We caught up with Chris Demakes from Less Than Jake before the bands headline show at Oxford Academy to talk about their recent live album 'Live From Astoria', playing Groezrock Festival, future touring and music plans and much more.
So last weekend you headed to Belgium to play Groezrock festival how was it? And did you manage to check out any bands whilst there?
The festival was great, I saw Rancid who were good. Groezrock festival is one of those European festivals that’s top notch much like Reading and Leeds and Donington festivals they have over here.
You have been back in the UK for a handful of dates playing at Kingston, Liverpool, Leicester and then Oxford tonight, how have the shows been so far?
They have been great, we basically came over here to play the Groezrock festival but didn’t want to fly over for just one thing so decided to play a few other shows aswell and chose the UK and so far all 3 shows have been awesome.
The UK tour is smaller than your previous UK tours, how did you decide on which towns/cities to play on this run?
We didn’t want to go and play Manchester and Birmingham we wanted to do the more smaller places.
Places that you haven’t done for a while?
Yeah, so we thought we would do that instead.
You recently released your live album ‘Live At Astoria’ which was recorded 15 years ago, what are your best memories of your three day run at the venue back in 2001?
All kind of things, I remember thinking at the time we are already a band for 10 years we had success around the world but nothing like what was here and we were just short of being a superstar band like Led Zepplin, Bruce Springsteen that was the next step if we could of sold 2million records and I knew that then I knew this was as big as it was going to get and this is as crazy as its going to get so enjoy it as it’s not always going to be like that. That’s why we have been able to stick around for 24 years we have been able to have that humbleness about us and appreciated everything, when we sky rocketed at the 10 year mark it was crazy like the perfect storm had happened.
What made you keep the recordings back for so long and also decide to put them together for a live album 15 years later?
We knew the Astoria got demolished and the tube station is there now and we have recorded a lot of stuff over the years but this is truly a live album we had condenser mics at the sound board recording this thing it was not fixed up at the studio as we never wanted to do a live album like that as you are not fooling anybody and in a way are ripping people off. So we put out a proper live album and that show seemed to have captured the moment and also fits in with the Astoria greatness.
The London Astoria was such a special venue for both bands and their fans how did you feel when the closure of the venue was announced? And have any other venues in the UK lived up to or matched the greatness of the Astoria?
It was bittersweet like anything else, people don’t know this but this is a minor complaint the Astoria didn’t have any lifts in it and back stage the dressing rooms were like 6 floors up so when you forgot something downstairs it was a long journey as it wasn’t the easiest venue to get in and out of but other than that it was great.
Any other venues in the UK lived up to the greatness of the Astoria for you?
I like Sheppard’s Bush Empire
That’s a good venue, its currently closed as they are redoing the roof which collapsed.
Right, well I loved that venue and also the place we played last time where Bon Scott had his last show with AC/DC, I can’t think of the name of it but I know it’s in Camden Town.
Yeah that’s it, the Koko is great.
You have been announced for the Warped Tour this summer, how does it feel to be back on the tour and alongside so many awesome bands?
It’s going to be great we will play our 472nd Warped Tour show starting in Dallas.
That’s an awesome achievement.
Yeah we have done the tour more than any other band which is quite cool.
It has been two and a half years since you released your last studio album ‘Hit The Light’ can we expect any new music in the near future?
We are writing songs right now, we have been telling people recently how we want to put a plan together to unleash the music but there has got to be a different way a way that no one has thought of yet maybe we won’t think of it ever but yeah we are working on songs.
Will it be a new album, EP or singles?
I really don’t know, But I like to think it will be a whole album but we haven’t really got that far yet.
When it comes to writing new music what inspires you and what’s the song writing process like for the band?
Me personally inspiration could happen at any moment you could be driving down the road and then have an idea for a song or hear a song that influences you to want to rip it off. Sometimes I’m just sitting on the couch at home scratching my balls look around see my guitar pick it up and start strumming, I never really sit down and go I’m going to write a song right now.
You have played shows pretty much all over the world but are there any countries you haven’t played yet but would love to play?
We are going to Mexico in August and all these years being so close to there and never playing there is beyond me and its going to be insane when we go there as the kids have been waiting so long to see us, I remember going to South America for the first time we didn’t make it down there until 2007 and it was absolutely mental we played to 4000 people our first ever time in Rio. I would also like to play South Korea and Indonesia.
As you have such a massive back catalogue of music are there certain songs you enjoy playing live more than others? And are there any songs you haven’t played in years that you would like to play again?
Yeah all the time, you know what songs you have to play and then you try and please yourself by playing what you want to play but also there are times when you play a song and you realise everyone took a piss break when that song was on and then re look at the setlist.
Less Than Jake have been a band for nearly 25 years now, did you think you would have achieved everything you have and still be touring 25 years later when you formed the band?
I didn’t think we would make the 2,3 5 year mark and when the 5 year mark happened I was like ive been in a band for 5 years and then the 10 year happened and we did a celebration for that and now it’s still going but no I never ever thought we would go this long.
Do you think you will do something special for the 25th anniversary?
I am sure we will, not sure what but it will be something good and I have a feeling it is going to be over here.
What would you say your main highs and lows as a band have been so far?
Highs are getting to do what you want to do and have a career and get paid for it and the lows are the constantly being away from family and friends so it’s one extreme to the other and a lot of bullshit in between.
As mentioned earlier You are out on the Warped tour during the summer but what do you have planned for the later part of the year?
We are going to be doing the wake and bake which is our hometown show in Gainesville Florida and people from all over the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, USA, Canada, South America fly in and it’s three days of complete insanity we have things planned all day, I hosted bingo one year and last year we rented out a charter bus and we did VIP tickets and we took 100 people at a time on the bus and I was the host on the bus and we went all around the town and I showed them all the old places we played and educated them about the town. Its three shows we throw in acoustic performances we have a party bar on the Friday night when it starts and it completely goes off. After that we have talked about recording some stuff in September as we are busy up until then and then October we are coming back over here and Europe.
One random question we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a Zebra or a Giraffe which would you be and why?
A Giraffe, so I can peak through windows, it would be really creepy.
Thanks for your time do you have a message for your fans reading this?
Thank you for still giving a shit and coming out to see our band play and the UK is one of our favourite places to play if not our favourite.
Interview by Trigger