Q&A: Less Than Jake’s
Vinnie Fiorello Talks to Knockdown Alley

Posted on Thursday August 6th in

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake have been making their own brand of ska-punk music for more than two decades, becoming known for their wry sense of humor and energetic live performances in the process. The Florida quintet comes to Brooklyn Bowl London on Saturday alongside another punk group with pop leanings, Anti-Flag, for a night of Punks ’n’ Pins, which is sure to be a good time. But before they arrive, Less Than Jake drummer, lyricist, and founding member Vinnie Fiorello got in touch with Knockdown Alley as his band prepared to embark on a European tour.

Your most recent LP, See the Light, came out in 2013. Do you have any new music on the way? And do you ever road-test new material by playing it live before recording it? It’s around this time on the touring cycle that riffs start to form — you can hear noodling on a riff
on tour and scraps of paper start filling up a notebook. That all
means new music is on the distant horizon. We very rarely roll out a
formed new song live during this stage.

Your first full-length, Pezcore, came out 20 years ago. Are you paying tribute to it on your current tour? And does that music still resonate with you the same way? We play songs off all records and really never stop cycling songs from all records. I just listened to Pezcore to prepare for our Wake and Bake Weekend festival of hometown shows, and I can honestly say I feel a lot like I did 20 years ago, so it resonates big time.

Which bands that you listened to growing do you still listen to? And which do you never want to hear again? One of the first records I bought was Kiss Alive! and, yes, I still spin that record, but I also make a joke that I’m still listening to the same music as I was when I was 16. So, yeah, I guess you can say I’m still listening to a lot of old punk and reggae records. I had an ’80s metal phase and never really picked that back up again.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you? Do you have to be a Jamaican with a Mohawk to write a ska-punk song? I think you need to be a little happy and a little angry to write a great ska-punk song. Don’t forget you need a lot of coffee as well.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song — are there ever certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much? I used to lean a lot on past tense, but lately it’s all present tense and that’s a great thing.
Crutches when writing are coffee and driving around aimlessly
to clear my head and unplug.

It’s your turn at the jukebox. Which three songs would you choose first? And if the coin got stuck, do you think you could hit it like Fonzie to get it to work? “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen, “Welcome to Jamrock,” Damian Marley, and “Clean Sheets,” the Descendents. No doubt I can Fonzie the shit out of the jukebox. Let’s try it, shall we?
—R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog


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