Less Than Jake’s first new release since its 2013 album See the Light isn’t new (well, in the traditional sense) at all: On Friday (Apr. 29), the long-running ska/pop-punk project unveiled Live from Astoria, a live record taped way back in 2001, during the final night of the band’s three-night run at the now-defunct London Astoria.
Singer-bassist Roger Lima tells Fuse that the live album represents a snapshot of Less Than Jake at a transformative time in the band’s career, which had already produced four albums prior to the Astoria run.
“That was still sort of in the beginnings of the band, in a weird way,” says Lima. “We were going full-throttle, playing seven or eight months a year, and any time off was spent working on songs. We weren’t really grown-ups yet! We were just traveling around, living the dream, partying, that kind of stuff. It is kind of crazy that that was before [2003 album] Anthem, and Anthem was arguably the biggest that the band was.
“It was a great time to be in the band,” he continues. “Back then, CDs were something that people still thought about buying. In England, we had a super strong reaction and an instant reaction. It was like, ‘Wow, can things even get any bigger than this?’ The Astoria held 2,500 people, and we played there three nights in a row. That’s not bad from a bunch of dudes from Gainesville.”
Live from Astoria was pieced together using mini-discs from the venue as well as Lima’s own mini-discs, which he was using to document the band’s live shows at the time. The third night of the Astoria felt like the perfect occasion for a look back: “That place is awesome, everyone loved it, and it felt like home whenever we went back to London to play there. It was one that just stood out of capturing the energy of that era of the band,” he says.
Looking ahead, Less Than Jake will be part of an impressive Warped Tour lineup this summer, which also includes Good Charlotte, Sum 41 and Reel Big Fish, among dozens of other artists. Lima says that the band can’t wait to return to Warped, which kicks off on June 24 this year.
“The Warped Tour is going to exceed any expectations any of us have ever had for the Warped Tour,” he exclaims. “I think it’s coming full-circle with its philosophy and lineup and vibe. They’ve cut out a lot of the side stages, the acoustic stages, and are getting back to the basics of just having some fun.”
And, he says, Less Than Jake are about to get “pseudo-political” on the tour this summer—at least in terms of voter outreach.
“On a serious note, we’re not really a political band, but I do think it’s important to have somebody out there saying, ‘Hey, I don’t give a shit what you believe in, but go out and vote to support your thing,’” Lima says. “When we first were getting into the Warped Tour, you would see a lot more of Rock the Vote and stuff like that, and there was some motivation to get the younger kids involved in politics and to express their opinion. I feel like that’s gone away, in a weird way. We do want to have some fun with it, but I do want to give some voter awareness. Go out there and change your world! That’s really all we want to say.”