Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Punk band Less Than Jake keeps it fresh after 18 years

Less Than Jake will appear June 12 at New Port Richey’s Bourbon Street Concert Club. The horn-driven punk band launched its first U.S. tour in 1997.

Special to the Times

Less Than Jake will appear June 12 at New Port Richey’s Bourbon Street Concert Club. The horn-driven punk band launched its first U.S. tour in 1997.


It doesn't seem so long ago that Less Than Jake burst forth as the latest flavor of the pop punk scene. • The funky little ska band from Gainesville had plenty of company back then, including notable peers such as Operation Ivy, Reel Big Fish, Sublime and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, all of whom helped to create something of a mini musical revolution in the indie rock industry.

Now, 18 years after guitarist Chris Demakes, drummer Vinnie Fiorello and bass player Shaun Grief formed the nucleus of the spunky, horn-driven quintet, Less Than Jake, which will perform June 12 at the Bourbon Street Concert Club in New Port Richey, stands as a testament to tenacity in the up-and-down music world.

"We've been pretty lucky," Fiorello said by phone from his home in Gainesville. "To not only be able to make a good career from music, but to work with people that you love and respect for such a long time — that's something rare in this business."

Of course, the music business has changed a lot in the two decades since the band was the toast of Gainesville's vibrant alternative rock scene during the early 1990s. According to Fiorello, Less Than Jake came along at a time when bottom lines weren't the chief concern in the industry.

"We felt that you created your own destiny," he said. "And the best way to get what we wanted is to stay busy, stay focused and have some fun along the way."

Indeed, the collective work ethic of band members Demakes, bass player Roger Manganelli (who replaced Grief in 1993), trombonist Buddy Schaub and saxophonist J.R. Wasilewski probably did more than anything else to convince Capitol Records, which had no punk acts on its roster, to sign Less Than Jake.

The 1996 debut of Losing Streak showcased the band's fast-paced sound to the world. Success followed like a rocket. The following year, the band embarked on its first U.S. tour, which concluded with a closing slot on the 1997 Warped Tour.

The band's popularity quickly soared as college and independent radio stations discovered the ever-expanding third-wave ska and punk rock scene. Songs like History of a Boring Town and All My Friends Are Metalheads became anthems to the Generation X crowd.

Fiorello said that despite their success, the members of Less Than Jake were determined to stay true to their musical independence, which by 2003 meant leaving the oversight of a major record label in favor of creating their own operation. In 2008, the band launched Sleep It Off Records with the release of GNV FLA, its first studio album in two years.

Fiorello admits he's not sure why Less Than Jake remains so relevant when so many participants of the original punk scene have faded. His guess is that it's because the band has worked hard to keep its musical perspective fresh.

"We are lucky enough to be in an underground music that tends to stray from the norm," he said. "We have an agreement between ourselves to always try to keep things a little left of center. That's what keeps it interesting and fun for all of us."

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

See them live

Less Than Jake will perform at 8 p.m. June 12 at the Bourbon Street Concert Club, 4331 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. Guest acts include Ninja Gun, Coffee Project and Rehasher. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $15. Information and advance tickets at Call (727) 843-0686.

Punk band Less Than Jake keeps it fresh after 18 years 06/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 3, 2010 3:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.