It must have been at least 20 degrees on the day of Extreme 2001 in Nottingham; the grass was engulfed in a sea of used water bottles after only the first band of the day but that was the last thing on my mind as I shook hands with Chris from Less Than Jake, the premiere ska-punk outfit from the USA known for having more fun than should be legal and of course those world famous infectious punk tunes.
Joined by interviewers from a student radio station Chris demonstrates how far his mind has warped over the years before the first question of the afternoon has even been uttered.
Chris: Let’s just record on his machine ok? Then let me put this [microphone] in my ass ok? Then you guys later will mix the two recordings and get them put together and you can hear what’s going on in my ass as I’m talking. (Chris then grabs the microphone and continues to make farting noises for a few minutes). The microphone is up my asshole.
Could you describe your sound for anybody not familiar with Less Than Jake?
Chris: We have a hip-hop nu-metal rap influence smoothed out on the r&b tip with a reggae tinge to it mixed with a little David Hasselhoff and Twisted Sister.
Are you qualified in anything, profession, etc?
Umm, I took CPR when I was about 15 at camp and almost bit a girl’s tongue off so no I’m not qualified to do anything.
When your not touring or with the band what do you get up to?
You know believe it or not I started shooting birds. Yeah, I bought a small little handgun go into the woods and drink a twelve pack or so like Ted Nugent, get really pissed. I dress in all camouflage ‘cos you know I don’t want the birds to see me, I come up on an unfair advantage at that point and I go shooting.
The video for Gainesville Rock City has been getting a lot of airplay lately, how do the locals treat you in the town?
You know it’s weird now because most of my friends have moved. You know ‘cos I went to college about ten years ago I was going to school, only went for about two and half years to university and so all the people I grew up with or played with whatever they’ve all moved on, got jobs, they went to school and done something else so when I go home now I just hang out you know? The locals don’t even know who I am any more, I have a few friends I hang with.
What bands you listening to at the moment?
Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, umm… I can’t wait for the new Maria Carey she’s stunning. She’s what we call a cunning stunt.
Who gets the most attention from the ladies in the band?
Our tour manager, yeah, people don’t pay attention to us normally they like the guys in the crew better than the band. God we’re losers.
Rock: better with or without mullets?
Oh this doesn’t even have to be asked, of course with mullets. The mullet is a universal haircut. I’ve been to Japan, there’s a mullet. I’ve been to New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand is like the mullet never land there’s thousands, like it was never like it was an 80’s thing and then it went away for a few years like in America. It’s always there. It never left. Scotland, a lot of people in Scotland like the mullet.
What were your favourite childhood toys and games?
GUNS! This is so funny ‘cos I’m from America, I’ve said to a lot of kids over in Europe and England and I say guns and they get all freaked out ‘cos of the school shootings and what not. I mean aside from the bird joke I’ve never shot a gun in my life, I have no reason to want to shoot a fucking gun, I could care less, but yeah I never want to shoot a gun, any other hobbies? Hmm… I like putting firecrackers in lizard’s mouths in Florida we have a lot of ‘em.
Kind of like Alka Seltzer in a bird’s mouths then?
[laughs] Yeah that’s what I heard, did you finish high school? Yeah. With that comment? Son of a bitch! [laughs]
Your known for your strange happenings at shows, but have any fans ever managed to upstage you?
One time and this is the weirdest story ever and I don’t even know if I’m gonna be able to explain it. (Interview breaks off while the people round the table discuss if we call industrial tape gaff-tape of duct-tape here in the UK). Ok well this silver duct-tape what I’m speaking of. We were going to Daytona, Florida for a show. This was years ago, 1994 and we’re cruising along in our van and we pulled into this one gas station we’d always stop in before we got onto this one highway before we got to Daytona to get drinks an whatever. We get out and I see this guy walking and I’m like ‘holy shit’. He had on like football pads on his knees, on his arms but they were taped on with duct-tape. He was wearing no shoes his feet were just duct-tape. On his head he had a helmet of duct-tape [Chris uses his hands to show that the helmet was about 3x4 foot on duct-tape man’s head.] It was just solid duct-tape I swear, and he was carrying some backpack made of duct-tape on his shoulders and he stunk like complete fucking manure. No shit, you could smell him from across the store and I’m just sitting there watching this guy going ‘I don’t understand this’ so if we’ve ever been upstaged by somebody it was by that guy. Duct-tape man!
How did the whole Pez obsession start?
Ok well that’s a bad question to ask this guy. See that hippy over there with the dreadlocks, that’s our bass player. Him and Vinnie collect Pez, they have a shitload of ‘em between the two and it’s pretty much their passion. Vinnie and Roger both got into collecting them years ago kind of something that started out for fun and then it became a thing of ‘how many can we get?’
I heard on the Warped Tour one of the band got put through a table by a giant chicken, how did that come about?
That was our sax player J.R. he was put on a table and a giant chicken went through him on the last day of the tour in Detroit, Michigan. Fucking went through the table and took him down. Why? You know what, it’s interesting as it’s only been two weeks and I haven’t been home of course ‘cos the day after that show we flew to London so I haven’t talked to anyone about that show and your asking me why but you’re the first person who has asked me why. That’s the reason, we did it because somebody would be sitting half way across the world going ‘just why would you have a table on stage and have someone jump through it on your sax player?’ I don’t know, it wasn’t even my idea, I just look back on it ‘oh there’s a chicken on stage jumping through a table on J.R.’
What does the future hold for LTJ after the current tour?
We wanna open a club in Florida that caters only to midgets. I know this sounds strange but we want everything to be scaled down. I want their cigarette machines to be this big [uses his hands to show a size of about 5 inches], I want their toilet paper to be this big, I want the painting on the wall to be right here [about 4 inches off the ground].
Ever had stalker problems?
Oh yeah, all the time. Donna: stalker, this girl from Philadelphia who’s name escapes me: stalker, Jen from Portland, Oregon: stalker, Max and Leo those two guys: stalkers, Maria from New Jersey: stalker, hardcore stalker. This guy from Philadelphia last tour, seven in the morning knocking on the bus door, our band doesn’t even wake up until one in the afternoon, most of our band. Jeb our tour manager goes to the door, ‘What? Who are you?’ ‘Is the band here?’ ‘Yeah, what do you want?’ ‘I wanna come hang out’. It would be like me, two weeks go by and you’ve completely forgotten about this interview, its outta your mind whatever. Here comes a knock at your door. Your parents go to the door ‘Hi it’s me!’ ‘uhhhh… who are you?’ ‘Oh I just play in this band and figured I dunno, maybe I could go inside your house right now and maybe I dunno go through your refrigerator and look through your underwear drawers. Just because’
Any up and coming band’s you’d recommend?
Punk? Any bands. Oh any bands. Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Saxon, Motorhead and uh who else? That’s it.
If you were Jerry Springer what would your final thought be for this interview?
My final thought would be… Ladies don’t wipe back to front, you’ll get a nasty nasty infection [laughs]