Less Than Jake Talk Touring & New Tunes

Less Than Jake having been touring, hard. The band with “About fifty-five records” has a reputation for hitting the road hard and serving their brand of Ska Punk to an ever growing fanbase. With a legacy that covers twenty-odd years and stretches all the way back to debut album, Pezcore the band, and the music is rocking just as sweetly as ever.

During Vans Warped Tour ARTISTdirects Christopher Friedmann caught up with trombonist Buddy Schaub to discuss life inside the crazy circus of a touring band, the new material, and just how many people one can expect to meet on the way to the porta potty in the morning…

Christopher Friedmann: So, we’re talking at Vans Warped Tour, what makes a traveling festival so appealing to Less Than Jake?

Buddy Schaub: Who said it was appealing?! (Laughs) Actually a traveling festival like this is awesome because it is like a giant circus, and everything gets set up every day – it’s kind of the same but also a lot different. What’s kind of cool about this tour is, (unfortunately today we played at 11.20am) but you can play whenever, so you don’t get set into those same rhythms that you would fall into in a normal tour. 

I liken it to being in high school, because there’s the cafeteria where the catering is and there’s the principal’s office where all of production is, and if you get in trouble you have to go there (Laughs) and recess is every day when you get to play. It’s very like high school, it’s very cliquey too!

CF: One of the charms of Warped Tour is the randomization of the schedule…

BS: …I don’t know if it’s a charm, necessarily, but it is good because you don’t get stuck in ruts, but if you’re trying to plan something; you’re girlfriend coming out or anything, planning anything you can’t. You’re screwed.

CF: Do you reflect that approach – the randomization – in your set list?

BS: Yeah, well, like… that’ the other thing about Warped Tour too; you only play for half an hour. So, for us, we have fifty-five records so trying to come up with just half an hours worth of music is actually pretty challenging. We sculptured four or five different set lists and rotate through them, because if you just play the same half hour for the whole summer it’s pretty mind-numbing. You have to change it up a little, though some bands don’t, but I could not make it through the tour if we just did the same songs every day in a row.

CF: You’ve been on the road for a while now, how do you preserve sanity and still remain friends?

BS: Well, I don’t know. I mean, we’ve been in a band now, we’ve been together for twenty four, coming up to twenty five years so those speed bumps were reached quite a while ago and they’re still tackled every day but we know each other’s idiosyncrasies so much that traveling with the same dudes all the time has become pretty easy, actually.

CF: So, other than each other, who were you most excited about playing with at this tour?

BS: Well, actually for us this is great, because two years ago we didn’t know too many bands that were on the tour and we had to make friends, so we made friends with Four Year Strong, Story So Far, and they’re out here again, and a bunch of our friends from before like Reel Big Fish and Masked Intruder and the Interrupters… so it’s getting like I can’t even go to the porta potty in the morning and take a s*** without running into fifteen people. Which is kind of a problem after a long night on the Warped Tour.

CF: So, other than what may happen in the porta potty have there been any great surprises along the way?

BS: You know, we’ve done this so many times it’s hard to surprise us. The Warped Tour has gone exactly as I’ve described it a million times; it’s a six week or seven week thing, so there’s definitely a pattern of behavior that I won’t bore people with again.

CF: So, what’s the worst thing that’s happened so far?

BS: Having to talk to fifteen people on the way to the porta potty. Or maybe this morning, when I had to put vodka in my coffee just to go and start the set, because we played at 11.20am but things could have gone worse… I mean if those are the things that I’m bitching about.

CF: So what’s been happening that you wouldn’t tell your mother about?

LTJ: Ooooh… I’m 43, nothing happens on tour that I wouldn’t tell my mom about at this point! She’d be bored of my stories… “You’re still wetting your bed, son?!!?” (Laughs)

CF: Where have the best crowds been so far?

BS: US – we have the best crowd! Fall And Reverse has a good crowd, Sirens have a big crowd, then, y’know Yellowcard are breaking up again too – so they have all that hype that surrounds them every day. It’s been good. Waka Flocka is out here now too, he’s playing other people’s songs which I don’t even get… he’s not playing them, he’s just playing their songs over the sound system and then saying ‘Waka Flocka!’ over the top of them, which I guess I’m too old to understand what that means.

CF: You’ve clearly had a plethora of rock ‘n’ roll experiences throughout the course of your career…

BS: Yuh!

CF: Can you share something with us that was more grounding and human in nature?

LTJ: Interesting. I mean back in the old days kids would be crowd surfing and security would be like choking them out and we’d have to stop the show and have security removed from the show. We did a show – Ska against racism – and there was a bunch of bands on tour together and we just did each other’s security because the real security guys were being such dicks – that’s kinda grounding when you see that you’re usually trying to emote positivity but then you see, in the middle of that, the negativity – you have to shut that down. That doesn’t happen so much any more. Everyone’s cool now!

CF: So, what are you most looking forward to when you get home?

BS: Sleeping in my own bed, that’s not moving, because riding on a bus, as glamorous as it sounds is a little uncomfortable. Maybe, going in my pool because we’ve been on Warped Tour all summer and all I want is pool to jump into and there isn’t one. Brutal.

CF: Your last album was on November 12th 2013…

BS: Yep, 11.12.13 makes it easy to remember…

CF: I heard there’s talk about a new album in 2017…

BS: Well actually we’re meant to already have stuff out, because we had some stuff together last November, when we got done touring – we were home for a while and we wrote a bunch of stuff, but we weren’t really into it so we scrapped it and started over in May. Now we have seven or eight more songs which are shaping up and we’re more into what’s going on with them now, so we’re hopefully going to tidy up some loose ends and then do some stuff, hopefully in the new year we’ll have some music out for you.

CF: Can you tell us something about the process and what to expect?

BS: Yes… it goes “ba-da-ba-da-da-ba-ba-POW!” and then Roger puts a mic on that and there it is. Roger has recorded our last few records at his studios and it’s great – we’ve just been paying attention over the years to everyone who’s done recording for us, and we’ve gathered information as we went.

We’re pretty self-sufficient – we have a little home studio – while we’re writing it’s pretty organic, we sit around and Vinnie our drummer always writes our lyrics, which is weird because we have to fit those into the melodies that other people are writing and we’ll do an iPhone recording of it, and then take it away and I’ll work out parts, and then come to the studio… it’s a very lengthy process these days. Technology has made it easier and harder, we used to be just like “Alright! That’s just the first thing I thought of!!” now we have more time to come up with too many parts and then try and decide which ones are better than the other ones.

CF: If there was a song that summed up your tour so far, which would it be?

BS: “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix because I’m watching all of you! I don’t trust any of you.

CF: The Hendrix version, not the Dylan version?

BS: Clearly. The most drug-induced one… but I don’t know, I put all that aside (Laughs) If Jimi was around I think he’d still be a little f***** up too! 

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