The 10 best Less Than Jake songs, by their drummer Vinnie Fiorello

Less Than Jake
(Image: © Jodi Cunningham)

As Less Than Jake set off on their biggest-ever UK tour, we asked drummer, chief lyricist and founding member Vinnie Fiorello how the band go about choosing their set lists two decades into their career.

“Here’s the thing about set lists,” Fiorello begins. “When you’ve been a band for this long, it’s a fine balance between playing songs that people want to hear and songs that you want to play, and as long as you can strike that dead-centre then it makes for a great show.”

What about his personal favourites? Which ones would appear in a list of his all time top ten?

“For me, it’s all about the lyric at this point,” says Fiorello. “It’s not about whether the song is high energy or what the crowd reaction is, it’s the lyrics that are in there; they’re the touch point fuelling the machine when I play drums. So my top 10 would be all about the lyrics. And I’m ready whenever you are.”

10. Automatic (1996)

“This was the first song that we wrote for the Losing Streak record. It also happens to be the first song on the record, and it was the first time that it connected with us that you could be in a fun, high-energy band but also have serious topics in your songs. Automatic is about wandering in this automatic state from day to day, from school to home to work to wherever. It still resonates with me every time we play it and the lyrics in the chorus are the thing that specifically hit me the most.”

9. Great American Sharpshooter (1998)

“This song is on Hello Rockview. It was written about a friend and a partner at the time from the old label I was involved with: Fuelled By Ramen. It was his breakup song, but it was the most anti-breakup song possible.”

8. The Rest of My Life (2006)

“This was on In with the Out Crowd. The lyrics are very sombre, but every time we play it live the sing along that happens always gives me chills and always inspires me to carry on playing it in our sets. I don’t know what it is about the song, but the fact that it connects with people in the way that it does continues my love for it exponentially.”

7. The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out / Screws Fall Out (2003)

“This is two songs, really. The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out is just guitar and vocals and the full band comes in for the second part of the song, which is Screws Fall Out. Every time we play it, particularly The Brightest Bulb, it definitely moves me.”

6. Good Enough (2013)

“This was the first song off our last record [See the Light, 2013] and the lyrics are all about faith: faith in what could be, faith in what has happened, and faith in other people. That’s a recurring theme in Less Than Jake lyrics and this song is a good example of that.”

5. Give Me Something to Believe In (2013)

“This is on the same record and still in the same headspace of content. It’s a bit of a different song for Less Than Jake; it’s more laid back and breezy when it comes to the melody and vibe. The lyrics, as the title suggests, are about wanting something to latch on to in the storm – like a lifesaver that keeps you moving along. It hits that good nerve for me every time we play it.”

4. The Science of Selling Yourself Short (2003)

“This was our first attempt at really fleshing out a slower reggae song. We’d done songs like Dopeman and 3 Quarts Drunk in the past but Science was the first time we really fleshed it out. I love the lyrics and the whole vibe is great. The response from the crowd is always astounding as well. It’s a song that really connects with people and that’s an awesome feeling, man.”

3. Portrait of a Cigarette Smoker at 19 (2004)

“We don’t really play this song a lot, but the lyrical side of it speaks to me because it’s specifically about me and a particular point in my life. It’s from the B Is for B-sides record that we did and I like it a lot.”

2. Gainesville Rock City (2000)

“I have to put Gainesville Rock in there. It’s about our hometown, and travelling far away and thinking about your place in the world; how big it is and how small you feel whilst you’re moving through it. It always kills it live and it’s always fun to play.”

1. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads (1998)

“It wouldn’t be a Less Than Jake set without All My Best Friends Are Metalheads. It’s the song that launched us in the UK, and every time we play it there’s that immediate crowd reaction. The lyrics, chorus and breakdown always hit me in the right place. Again, it goes back to that undercurrent of Less Than Jake about faith and how that connects you with other people. That’s 10, man.”

Less Than Jake’s UK tour kicks off on October 3.