Love them or hate them, TV theme songs and commercial jingles do pack plenty of hooks and skill into a finite amount of time.
The guys in Less Than Jake recognize the high level of craft that goes into these bite-size tunes, and proof of their appreciation can be found on the Florida-based ska/punk band’s latest release, TV/EP (Sleep It Off).
LTJ tackles 16 favorites on TV/EP, which clocks in at around 13 minutes. There are nine TV themes and seven commercials, and each one is track-listed as an anonymous “channel” in order to provide the feeling of switching from one random television channel to another.
According to LTJ trombonist Buddy Schaub, recording a batch of TV themes and commercials was something the band had been kicking around for a few years.
“Once we actually got to the point where we were really going to do this,” he says, “we all just kept e-mailing each other ideas or bringing them up during practice. [Singer/guitarist] Chris [Demakes] came over a few times to my house and he, [saxophonist] JR [Wasilewski] and myself sat around looking up YouTube clips for old shows and commercials. One would lead to another and to another. There are a gazillion choices out there.”
Schaub says the theme for Animaniacs was the most challenging of the bunch.
“It changes key five times throughout the song,” he explains, “and we all sang so many different parts it was hard to keep straight what the hell was going on half the time.
“It was really interesting to see how much musicality you can pack into 40 seconds of songwriting,” he says of the entire TV/EP project. “There are key changes, weird harmonies, half verses, chromatic walk-downs — just so many things you can pack into such a small amount of space and still come out singing every part all day long.”
Following tours of Japan and Europe, Less Than Jake plans to make demos and/or record songs for its next album (scheduled for a 2011 release) prior to starting a U.S. tour in January.
— By Chris M. Junior
Less Than Jake on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Jan. 19: Captain Hiram’s — Sebastian, Fla.
* Jan. 20: Freebird Live — Jacksonville, Fla.
* Jan. 21: Motorco Music Hall — Durham, N.C.
* Jan. 22: The Orange Peel — Asheville, N.C.
* Jan. 23: The Norva — Norfolk, Va.
* Jan. 25: Sherman Theater — Stroudsburg, Pa.
* Jan. 26: The Chance — Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
* Jan. 27: Sonar — Baltimore
* Jan. 28: Webster Theatre — Hartford, Conn.
* Jan. 29: Starland Ballroom — Sayreville, N.J.
* Jan. 30: Trocadero — Philadelphia
* Jan. 31: Water Street Music Hall — Rochester, N.Y.
Photo by Dennis Ho