Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Fiorello kindly took time to hype up their upcoming Aussie tour with Bodyjar and Foxtrot, while proving his perspicacious capacity for musing on the music industry unmatched after a quarter century in a globally successful band.
Wall Of Sound: Hey Vinnie, cheers for chatting, man. What were you up to before I rudely interrupted your life to talk?
Vinnie: Well, we’re currently sitting down to some dinner on a day off from touring in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
WOS: There’s a lot of jokes about that place, right? As an Australian, we’re pretty removed from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Is it as weird and strange as everyone says?
VF: Nah, man. It has, like, a little bit of a weird vibe, but I think that’s just because it’s hot here all the time. It’s the same thing as (LTJ’s home state) Florida… it makes people’s heads go a little bit crazy. Kind of like Australia, to be honest with you!
WOS: Have you figured out why Australians like Less Than Jake so much? Maybe it’s the heat we have in common?
VF: Hah! Yeah, I think it’s the heat, for sure.
WOS: You guys keep getting a look in back here in Australia. It seems we can’t get enough of Less Than Jake for the last quarter century. Is it hard to get back here? Do you really have to work at it, or do the invites just keep flowing?
VF: Here’s the thing, man. Less Than Jake and Australia… like, Florida is very similar to a lot of Australia, so the first time we were in Australia, it felt like Florida, and people are always down for a good time. They’re laid back, and it’s one of our favourite countries to go tour in. So we’re lucky enough to get asked back and do shows, no problem.
WOS: There’s probably a kinship here with Florida that Australians don’t really grasp, but you do as a Floridian who travels here and sees the similarities.
VF: I think we could start a YouTube conspiracy channel and make some weird argument about the interwoveness of Florida and Australia.
WOS: You are in the upper echelons of veteran touring musicians. I’m sure you could philosophize at length – or have already – about tour life, and which places are similar. Would I be correct in assuming that?
VF: You would be correct, sir. I consider myself a – as we say – Pro-Am of touring life, at least a Pro-Am (Professional amateur; skateboarding reference).
WOS: Well you’ve done the stadiums, you’ve done the dive bars, and everywhere in between. As we both know, the punk and ska phenomenon tends to peak and trough throughout decades. Have you noticed the popularity on the rise again for the two in recent times around the world?
VF: Yeah, I think that… it’s interesting because any time a genre sort of peaks out on radio, video, or whatever; how many it sells or how many people turn up to the gigs, it’s inevitable that what goes up must come down. I can say that ska-punk music, it’s survived a half-dozen other genres that are completely obliterated. So for me, I kind of think that people look at it and go ‘Oh, ska-punk, it died and then came back’, well not really, man! It’s always had its popular spots, and those spots stayed popular, it’s just some other spots just happened to be that it was popular during the same time it was popular on radio, or whatever. Long-windedly answering your question though; yes! I have noticed that (chuckles).
In the UK, Australia, Canada, I see ska-punk music on the rise, for sure.
WOS: If you guys are getting a look in, then clearly there’s ska punk somewhere that’s happy to support you when you’re on a world tour.
VF: You know what, ska punk music will forever be linked to what Less Than Jake does, no matter even if we have a ballad, people are gonna go ‘Oh, it’s that ska-punk party band’. But I can never bomb out on the genre, because it’s the reason we have everything we have. It lets us tour the world, and the ability to sustain ourselves. It’s our job to be in a band, I mean, how fuckin’ rad is that?
WOS: As a drummer in a not-world famous band, I can safely say that it must be sweet on the other side of that mountain!
VF: It is! I’ll never look back and think I made the wrong decision playing in a band. People work their whole lives to be able to do it, and Less Than Jake was lucky enough to be able to do what we do. Another side to that is that we’re lucky to have very righteous fans, and in some cases fans that have become friends; “Hey how you doin’? How’s your wife? How’s so-and-so”, y’know? There’s some places where one third of the crowd is that for us. Where you know all those people, and it’s a good feeling for LTJ. We’re lucky to be in a genre we like to play and that people enjoy it, but we’re also very, very lucky to have the fans that we have.
WOS: Absolutely, man. As one of your long-time die-hard fans, I can attest to the madness and joy that takes place at every Less Than Jake show.
VF: Yeah man, but that’s what makes the LTJ experience what it is! If the crowd’s up for it, then we’re up for it. The minute the crowd’s not up for it, get gig never gets to the ceiling. You’re right though, they’re funny people that are up for it. We try to throw out some crazy stuff and occasionally crazy stuff happens.
WOS: And you’re touring with the might Bodyjar. You’ve obviously toured with them at some point before?
VF: We’ve literally never toured with Bodyjar before. We’ve never done any shows with Bodyjar before, nothing!
WOS: Holy shit, are you fuckin’ serious? After all these years?
VF: Yeah, man! (LTJ bassist/ singer) Roger is a massive Bodyjar fan, so for us it was a perfect thing. They were up for the tour, they were available, and we’ve never toured with them, so it was great!
WOS: That’s great. Yeah, they’re releasing new music here right now for the first time in a while. Cam their lead singer has been working in a skate shop since forever between releases! Seems like it’s a great time to be both a Bodyjar and Less Than Jake fan.
VF: Yeah man, for sure!
WOS: Now I read somewhere that you guys have had well over 300 releases as a band since you started 25 years back. Is that a correct figure?
VF: I think it’s up to 411.
WOS: Dear God. That’s – I’m shitty at math – that’s like nearly 20 a year!
VF: Yeah, but here’s the thing; to get to that number, it’s that we have a Japanese release on vinyl, and that same release has a slightly different UK release, and then we have singles we put out in each one of the territories, then we have different vinyls, and some collection of X, Y, and Z, and a jukebox single set, and a picture disc set, and a regular vinyl, then a deluxe version with a gatefold, so that’s 411 releases!
WOS: Madness! And how many of them do you personally own?
VF: I own every single one of them (laughs).
WOS: That’s fucking awesome. Are they pride of place or just squared away in a box somewhere?
VF: Yeah, they’re in a box. I used to have them out lurking around, but then it was just a bit too much… 400 of anything is too much.
WOS: It’s very impressive. You surely must pat yourself on the back sometimes for such an effort.
VF: Sometimes, yeah, man. And it just keeps on growing, so that’s an awesome thing.
WOS: Indeed. Thanks for chatting, Vinnie. Enjoy your dinner, man.
VF; Take it easy, bro.
Words by Todd Gingell
Less Than Jake – 25 Years Australian Tour
with: Bodyjar and Foxtrot
Thursday October 19
The Prince, Melbourne
Saturday October 21
The Gov, Adelaide
Sunday October 22
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tuesday October 24
The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Wednesday October 25
Metro Theatre, Sydney