Doughboys, Snuff, Fishbone, Bad Religion and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. 

Andrew:
There are so many eras of Ska music. Jamaican Ska. 2 Tone. Third wave. What’s your preference? How do you feel Ska today, compares to those eras of the past?

 Chris:
I like all those eras. They can’t be compared, really. They’re all so different. 

Andrew:
Shifting more toward the Punk side of things. Often times people will say that Punk is more of a mentality thank a genre. Would you agree? What are your thoughts on the idea of “Punk?” 

Chris:
Punk is an ideal. It’s about being who you want to be, not what someone wants you to be.

 

Interview: Less Than Jake – The Pier Magazine

Andrew:
We haven’t seen a new Less Than Jake album since 2013’s See the Light, which was a great album. Will we see some new music soon? 

Chris:
We did put out an EP in 2017 called Sound the Alarm and our new album Silver Linings is out now!

Andrew:
I had a chance to see you live some years back at a small venue called Revolution here on Long Island, New York. Mustard Plug supported you. It was a great show. The band really seemed to be in its element in the live setting. What is it about performing live that you enjoy the most?

Chris:
The mutual feeding off of energy between the band and the fans. 

Andrew:
2020 was an unusual year, but we still saw a lot of great music released. What are some of your “must have” albums of 2020? 

Less Than Jake, Silver Linings.

Less Than Jake – Silver Linings (Album Review) – Wall Of Sound

Andrew:
Where do you get your music these days?

Chris:
I find and listen to all my music on YouTube. 

Andrew:
In terms of Ska and Punk, which bands are carrying the torch?

 Chris:
The Interrupters and The Menzingers. 

Andrew:
Last question. You guys have been at it a long time. What advice do you have for young bands just getting started?

Chris:
You gotta find the right group of like minded people that share the same drive and goals that you do. That, and a whole lot of hard work. Thanks to everyone at Vinyl Writer Music, and everyone else reading this! 

Interview: Less Than Jake Are the Ska Antidote to 2020 - The Alternative

Interested in sampling the music of Less Than Jake? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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