If you’re looking to check out a concert that will help you escape reality for a bit, Less Than Jake and Pepper are now on a tour sponsored by St. Pauli, the German football club that stands up against fascism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. I had a chance to chat with Yesod Williams from Pepper and Chris DeMakes from Less Than Jake ahead of their tour, which stops at the PlayStation Theater in New York City on Feb. 17, The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Feb. 18, and The Fillmore in Philadelphia on Feb. 19.
Ohana is an incredible album. What was the recording process like?
The recording process was super organic. We wanted to take it back to the early days of being in a band where you get in a room with your friends and just jam. We didn’t want to piece the album together per se, we wanted to start from the beginning, work through it and finish at the end, (resulting) in a full body of work for a band that’s been around for almost 20 years. Being around for that long, we realize we couldn’t do it without our fans, which was the inspiration behind the album…our ohana.
Ohana means “family”. What does that word represent to you guys—personally and musically?
They are pretty much one in the same. Yes, ohana is family, thicker than blood, a togetherness. Music brings people together, brings ohana together. It’s almost like the chicken and the egg, not sure which comes first…
How important was it for the band to start recording music on your own terms when you formed your own record label, Law Records?
I think it’s important to the music because of the freedom. I don’t think we could’ve made Ohana if we were still on a major label. Our last album was and there’s a world of difference, not in a bad way…just a different time and different place. And the place we’re in right now is perfect. It seems like our ship is on a great path. And on top of us, we get to sign and release bands that we’re big fans of, like Katastro, Darenots, and Kash’d Out, just to name a few.
You guys are on tour with Less Than Jake, sponsored by St. Pauli. What is it about St. Pauli’s message that you want to help spread?
Open-minded fun, fueled by a passion for something they or anyone loves—theirs of course being football (soccer).
What can we expect to see from Pepper in the near future?
New music coming this year, big festivals and a huge summer tour announcement coming soon. Aloha!
Chris DeMakes/Less Than Jake:
“Things Change” is Less Than Jake’s first single out in a few years. What do you hope people take away from that song?
That we still write great songs!
What is it about the connection between the members of the band that have helped keep LTJ thriving?
We all share the same vision and passion as the day we began.
In your opinion, how has music changed since you first started out on the scene?
You used to have to buy music.
You guys are on tour with Pepper, sponsored by St. Pauli. What is it about St. Pauli’s message that you want to help spread?
German football in the U.S.—let’s do this!
What can you tell us about Sound The Alarm, the album you released this month?
It’s seven songs of blistering ska punk by five guys who get better looking with age—depending on who you talk to!
Check out Less Than Jake and Pepper at the PlayStation Theater in New York City on Feb. 17, The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Feb. 18, and The Fillmore in Philadelphia on Feb. 19. For more information, go to lessthanjake.com and pepperlive.com.