JR from Less Than Jake talks end of Warped, CT music scene

415. That’s how many Vans Warped Tour shows that ska band Less Than Jake has played. It’s more than any other artist in the tour’s history.

“We’re proud of that,” JR Wasilewski, saxophonist for Less Than Jake, said. “We’ll always carry the flag for Warped Tour.”

With the seminal alternative tour going on its last cross-country circuit this summer, Wasilewski said he’s sad to see the tour ending, but happy about what it represents.

“It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” he said of attending the show for the first time in 1998.

Once he had the opportunity to play on the tour, he said he had the feeling he had “made it,” and he hears a lot younger bands today say the same thing.

“It’s like a bucket list thing for a lot of people,” Wasilewski said. “People are going to miss it when it’s gone.”

Wasilewski also praised the tour for its blending of genres. He’s become good friends with musicians in different music scenes, like Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides, because of Warped’s genre-spanning lineups.

“You realize it’s not about labels,” Wasilewski said of the bands that he never would have toured with otherwise because their genres are deemed “too different.”

Four Year Strong is another band Wasilewski and his Less Than Jake bandmates were introduced to via Warped. The two are currently touring together and will perform at College Street Music Hall in New Haven on Feb. 17.

“It’s like same street, different house,” he said of being a ska band touring with a pop punk band. “Our whole career, we’ve never really worried about similarities in touring partners. We’ve just worried about, ‘Are people going to have a good time?’”

Wasilewski himself is a Connecticut native. For a state sandwiched between the busier hubs of New York and Boston, Wasilewski calls it “the best side-man in the music industry.” Alternative musicians like River Cuomo of Weezer, Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and entire bands like Hatebreed have had successful music careers that started in Connecticut.

“It’s like this weird little fraternity of humans [in the music industry] that are from Connecticut and we all talk about it,” Wasilewski said with a laugh.

Wasilewski’s advice to anyone from Connecticut looking to break into that music scene? Take yourself seriously and practice. He said Less Than Jake practices at 10 in the morning when they’re on tour, which is a bit of a contradiction to the party-all-night and sleep-all-day rock band stereotype.

“If you want someone to take you seriously, then you have to be serious about it,” Wasilewski said. “What we do is a joke, but we’re really serious about this joke.”

Less Than Jake will be playing College Street Music Hall in New Haven on Saturday. Tickets are general admission and cost $22.50.


Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.