Today on Journey of a Frontman, I interviewed the charismatic, dreadlocked bassist for Less Than Jake, Roger Lima!
What are your earliest memories of listening to ska?
I was living in a dorm room hearing Operation Ivy and The Specials. I never knew you could play reggae fast till 1992.
Before you joined Less Than Jake, did you get to meet any musicians that you idolized when you were younger?
There was a punk band in Miami called “Quit” and i loved them. I met the bass player while he was working at Peaches Records and I thought he was a walking god. I had never met any real rock stars growing up.
In your opinion, what are the most important factors and things to know when it comes to stage presence and engaging a crowd?
You need to believe in your music before anyone in the crowd will even consider believing. I need to look people in the eyes at a show and feel some kind of actual human connection. At the same time, you can’t ignore the people in the back sipping on their beers and i like to call those people out and make them part of the show. It’s supposed to be an interactive experience. Play hard or just stay in your basement.
On the band’s upcoming release, See The Light, which bands influenced your sound?
I would say we influenced our own sound on the new album. It is a solid representation of what we think Less Than Jake should sound like. After 21 years of being a band, we have worn out our initial influences and we don’t really inject anyone else’s sound into our song writing. It’s very honest.
Which bands do you want to tour with that you have yet to?
Iron Maiden…oh we did that. Descendents…oh we did that…ALL…oh we did that. Humm a reunited Operation Ivy? BodyJar from Australia…I’d like to expand into the lesbian sisters market, so Tegan and Sara?
In 1997, how was it set up that the band would play its first of many Warped Tours? What was your reaction to being on the bill of a tour that in the past two years had bands and musicians such as 311, blink-182, Dick Dale, Reel Big Fish, and Swingin’ Utters?
We were touring heavily, and got lucky to be known enough to get on our first warped tour. It’s an amazing way to spend a summer, and share those stages with all kinds of bands and artists. We thought we had won the lottery, sharing the stage with bands like The Descendents and the Suicide Machines. (We kinda did get 5 out of 6 numbers)
What do you feel are some of the most underrated Less Than Jake songs?
When we recorded ANTHEM, we also did B is for B-sides. It had songs we wrote in the same time period, but those songs weren’t really produced or thought about much and were off most peoples’ radar. There are a few songs on there I would site, like “National Anthem” and “Sleep it Off”. Also a song on IN WITH THE OUT CROWD called “Fall Apart” I absolutely love, but was kind of the sore thumb on that record stylistically, and I think people that like rock glossed over it because we sort of had this image of being just a “ska” band.
Which of the Less Than Jake album covers is your favorite? What is the influence behind the various album covers throughout the years?
I love the cover of ANTHEM. It was simple and had great detail. Album art conception is really difficult, and we kind of hash it out and go with what feels right for the collection of songs. It is NOT an exact science!
If you could tell your 1993 self something, what would it be?
Go to the dentist more often! Root canals suck and are expensive! Oh, and stay away from the red-head. And the blonde from Detroit. And the brunette from L.A.
Which deceased musician (one that passed away before LTJ formed) do you wish could have had the chance to listen to Less Than Jake and/or see a live show?
Kurt. As a huge Nirvana fan, I feel like some of the live, unplanned banter and show insanity pays homage to what they had going on. Punks that wanted to play well and put on a real show, not just stare at their shoes.