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A Conversation With Vinnie
Samuel Barker
January 17, 2001

Vinny of Less Than Jake (picture by Samuel Barker)

Samuel: To start with, what is your name and what do you do?

Vinnie: My name is Vinny, I play the drums, and generally a collector nerd of sorts.

Samuel: Speaking of the collector nerd thing, I know Less Than Jake has something close to 100 releases, do you try allow people to enjoy their collector nerdness through your band?

Vinnie: Well, yeah. Thatís how it should be. When I was growing up I collected KISS and things like that. You have to, you know what I mean? For the band, itís fun to release a lot of records and for the fans, itís interesting to follow it. I collect Pez and I collect a bunch of other things like that, so I can appreciate the hunt of new things.

Samuel: I saw on your website that a truck full of your gear rolled, did anything cool get lost in the accident?

Vinnie: Everything was a little banged up, but it was alright. When I first rolled up on it I though that our equipment was fucked up for sure.

Samuel: So no missed shows or anything?

Vinnie: No, everything was fine.

Samuel: How has it been being out on tour with Bad Religion? Has it been fun so far?

Vinnie: It is. Bad Religion is one of those bands that I listened to when I was 16. Itís the same feeling for us as when we toured with the Descendents on the Caffeine Nation tour, where itís a band I grew up listening to, and being on tour with them is a cool feeling.

Samuel: I know you guys did Warped Tour last year, any plans to be on it this year?

Vinnie: Weíre not doing Warped Tour this year. Weíll be doing a three-week tour headlining tour of our own, then weíll spend all of June and all of August touring Europe doing festivals. I think in August Iíll be suffering from some bacterial disease from drinking the water in Portugal or Spain.

Samuel: Do bad things always happen when you guys head to Europe?

Vinnie: Well, the weird thing is that Portugese food is really starchy and really greasy, yet they donít have any toilet seats or decent toilet paper. Itís one of those weird oxymorons that are around the world.

Samuel: So youíre stuck with a problem and no way to fix it.

Vinnie: Well, here it is. You have the shits, youíre in Portugal, there are no toilet seats, so here you are, youíre balancing, youíre performing a balancing act, trying to take a shit. Then you go to grab some toilet paper, and itís like cardboard. Youíre wiping your ass with cardboard in Portugal. If someone actually brought decent toilet paper and a toilet seat over to Portugal, theyíd probably become a millionaire.

Samuel: They donít have any toilet seats in Portugal? Is that what youíre telling me?

Vinnie: What Iím telling you is that you have to hover above the bowl to take a shit in Portugal.

Samuel: I guess that is something to add to the list of things to bring to Portugal.

Vinnie: You bet your ass, literally.

Samuel: See, you should make the "Less Than Jake Travel Book" with lists of things to bring to Portugal and abroad.

Vinnie: Yeah, fuck those Fromers people for travel books, Iíll make my own. They donít tell you to bring a toilet seat to Portugal or that youíre going to have to shit standing up in Italy, Iíll tell you all that.

Samuel: Thatís practical reading.

Vinnie: You need to bring, hereís my travel guide real quick, bring ketchup to Europe, because the ketchup there isnít really ketchup, itís some weird faux-ketchup. Bring toilet paper to Europe, donít drink the water, bring condoms to Europe, because they use these weird sheep membrane intestine condoms there. Itís sick. They come fresh, so you have to fish them out of this brine, like a pickeled egg. So there are my two cents. Also, donít get any hookers in Amsterdam, even though itís tempting because theyíre hot. But itís a hooker, you donít want to fuck a hooker, bro! Itís sketchy.

Samuel: At the show here, you talked about writing some new songs.

Vinnie: We have completed our writing process. We have 15-20 new songs, depending on how many we finish. Weíll be going into the studio to record that in the near future.

Samuel: Well, with the touring schedule you guys have, when are planning to actually record everything?

Vinnie: The month of May.

Samuel: Are you releasing this new album on Fat as well?

Vinnie: Good question. We donít know. We havenít discussed it. I canít give you an answer.

Samuel: I know you did the re-released of Goodbye Blue and White on Fueled By Ramen, which is your label, are there any plans to release any new Less Than Jake albums on the label?

Vinnie: There is a possibility of it. There has been talk here and there. We wonít know until we sit down with Mike, but heís been on tour lately, but weíll sit down with Mike and a few other people and see what happens. Itís all good.

Samuel: I know you were on a major label and then went to Fat, is there any chance that Less Than Jake could go back to a major, or is that behind you?

Vinnie: Iíll never say never about going back to a major. It all depends on the deal, how happy weíd be there. Also, if the people were cool. Thatís the main thing about releasing records, people have to be nice and like your band. As lame as that sounds, itís true, for our band anyways. Weíve been around for nearly a decade now, why would we want to go to a label that didnít like our band? Why would we want to go to a label where everyone is a bunch of fucking dickheads, so itís really important for us to be chemically cool with the people who work at a label and have a good vibe. Plus, they have to give us free cocaine and hookers!

Samuel: Thatís always a plus.

Vinnie: Though I will never have sex with a prostitute or hooker, but I know people who will. There are few people I know.

Samuel: I know that you spend a lot of time contributing to the bandís website, do you feel itís important to have a first hand word on what the band is up to?

Vinnie: Itís not really about that. Itís about, youíre in a band bro, youíre supposed to send along information personally, youíre supposed to talk to kids and listen to what they say. Itís stupid, the bands that donít control their own websites are assholes, and theyíre not thinking. You have to be actively involved in what your band is doing, or youíll lose it. Look at Courtney Love and I could go on forever with a list of artists who write on their websites actively. I think itís just smart. Youíre a little more in tune with everything.

Samuel: I saw you did an interview with Buddy on the site, was that to ask the questions youíve always wanted to know?

Vinnie: Doing those interviews is asking the questions that always get asked, so we donít have to be asked them anymore.

Samuel: So itís your way to answer the questions you get over and over again.

Vinnie: Well, when youíre Buddy and you get asked for the millionth time what kind of trombone you use and itís on your website, you shouldnít get asked that anymore. The next interview up there is going to be mine. I think itís so long theyíre splitting it into two parts.

Samuel: Did you do the interview with yourself or did you have someone else do it?

Vinnie: I had JR do it for me. All the questions, when youíre talking about lyrics and band stuff, itís split into two, itís just insane. Weíll do part one of me, then I did JRís, so itíll be part one of me, JRís, part two of me, then Chris or Roger, whichever we get first.

Samuel: I saw on the site that if you ever ran into you at a show, to ask about playing a graduation, so whatís the story with that?

Vinnie: I wonít tell you, you have to ask me at a show.

Samuel: So I have to see you at a show and ask?

Vinnie: Yes, yes. Itís the Ďhey whatís your sign?í for the kids coming up to us. Itís the conversation starter for kids who normally wouldnít have anything to talk about.

Samuel: And we wouldnít want to ruin that here.

Vinnie: Right, why ruin that here? Then kids would know.

Samuel: Then the kids would have no way to initiate a conversation with you.

Vinnie: Exactly.

Samuel: So we donít want to ruin that.

Vinnie: Donít want to ruin it.

Samuel: So how happy are you about the growth of Fueled By Ramen?

Vinnie: Iím stoked. Itís really grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.

Samuel: Is it nice, after shopping Less Than Jake records around for so long to find a label, to now be the guy who gets to choose whatís on a label?

Vinnie: I just like an eclectic amount of music. I donít like the band The Eclectics, but I like an eclectic amount of music. I like to be able to help out. Youíre just giving back what was given to you so long ago.

Samuel: How does that feed the collector nerd in you? I know you get sent a lot of CDs, is that fun?

Vinnie: Yeah, itís cool. Itís also about helping the punk rock scene. As lame as that sounds, and a clichť as that sounds, it really is. Thatís why you put the records out, thatís why you take young bands on tour. You try to help the thing that helped you out.

Samuel: So keep the good karma going.

Vinnie: Yeah, good karma is definitely a plus. And how else could I afford my 1995 IROC-Z. Thatís a joke, I actually donít have a car, I have a bicycle.

Samuel: Yeah, but the IROC gets the whole Florida vibe going, with Camaros and Trans-ams. So you gotta stay true to your home.

Vinnie: I wish I had an IROC-Z. My car is a mountain bike called a mountaineer, which was bought from Wal*Mart for $119.

Samuel: It gets you around.

Vinnie: Fuck yeah it gets me around, itís fucking Gainesville, what do I need two cars at my house for? My wife has one, why do I need one? I ride my bike where I need to go, to get coffee or to look at magazines.

Samuel: Well, youíre also on tour for 8-9 months a year, so itís not like youíd get much use out of a car.

Vinnie: Exactly. Nine years ago I got hit by a car on my bike. Like Chris just said, Iíve been retarded ever since. Probably, I tend to agree with him. Iíll tell you something that hasnít been on the website yet. Next week weíll be releasing our home video that is 120 minutes long that is called Avant-Tard.

Samuel: Is that going to be live footage sent in from people who have taped your shows? I know you still have the open policy.

Vinnie: Well, I looked at all the footage and everything. Everyone can have us playing live, so this video is stuff people canít really find like interviews in Austrailia, us playing on New Zealand TV, little movies and shorts done by Chris and other people in the band filmed. People can come see us live, so this more about the humorous side of us, the wackiness of us live.

Samuel: So you actually put time into this?

Vinnie: ummmm...yeah.

Samuel: Well, maybe not time, but thought. Most bands just tape a show and make it their video.

Vinnie: Well, anyone who likes our band enough to buy the video has already seen us half a dozen times and knows the schtick: confetti, costumes, fire, blah, blah, blah. This is all the other stuff they canít get, so itíll be rad.

Samuel: That is one thing I was shock about when you guys played here, there were no costumes and the skull man was nowhere to be seen.

Vinnie: Iíll tell you why. You really answered your own question, because you were expecting it. Because when people expect it, you have to change it up.

Samuel: When everyone expects something, it does make it seem less fun.

Vinnie: Yep. You canít do things too much, because you become a parody of yourself. So, we brought out TV sets instead and kept everything pretty much ghetto. Who else would bring 9 TV sets out on tour with them and show weird things and colors.

Samuel: Thatís what I thought was interesting, the flowing colors on the screen.

Vinnie: Which was cool though, did you dig the colors?

Samuel: I was rad, it gave the vibe of one of those old lava lamps with the rotating bulbs that changed the waterís color. Very retro!

Vinnie: I liked it a lot, I thought it was cool and original, thatís why you bring things like that out. Because it keeps people guessing about whatís going to happen.

Samuel: Right, so next time they just want know and will be all anxious to find out.

Vinnie: When people show up, then theyíll know. Thatís why people still see us live, itís not the same shit over and over again, itís something new each time. Thatís the best thing to be.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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