Less Than Jake
Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
When you first start a band you never really think that it's going to get heard by anyone outside your small group of friends and the practice space walls. We thought the same exact thing. Chris and I started playing in a different band when we were both in high school. It was sloppy and messy but it was fun to stumble over drumbeats, hear all the mumbled words and half finished chords on guitar. It was our noise, it was our messy half-assed songs. It was good to drive my neighbor "Herb" crazy with all the feedback and shitty cymbals clanging. We even went as far as to write a "song" about "Herb" with the chorus repeatedly chanting "Hey Herb" over and over again till either the police came or we had to go outside for a smoke break. After Chris moved up to Gainesville, from our shitty town 3 hours south, to go to college it was kinda clear - either I had to move or the band would consist of me, a few guys who did construction (meaning they drank Budweiser at heights from 20 to 50 feet in the air and could smoke cigarettes and hammer nails at the same time), and one guy with a mohawk who couldn't sing or even show up for practice. With all that in mind I moved up to Gainesville to go to school and to start a band with Chris.
By the time I got up to Gainesville, we already had a few songs for the new band. Between Chris driving down on weekends or me and Mark Cruce coming up for a visit we had a handful of new songs but no bass player or name.
Chris had a few ideas for bass players by the time I got into town. We decided before we tried to get a bass player we'd zero in on a name for the "band" - to either (A) - make it seem like we had out shit together or (B) - make ourselves feel better. I think it was (B) or maybe it was just so I could write it over and over again on notebook paper during my anthropology class.
After practicing for a few weeks with this one bass player, who I will still say to this day, wore the baggiest pants I've ever seen and had an even worse voice than myself, we met Roger through Chris's roommate's sister's friend (that was confusing). Roger had never played bass before LTJ but actually was amazing (still is) on guitar. After Rog went out and got the cheapest bass possible at one of the local pawn shops, we knew we found a new bass player or at least someone who actually knew who the DESCENDENTS were. Either way it was a win-win situation.
We've never been secretive about our influences as a band, I mean one of our main inspirations was a band from the UK called SNUFF, on a few songs they had this trombone playing over this really fast poppy-punk. When we started playing we were a three piece: me, Chris and Rog. After getting a bunch more songs together we decided that we wanted to get a horn to play on some stuff we had. First off, let me say that 10 years ago having horns over punk rock was unheard of, with the exception of the Bosstones and secondly we were heckled frequently by that fact with "can you say Bosstone?" spray painted on the wall of our practice space by an extreme local asshole in another band we shared the space with. We got our wish and found our first horn player - she was playing with a rather horrible local traditional ska band. We figured we edged them out just by the sheer fact we could finish our songs after we started them. So armed with that confidence, we approached her and we started practicing with "J" a few days later.
Doing a 7" record used to be the first and most important thing you did as a band. It was a permanent mark. It was a trophy for all the hard work. It wasn't disposable like tapes were back then or CDR's are today. For our first 7" we had this comic book style lyric sheet and Roger and "J" even went as far as hand screening 300 covers.
Playing a show one Tuesday night at the Hardback (R.I.P.), one of the guys from the opening band DIG DUG came up to us and said, "...I used to play trombone in high school..." and we said, "...uh...come out and play." To be honest between the crappy tap beer I was drinking by the pitcher and the fact it was loud and dark in the club - that night is just a vague recollection. But when he called and said he'd come out to the warehouse where we practiced, we immediately decided that his new name was "goldfinger" notfor any reason other than he played a gold trombone and I was too drunk the night we met to remember his real name a few days after. Everyone say, "Hi Buddy." I think Buddy joined the band after a few practices on the assumption it was part time only. I guess he was really wrong.
Armed with two horn players, we continued writing, recording, playing shows, and even started to book our first US tour. It was 48 days in the middle of summer sweating in our 1979 blue and white Chevy nomad van. On a side note the "blue and white" was our home for a half dozen tours till it died after one too many engine fires. Ironically, it died on the way to a PEZ convention.
Right before the first tour Buddy was getting ready to go to Europe with his friends, we needed a fill in player so we could still play while he was gone. After trying out a few people without any sparks, we decided to call up a baritone sax player that was playing in a third wave ska band in Orlando. After we practiced with him a few times and played a few shows he joined in after our first tour. Enter our third horn player, "D".
With our first CD "Pezcore" out and just finishing recording for our new one "Losing Streak", we lost one member "J" - who went off to become a high school teacher a few hours away from Gainesville while everyone else quit school and our shitty jobs to tour full time. With one horn player gone, we figured the only logical replacement was from SLAPSTICK who just recently had broken up. Enter Pete. We had played with his old band before but I hadn't seen him in a year or so I called him to come down to play. We got him a ticket to fly down to Florida to practice, but when I went to go pick him up I sat there waiting and waiting. I figured he hadn't shown up, but right as I was getting ready to leave I saw a guy who looked like Pete but with long curly hair, a tie-dye shirt and thick black frame glasses. It just didn't look like it was him. A year changes a lot but not the fact that he still kicked ass on trombone and still puffed his cheeks out while he played, two things I remembered distinctly.
It must be one of those things that tie all of the LTJ horn players together; they all at one time had "wacky" hair. Hell, I'll be the first to admit I had this crazy parted down the middle feathered mullet, but that was in 1984. Pete had his "Afro" stage, Buddy tried growing his out to the point of looking like a demented version of one of the stars of Growing Pains, I think it was Kirk something or another. Anyways, "J" went through a really weird time and "D" had this Flock of Seagulls lead singer look in his early college years, but that was in the mid 90's. So, when "D" decided to leave after recording "Borders and Boundaries" we started looking for another horn player. Just like last time, we found our new horn player out of the ashes of another band. This time that band was SPRING HEELED JACK. His name is Pete but to avoid any confusion he was dubbed "JR" - as in PeteJunior and when he showed up in Gainesville he was sporting an amazing mullet.
A funny story and side note just happened recently over the summer when I read the lips of Warren the guitar player from the VANDALS not knowing who JR was, he was mouthing the words to his friend, "look at that mullet!"
Recently Pete, decided to get a better haircut and unfortunately leave the band right after Warped 2001. His new haircut can be seen somewhere in the Chicagoland area.
Now that you're up to date with the cast of characters it's time for me to sign off and go for a smoke outside. - Vinnie