Less Than Jake are back! “But they never went anywhere,” you protest. Well reader, in that sense you are correct. But this fall they’re not only serving up their first full-length in five years, but—after more than two decades together—also embracing a total back to basics approach.
Throughout a career that has run the gamut from self-releases and small indie imprints to large independent labels and major music conglomerates, the band has always been more than the sum of its parts. Now more than ever, though, they espouse their stature as a DIY collective that works together—or at least in tandem with a few trusted allies—on every element of their creative output. Drummer Vinnie Fiorello recalls, “We started out very internal, and nowadays we handle a lot internally again.”
The result of their old school approach is the old school sound of See The Light, created without any external meddling from corporate lackeys. “Everyone had their alone time with chords and some quick structures; we all put our ideas down before we got together,” says Vinnie. “Then we sat at an octagon table in our warehouse and went through: this is what we think about this song, maybe we should do it ska, maybe we should do it punk—true band songwriting in essence.”
Not only was the songwriting a true group effort, but—like the three EPs the band have released since 2008’s long-player GNV FLA—so was the actual recording of See The Light, which was tracked entirely at Gainesville’s The Moathouse, owned by LTJ bassist Roger Lima, who took lead production duties with communal input and assistance from his four band mates and live sound engineer.
“Roger has been recording our demos since the beginning of the band and steadily has worked his way up learning about studios from everyone we’ve worked with in the past,” says trombone player Buddy Schaub. With no ticking clock and no studio fees piling up, the band used their breathing room to create somewhat of a rarity in today’s prefab music world: a full-length album that gels as a complete thought, lyrically and musically. Buddy adds, “I think this is one of the closest representations of our band to date. We’re all really excited for this record to get out into the world and we can’t wait to hear what people think!”
Like 2000’s release Borders and Boundaries, the new record was mixed at the famed Blasting Room by punk rock legend Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and Jason Livermore, but don’t let that lead you to believe that there’s anything same-ish about See The Light. “If you’re expecting retreads and repeats, this record will disappoint,” exclaims Roger. “It’s all new songs and new vibes only recorded in our old school way.”
While some other bands of a certain vintage are latching onto musical trends, you won’t find any dubstep beats or vocoder distortion on See The Light—a title that nods to the band, history of marrying dark lyrical content (the tunnel) to bouncy musical arrangements (the light at the end). Less Than Jake aren’t turning away from their roots, and echoing Mark Twain, Fiorello points out that the rumors regarding their genre, demise are greatly exaggerated: “Punk has been declared dead every year for 30+ years and it’s still going stronger than ever. People like to declare things dead just because it’s dead to them, but if bands are passionate about what they’re doing, they’ll attract fans who are passionate.”
As fits a band born long enough ago to now be of legal drinking age, Less Than Jake pulls in a multi-generational audience, which Vinnie notes is often a family affair. “Our crowd now is 16 to 40, and I’ve met kids as young as eight or nine. Dads bring their sons and it’s a weird rite of passage; moms bring kids in saying, ‘We’ve watched you guys for 15 years.’ But will the band stick around long enough to draw in a third generation of fans? “I don’t know man. I think our guys on that would be NOFX and Bad Religion. When you see Fat Mike or Bad Religion hang it up, maybe: but like them, we’re gonna ride that out. “We’re glad to be along for the ride. Hop on board when See The Light sees the light on November 12!
Talking with Bowling for Soup singer Jaret Reddick, you may not immediately get the sense that this affable, down-to-earth Texan fronts a Grammy- and Emmy-nominated pop/punk band with over a million album sales to their credit. "If you compare our first album to our 10th one, you could be like, 'Let's see... Well, their voices finally changed, and they got a lot better musically, but they still sound like the same guys to me," Reddick says, the grin audible in his North Texas drawl. "Man, I would hope we're still the same guys! Can you imagine what a bummer it'd be if we weren't?" Frankly, we can't-and on their 10th studio album, Sorry for Partyin', Bowling for Soup prove that no matter what lame new trends may lurk outside their studio walls, they've got the hits, fits, shits and giggles to keep coming out ahead.
From side-splittingly funny double entendres (the I-can't-believe-they-got-away-with-that lead single "My Wena") to call-and-response jams you'll undoubtedly be hearing in high schools worldwide ("No Hablo Ingles"), Sorry for Partyin' features some of the funniest, most infectious songs of BFS' 15-year career. Of course, the album also packs some of the strongest, most confident songwriting in BFS' catalog, proving once again that these guys are masters of their craft. "We've created our niche, and our niche is us," says Reddick, who formed Bowling for Soup in 1994 and today rounds out the Denton, Texas-based quartet with guitarist Chris Burney, bassist Erik Chandler and drummer Gary Wiseman. "We know there are lots of people out there who think guys in their 30s shouldn't be writing about stuff like their 'Wena' and farts and beers and chicks." (Incidentally, you'll find all of the above on Sorry for Partyin'.) "But I say why not? What should guys in their 30s be writing about? The economy? War? Organic food versus non-organic? We like funny movies, and we like to drink beer and talk smack about each other's moms. There's nothing contrived about it--this is who we are."
For anyone else who thinks humor doesn't belong in music, let's also remember that this is who BFS are: A worldwide phenomenon with a string of hit singles (including 2006's "High School Never Ends" and the 2004 MTV and radio smash "1985") to their credit. A fan-favorite live act whose chemistry is so innate they've never had to prepare a set list. And a TV and movie-soundtrack juggernaut whose Emmy-nominated contribution to Disney's Phineas and Ferb is literally the most widely heard cartoon theme song on the planet. Quite a step up from the salad days when they were handing out demos in Warped Tour parking lots--even if the motives behind the music have stayed pure since then. "There was nobody in Texas that sounded like us in 1994," Reddick remembers. "Obviously you had the Orange County, Calif., explosion that we felt a part of, because we were all ripping off the same bands. But as all the bands from that era started finding success, people started getting super-serious and making these really dreary or angry records. I'm not saying I don't like that stuff, but for us it's always been a case of 'Let's never do that!' We want to be that point of somebody's day where they can get off work and put us in and think, 'Okay, yeah: Everything else sucks, but this is awesome."
Fittingly, "awesome" was an operative word during the Sorry for Partyin' sessions. Working with producer Linus of Hollywood (also Reddick's partner in the year-old Crappy Records label), BFS cut the album in a whirlwind 24 days at Wire Recording Studio in Austin, Texas, where the ideas flowed as readily as... Well-let's just say there's a reason they titled one of Sorry's singles "Hooray for Beer." "We had close to a two-year break between the last record (2006's The Great Burrito Extortion Case) and writing for this one," Reddick says, "so we were ready to have some fun." The anything-goes atmosphere lent itself to some interesting collaborations, too: After discovering that one of their musical heroes, former ALL vocalist Scott Reynolds, lived just blocks from the studio, BFS rang him up to make a cameo on "America (Wake up Amy)." Fastball's Tony Scalzo, another Austin native and band friend, ended up collaborating on the rollicking kiss-off to an ex "I Don't Wish You Were Dead Anymore." And, even if he originally dropped by just to hang out with his friends, Nerf Herder frontman/YouTube mega-star Parry Gripp also wound up making a cameo on vocals. "It literally felt like more of a party than work, and I think that shows up throughout the record," Reddick remembers. "People are gonna hear this and be like, 'Okay, well, it sounds like they had just a little bit of fun." Of course, they also got serious-or as serious as you can when your album's lead single is a wiener joke. "I think a song like 'My Wena' is a perfect example of us being like, 'Okay, whatever people think is as far as we're gonna take it, we'll just keep pushing things to the next level,'" Reddick explains. "But there are a handful of songs on this record that really mean a lot, too. I think that was also a part of the studio environment--whether we were goofing around or wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we weren't afraid to go for it."
Considering how long they've been a band, it's no small wonder that Bowling for Soup still find new ways to go for it in the niche they've carved out for themselves. But as Reddick notes, that sense of abandon is just the thing that's allowed BFS to tackle Sorry for Partyin' as if it were their first record, not their 10th. "We've always said that the day it's not fun anymore, we're just not gonna do it anymore," he concludes. "So why focus on the down side? Let's keep doing what we do best. Let's keep having fun."
The Aquabats are an American rock band formed in Orange County, California in 1994. The Aquabats' are comprised of singer and fearless leader The M.C. Bat Commander, Bass player and big man Crash McLarson, keyboardist and robot Jimmy the Robot, drummer and fitness guru Ricky Fitness and guitarist and spiritualist Eagle "Bones" Falconhawk.
Easily identified by their silver helmets, black Zorro masks and matching blue costumes, The Aquabats claim to be crime-fighting superheroes and ‘seriously…the best band in the world.’ This theme serves as subject for much of the band's music and as part of their theatrical stage shows, which typically feature various stunts and fight scenes with costumed villains and monsters. Musically, The Aquabats have been able to navigate many styles but seem to be particular to the “rock n’ roll” style. They even dance while they play music. Incredible? You be the judge.
The Aquabats have released five studio albums, two extended plays and one compilation album, among other recordings. As of March 2012, The Aquabats! Super Show!, a live-action musical action-comedy television series starring the band, began airing on American cable channel The Hub and can be binge watched on Netflix. It’s been nominated for the Daytime Emmy’s six times and even though it has yet to win an Emmy, it may actually be ‘the best show on television.’
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