Less Than Jake
Music is an industry that thrives on change, which is probably why Less Than Jake is so successful. Despite starting out with a particular label of genre, the sound and the group itself slowly changed and morphed through the years into something that’s completely different in every way from Point A. Every way, that is, except in their attitude.
Less Than Jake’s Slow Evolution
Chris Demakes, Vinnie Fiorello and Shaun Grief – all Gainesville, Florida natives – go back a long way. The three had formed a band, Good Grief, in their high school years with Demakes on vocals and guitars, Grief on bass and Fiorello on drums. The band took a back seat, however, as Demakes had to move in order to attend university.
Less Than Jake’s Many Faces
Fiorello himself later joined Demakes at university and the two began working on a new act. The two wanted a new name – eventually settling for the group’s current one – prior to finishing the lineup. Bassist and fellow University of Florida student Roger Manganelli was the first addition. Horn player Jessica Mills and trombonist Buddy Schaub also came on after Fiorello and Demakes decided to add horns to the sound.
Between 1993 and 1995, the group went through the motions of every aspiring band. An EP, Better Class of Losers, was released. Later on, they were picked up by independent Dill Records. A saxophonist, Derron Nufher, was added in 1995 to fill in for Schaub on a tour, and Nufher eventually became a permanent member. Full-length Pezcore came out in 1995, earning the band some attention from major record labels.
Capitol Records signed the group soon after the release of their debut LP, helping them release 1996’s Losing Streak. Despite Mills’ departure and replacement by Slapstick alum Pete Anna, the band did well, even going on the 1997 Warped Tour.
Less Than Jake Becomes So Much More
A string of successful tours in 1997 and 1998 put Less Than Jake on the public radar, just in time for the release of their classic album Hello Rockview in 1998. All was not well with Capitol, however, leading to their buying out their contract to release 2000’s Borders & Boundaries under Fat Wreck Chords. Nuhfer left the band shortly after the release, and was replaced by Pete Wasilewski from ska band Spring Heeled Jack U.S.A.
Following a 2002 tour of Europe, the group did a series of re-releases starting with the compilation album Goodbye Blue and White. Their first four LP’s were also re-pressed and sold in a limited release cereal box. The group went on to release Anthem the next year, and it turned out to be one of their most commercially successful releases.
After extensive touring in 2004, the band went back to the recording studio for a new album then returned to the scene for a full American and European tour. EP Absolution for Idiots and Addicts and full-length In with the Out Crowd were released that year. It was their last release with Sire Records and Warner Bros., which they left in 2007.
With the group’s newfound independence, it released GNV FLA in June 2008. Although the members have not aired any intention to tour or record new material, the group has collectively bought the rights to all their previous releases. Fans can expect a re-release of most of their old material through the group’s own label, Sleep It Off.
Did you know that...
- ...their latest album is dedicated to the band’s hometown? The title for GNV FLA was derived from the airport code for Gainesville, Florida.
- ...the band’s name came from Fiorello’s dog? Jake was the Fiorello family bulldog while he was growing up, and he got the best treatment in the house. Everything else, therefore, was ‘less’ than Jake.