Journey of a Frontman

Quick & Dirty with Roger Lima of Less Than Jake

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.

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5 comments

  1. Sally

    LTJ is one of my favorite bands but their stage presence kind of sucks. They have acted like huge dicks every time I’ve seen them. Calling out the people sipping their beers is so lame. Let them enjoy the music in their own way. Making fun of people in the crowd at all is generally uncool.

  2. Pat

    Sally, I’ve seen LTJ more times than I can’t count on fingers and toes. I’ve also met each and every one of them. They are very down to earth and fun people…not dicks. And busting peoples balls is part of the fun and energy of a punk show. Don’t take everything so seriously!

  3. Trisha

    I’ve been listening to LTJ since the early 90’s. I’ve partied with the old band that included Jessica. I’ve been on stage with the band and sung songs with them, on stage. I’ve been to more of their shows than I count. To the comment about being dicks, apparently you never experience the “train spanking” cause that was some of the funniest shit I’ve ever seen at a show. Now in my 30’s, LTJ is “soul music” to me. It soothes my soul as I can relate to a lot of the changes they endured, having experienced it first hand. Until you’ve met these dudes in person, you’d not know they are not rude assholes. After all, they’re rock stars! They are very genuine, whole hearted people who truly do care about the trials and tribulations of life, and thankfully they express that through their music. In the 90’s in CO, they used to play quite a few shows. I could go to one and they’d put us on the guest list for the next show. Of course they weren’t to the level of popularity at that time. I attended their first warped tour in Boulder, CO, on the guest list! Having been out of the “scene” for some time, I attended another warped tour in the early 2000’s in Atlanta, where the age group was clearly far less mature than us old schoolers, and they still rocked the house. LTJ will always be a part of who I am and who I’ve become.

  4. Aaron Litz

    I’ve listened to LTJ since the mid ’90s, and always loved them, but never had the chance to see them until recently (not being much of a public “going to live shows” kind of guy. But two months ago LTJ came to our fair. Less Than Jake actually came to my local, BFE county fair, and I HAD to go. And they seemed like some of the nicest, most genuine guys in the world (and Roger especially stood out as being very animated and friendly.)

    One thing that stood out for me was what the band did with a guy who was standing in the crowd not far from me with his little, maybe 8 year old, daughter on his shoulders. The band asked the crowd to make a space around the guy and his little girl, and had them form a pit that ran in a circle around them as LTJ played a song. That just seemed so spontaneously nice and fun. I just know that guy got a kick out of it, and that little girl looked thrilled and will have that fun memory for the rest of her life, of being the center of attention at a punk rock show.

    (And then some guy threw his sweaty wife-beater up on stage, and the guys said that they had always dreamed of girls throwing their bras on stage, but instead they got some guy’s sweaty t-shirt! So a bunch of girls threw their bras on stage and one of the guys put one on his head, which happened to belong to a friend of mine standing next to me. She got it back later, signed by the band, and she and her husband were just elated.)

    It just made me happy to know that a band whose music I love so much are all genuinely nice guys.

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