When your English Bulldog (Jake) gets treated better than the members of your band it only makes sense to call everyone Less Than Jake. This happened 25 years ago when a group of guys out of Gainesville Florida decided they would be a punk rock band. It should also give you a sense of the musicians themselves-these dudes do not take themselves too seriously.
Full disclosure: despite 8 albums and 25 years of tours I had missed the memo. So when I got a chance to talk with Chris DeMakes all intel was new and more than a little amusing.
So how does a band make it in this industry while they are not necessarily a household name? LTJ is hard core fan driven. Their followers include a wide range of (now going on 2nd generation) folks that seem to be willing to do just about anything for them. A quick Google searched rendered reviews from everywhere showing people that followed the band as they grew up, changed locations, brought their children to see the group they all knew and loved.
The following did not stop there. Always down for creative marketing the band has partnered with fans to make hot sauce, bobble heads, even maple syrup (don’t ask-syrup and Florida storage do not mix). Their merch is awesome and includes just about anything fans could ask for or collaborate on. Their current tour is sponsored by a German football (that’s soccer to us) group that are, of course, fans of the band. There was even a bunch in Oregon that wanted to collab on a strain of dope…
Said Google search also noted that DeMakes has said he doesn’t buy music. Obviously, an industry hot button topic. In our convo he noted this was not strictly true, if someone made a rad album he would buy it. But Chris concedes that today’s music world is different. In a world filled with Spotify and Pandora, selling music is hard. The band relies not only on the merch but also on serious touring, this year brings a 25 plus U.S. city run.
Feeding off the crowd, Less Than Jake puts on a fun show. Their passion for music (and for the people that love it) brings a high energy, no holds barred performance. It is all about the shows.
With the “new guy” of this 5 man band being around for 17 years I asked their secret to longevity and member retention. “Split the money evenly” was the response.
On 2/3 Less Than Jake dropped their latest EP “Sound the Alarm”. Since our chat was prerelease, I asked what their listeners should expect. “Nothing. We are still the same old band”. Gotta love truth in advertising.
Just for fun I asked Chris to tell me something he has not told any other interviewer: He made it to 40 before he had hair in his nose and ears as well as on his back. So there you have it.