Daily Aztec: So you guys just got back from Australia, how has that been?
Peter “JR” Wasilewski: It was a lot of fun, it was the weirdest tour ever. You are on tour with your friends, people younger than you and then your heroes. For us, we were playing with Primus, Iron Maiden and Slayer, but then there are bands like Never Shout Never and Mayday Parade; younger bands like that. It was just an awesome meld of musicians and it’s kind of like Warped Tour to the 10th degree I suppose. And it was a lot of fun.
DA: Speaking of Warped Tour, you guys will be on it again this year. What has your experience been with that, in the past?
PW: We’re probably the most experienced band on Warped Tour especially with the line-up this year, but we’re psyched. It’s hard to explain but it’s very much like high school in a fact that we would be the super seniors, guys who were like 20, who probably shouldn’t be going to high school anymore, but we still show up and hit on the freshmen. So that’s kind of how I’m picturing Warped Tour this summer for us, but yeah it is always fun. It’s always a good time and we’re really excited.
DA: Less Than Jake is rereleasing the albums “Losing Streak” and “Hello Rockview,” can you tell me a little bit about what makes those albums different?
PW: When anyone gets into a band, either seeing them live or hearing a record, there are some sounds that band makes that are like magnets that draw people into it. “Losing Streak” and “Hello Rockview” were two of those pretty powerful magnets, so we started realizing that a lot of our fans didn’t have these records because the old record label that we were on had stopped printing them. So we thought “Why not take matters into our own hands?” and rerelease them. So with a little trudging through the s—— storm of the music industry we managed to get the availability of the records so we could rerelease them and let the fans have them for their listening pleasure.
DA: What is your approach to the songwriting process?
PW: It kind of depends. Roger Manganelli and Chris Demakes will bring an idea, a basic idea, chords and maybe a melody idea, and then we volley it back and forth like a game of tennis to get something to the point that we are comfortable with. And then everyone grabs their instruments and f—-s around with some stuff. Vinnie Fiorello will write the glut of the lyrics and then take the lyrics and mold them into the song. It’s an all-hands-in-the-middle type of project; it’s like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle — we all just grab pieces. I always describe it as the sum is equal to the parts, sometimes people add more and sometimes they add a little less. If you get to know us as people, you would know what songs people added to and which ones they didn’t. We all just try to hold on to this thing that is Less Than Jake, the sound that is our band and we try to move it forward a bit too.
DA: So you played for Spring Heeled Jack before Less Than Jake, was there a point when you thought “I could really do this” in one of the two bands or earlier?
PW: When I was a kid, it wasn’t ever a plan, it was just the dream. There was a show called “Kids Incorporated”: This gang of little kids would perform in their hometown pizzeria and all these other kids would dance and have fun. And I always thought “How do I do that?” Then I got a little older and a friend invited me to play in a local band and we played in one show and that was it. I was like “I gotta do this.” The fact that I’m now almost 35 and we’re still talking about this thing that I started doing because of this idea I had as a child is mind boggling. I don’t take anything away from that, I try not to complain too much. And when I hear guys that complain I’m like, “What’s so tough about your life? Awww you had to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to get on a plane?” Like c’mon dude, get the f—- out of here. It’d be worse if you had to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and go sit in a cubicle all day and want to die. There’s way worse things in life that people can be handed. I’ve seen it, I have friends that live it and it sucks. I also try to flaunt it in people’s faces. That’s the other thing too, some people take it to that nth degree and they just become these douchebags. And like, who the f—- wants to hang out with a bunch of (people like that)? Not me, no thank you. But there was never a plan, it was just a lot of trial and error and a lot of failure and a lot of “F—- I shouldn’t have done that but I did it anyways.” But if it wasn’t for those failures I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
DA: Considering the state of the music industry now, what advice would you give to bands just starting out?
PW: Quit. I mean in an evil dark sense, but in a real sense I would tell them to take control now, know what you want to be. Know how you want to be perceived and if it sounds like something already out there you should do something different. There’s just a lot of static out there right now, but good stuff will rise to the top and continue on to influence the next generation of bad bands. But I can’t hate too much because when I was coming up there was a lot of s—- there too, but it will all balance itself out in the end. I just wish everyone good luck and my advice would be just hold on and see what happens.