Less Than Jake was at the forefront of the Ska explosion during the mid 90s and 20 years later they are still going strong as one of the headliners for this year’s Warped Tour. I have to admit, I haven’t paid attention to Warped Tour for several years now but with a slew of “older” bands on the bill, Less Than Jake may truly be leading the way in making ‘Warped Tour great again.’ I caught up with Buddy Schaub of LTJ during the tour’s New York stop at Jones Beach Theater and discussed the ever changing landscape of the music industry and how the band has adapted and persevered all these years.
LESS THAN JAKE INTERVIEW
SONIC HIGHLARK: I’ve been listening to a lot of the bands playing on this Warped Tour for a long time, but you guys are one of those bands that never really stopped putting out music.
BUDDY SCHAUB (TROMBONE // LESS THAN JAKE): No, we did not. We haven’t been one of those bands that have that hiatus or break up and get back together. We joked about breaking up during the middle of the tour but then getting back together the next day, everyday for the rest of the tour, like “We’re back together again!”
SONIC: Haha, and what are some of the changes you’ve seen over the years?
BUDDY: Oh God, the ride that we’ve been on is crazy. So many different things have changed but one of the biggest changes for us is the technology over the years. Recording music and putting out music is one side of it, but even the touring side alone the technology has been crazy. When we first started playing there were no cellphones and no internet at all, so booking a show for a tour was like sending actual tape cassettes, demo tapes to… Seattle, trying to get a show then waiting to hear back from them through snail mail. We’d have to pull over the van near a pay phone to call the next venue, now we have Google Maps on our phones, but we used to have real maps and argue with each other about whether or not we’re going the wrong way.
SONIC: Oh that’s true, or MapQuest or something.
BUDDY: Yeah, someone would print out all the directions for the tour on the MapQuest thing.
SONIC: I remember that, I would be saying “Wait, we forgot the MapQuest!”
BUDDY: Right, “We gotta go back!” There are also changes on a personal level too, when you get to a venue… we’ve played the same clubs a lot as we’ve gone along and sometimes I thought I was in the middle of nowhere because I didn’t have a map, but now I have my phone so I look and it’s like “Wait a minute, we’re only 6 blocks away from the most happening part of this town!” We used to sit around the club and do nothing but now it opens up a lot more opportunities to go see other stuff.
SONIC: What about the audience? Are there a lot of the same fans or more new ones?
BUDDY: That’s what’s so good about being in a band so long. Fortunately we have fans that stick around the whole time so we have fans that are our age that still come to a show and we still get new fans by doing things like this. Warped Tour is great for that, there are younger kids that have heard of us like “Oh my older cousin listens to you guys but I never saw you.” Sometimes we get the parent with the kid, so we keep having different generations of fans almost, it’s great.
SONIC: Losing Steak was great but Hello Rockview is one of my favorite Ska albums.
BUDDY: We actually re-released both Losing Streak and Hello Rockview on vinyl few months ago and we did 3 different pressings of it already but they’re almost gone. We still have a few in our merch booth.
SONIC: No way! I have to stop by there later for sure.
BUDDY: They’re selling like wildfire, but they haven’t been on vinyl in over a decade so…
SONIC: Hello Rockview in particular, I really connected with that one.
BUDDY: Yeah, that’s the quintessential Less Than Jake album. It’s one of the big two, Losing Streak and Hello Rockview are the ones everyone seems to cling to.
SONIC: It’s a great album all the way through, Greased is a lot of fun too.
BUDDY: Going back to what you were saying, that’s another one of the things that have changed over the years is the full albums. I couldn’t wait for a record to come out and actually get the record, the artwork, look through the lyrics and stuff. Nowadays because of the internet people can just download a song, or listen to a part of a song on Spotify and the whole concept of a record is waning. People don’t digest things as a full album anymore. It’s whatever you can listen to on iTunes for 5 seconds and if you don’t like it, it’s trash, trash, and it has made music more disposable and the album is a thing that’s going away.
SONIC: I ask a lot of bands this question also.
BUDDY: Kids don’t listen to it like that anymore. You have a favorite album from ours but kids are just into songs.