Less Than Jake’s Vinnie Fiorello: Touring Ruins Relationships

What’s your process for generating music?
Before I‘d have scraps of paper stuck in my sock, book bag, suitcase, or top drawer with crumples of paper with a sentence or song title. … Now because of technology there are plenty of ways to start to form an idea. When inspiration comes, it comes, and I jot it down. When it’s time to write and think through things, I pick through the pile, get a verse and chorus going on, then I do a bunch of those. Then I sit down in a roundtable with the band.

And then the guys in the band edit what you wrote?
Yeah, that’s called being in a band. Plus, I’m a wordy motherfucker. But the cool thing is that it … starts with an idea and how I feel, and then it becomes a group thing that’s Less Than Jake. And then when the song is done it morphs into a fan thing. So it goes from this singular idea and a one-sided place into a group effort into a larger group headspace. It’s cool.

Punk bands get hammered with the “sell out” label if the achieve any financial success. But like any profession, you have to make money to keep your job. Do you find yourself making choices strictly for money?
It’s a cycle. When you first start a band you say, Fuck it!” and don’t think about the economic side of it because you’re driven by a creative force. Then you start getting more popular and once money starts exchanging hands and … you start to take in money you have to make decisions based on that because you put yourself in that position. You’re sitting there going, “Our van engine is blown.” and we have to find money from somewhere. … But everyone does that. Lots of people get on a train or in their car to go to a job they hate. So … we’ve done things that we know we need to do. But they’ve been few and far between in 21 years and at the end of the day, we’re still in a band playing music for a living.

So as much as your job is different than a lot of other jobs, there are a lot of the same pressures.
Well, the easiest and hardest thing I’ve had to do in done in 21 years with this band is know that when I’m leaving to go on tour that I’m ruining a personal relationship. That’s the basic emotional principal. And I’m doing that for money. I’m on tour playing music for a living and … friends are back home. Life goes on. And it’s weird when I’m come home from tour after five, six, or seven weeks and the dynamic between friends has shifted.