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With their tenth studio album, GNV FLA, set for release this month on their own newly established label, Sleep It Off Records, Gainesville ska-punk veterans Less Than Jake aren't showing any signs of slowing down. Considering their success over the past 15 years, there's little reason why they should.
Surviving several lineup changes, including a shift from a trio to a quintet and the general rise and fall of the record industry, Less Than Jake has not only managed to stay on the radar — on both the indie underground circuit or on major tours and festivals — but the band has also helped determine music's next big things. Through their association with the highly successful label Fueled by Ramen (previously co-owned by the group's drummer, Vinnie Fiorello), which jump-started the careers of such artists as Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake has a lot more success at the national level then many rock critics give them credit for.
With GNV FLA, Less Than Jake is returning to its earliest sounds and paying homage to its old stomping grounds. All the songs were written over a six-month period, and the 14-track album can be divided into two parts: The first half addresses heavier issues, while the second is more upbeat and triumphant. Fiorello developed the album's concept, which he describes as roughly documenting the chase of something new.
"I think that people are obsessed with 'the new' right now," Fiorello says. "They want a new car, a new band, a new cell phone, a new haircut. It's the shiny penny syndrome, and it means never being happy in 'the now.'"
Not a new critique, of course. "It goes back," Fiorello says, "and this is where I tie it all in — that GNV used to be the airport code for Gainesville and FLA obviously used to be the abbreviation for Florida, while the current abbreviation is FL. Just like everything else, you know, they changed something that was working into something brand new, because they want to match other things. The same goes for the airport code."
Fiorello's frustration with society's pursuit of "the new" is kind of ironic, considering that the first products to come from Sleep It Off Records are rereleases of four Less Than Jake albums with expanded DVD content. Last month, the band rereleased Pezcore; Goodbye, Blue & White; Losers, Kings and Things We Don't Understand; and the DVD The People's History of Less Than Jake.
Despite the contradiction, Fiorello just wants, above all, to entertain. "If anything, I want people to go, 'You know, we listened to the record, and we had fun.' I just want [the music] to hit home in whatever possible way it can."