Less Than Jake & Kill Lincoln kick off series of ska split 7″s, ‘Wavebreaker’ (pre-order BV-exclusive vinyl)
Update: The BrooklynVegan variant of this split 7" is sold out but a second pressing with three different variants is available now.
Less Than Jake's classic records helped shape the sound of American ska-punk during the genre's mainstream boom of the '90s, and they're lifers who never stopped touring or releasing great music. Kill Lincoln are one of the best bands within the current generation of ska, and guitarist/vocalist Mike Sosinski also runs Bad Time Records, a label that has brought together so many of today's best ska bands and really helped shine a much-needed light on the genre's current generation. The "third wave" bands like Less Than Jake and the New Tone or "fourth wave" (or whatever) bands like Kill Lincoln have co-existed for quite some time, and Bad Time Records' new Wavebreaker split 7" series aims to tear down the boundaries between ska's various generations, tear down the gatekeepers, and bring all of these bands together. The first split in the series features two brand new songs from Less Than Jake and Kill Lincoln, and it arrives June 25 via Bad Time Records and hits streaming services a week beforehand (6/18).
The split is up for pre-order now, and pre-orders comes with an instant download of both songs. There are three different variants available at the Bad Time Records website, as well as a BrooklynVegan-exclusive small-hole, "milky clear" variant, limited to 100 copies. There's also an accompanying Wavebreaker t-shirt. A portion of the shirt proceeds go to the Anacostia Watershed Society in DC (KL's hometown) and Friends of Nature Parks in Gainesville (LTJ's hometown). Our variant looks like this:
Both Less Than Jake and Kill Lincoln are fresh off releasing great 2020 albums, and the new songs on this split -- "Need Some Shaking" and "Going Under," respectively -- pick right up where those records left off. LTJ and KL are a great match for a shared split, as both bands write fast, catchy songs that fuse together bright horn lines, unabashedly infectious hooks, and real-deal punk grit. If you're a Less Than Jake fan who hasn't heard Kill Lincoln, or vice versa, this split will likely change that. But they're also a good match because hearing them back to back brings out their differences as well. LTJ and KL both make top-tier ska-punk; KL really add something new to the genre and LTJ continue to do the same.
I recently caught up with Mike from Kill Lincoln/Bad Time and JR from Less Than Jake, and we talked about how the bands came to work together, why they admire each other, how this split can function as a source of discovery, the necessity of breaking down generational walls, what the future of the Wavebreaker series has in store, and much more. Read on for our chat.
UPDATE: The first pressing of this split (including our variant) is sold out, but now a second pressing is available with three different variants. Also pick up Kill Lincoln's excellent 2020 album Can't Complain on black vinyl.
UPDATE 2: The split is now streaming.
Can you talk about how Less Than Jake and Kill Lincoln connected and how this split came to be?
JR: Less Than Jake hadn't done a 7" release in years -- I'd been kicking around the idea of doing a split, we didn't know who we wanted to do a split with, and I had always been a fan of Kill Lincoln and I was like, "man I think it's time for us to do a split with a younger ska band" -- even though Kill Lincoln has been around well over a decade, they're still young to us 'cause we're 30! We had done shows with them, and I reached out to Mike and said "hey would you ever consider doing a split release with us?" And he came back and said "no"... then "maybe"... and then "yes." Reluctantly, he said yes.
Mike: [Laughs] Yeah, I don't think it happened that way.
JR: But yeah we're really happy to do it on Bad Time Records, and it became a lot of fun, for both of us I think.
Mike: Yeah, just to get the call from JR was awesome. Surprising to me, but also it was like, "yeah this does make a lot of sense, like why not? It's time to work together." It's been a ton of fun so far, it's been great working with JR, I'm excited about it.
Mike, would you talk about the influence that Less Than Jake has had on Kill Lincoln, and JR, what do you find interesting or inspiring about Kill Lincoln?
Mike: Yeah I mean obviously Less Than Jake is one of the bands that got me into ska-punk. I think I got into ska when I was like 12 or 13, that was the late '90s. And I think the first Less Than Jake album I ever had was Losing Streak. I remember I was on a family vacation and I picked that up at a record store on CD, and I had my little CD player. So I was remember I'm on vacation and I'm not really stoked about it, 'cause you know, when you're 13 and you're on a family vacation you're like "eh this kinda sucks." But I had Losing Streak and I was just listening to that in the back of the car, and I was like "fuck yeah, this is amazing." So that's what really got me into Less Than Jake. And yeah, I mean the influence on Kill Lincoln is huge. You can hear it and a lot of people call it out, and it's there of course -- mixed in with all the other bands I grew up listening to like the Bosstones, Suicide Machines, and all the hardcore I liked like Kid Dynamite and Paint It Black. But yeah, Less Than Jake has always been a huge influence and it's no understatement to say that to get to work with them is a dream come true.
JR: From my perspective, Kill Lincoln is a very hard-working young band. I know they're not young in the real sense of the word, so I feel bad calling them that...
Mike: You can call us young, it's fine.
JR: If it makes you feel good! I wish people would call my band a young band [laughs]. But to me, they're very hard-working, and honestly, they've cut their own path, and -- in the music industry now -- I find that to be really wonderful that they were able to cut their own and create their own scene. You see so many music acts -- in and outside of punk, ska, whatever -- and everything just sounds so similar and so much like everybody else that it's hard to be able to identify who anybody is anymore. But Kill Lincoln has a great horn section, and I've always felt having a bad horn section is the death knell to any ska band. The lyrics are strong, the melodies are strong, it always sounds great. And they put on a great live show. And I've always felt like, in punk and ska -- at least with a lot of older bands -- there tends to be a lot of people that maybe... I've heard the term "gatekeepers," you know? And they're trying to keep people out. I'm the guy that says "fuck you, what gates? there are no gates." And I feel like there's not enough attention being paid to the younger groups that are around now that are playing ska and ska-punk, and there needs to be a bright light shone on all of them. And if we can tie our band's name in with a couple of these bands that are well-deserved? I have all interest in doing that.
When I started playing in ska and punk bands in the early '90s, they talked about "the scene," and what the scene was in the early '90s was supporting your friends, not talking shit and trying to backstab and get ahead. It was supporting your friends and being happy when they do something, even if you weren't doing something. And so I can't change the time, I can't spin clocks back 30 years, but I can certainly live in the now and try to put that aesthetic into the now. For Less Than Jake, that's how we feel and that's how we're going to continue to feel. And if there are other bands that are our contemporaries or otherwise or feel differently, well I'm sorry for them. Sounds like a very horrible way to live.
On that note, let's talk about the name Wavebreaker. Is that kind of a tongue-in-cheek way of commenting on the whole third wave vs fourth wave thing?
JR: Yeah, I think it is on purpose and Mike and I certainly talked about it. And I think it also opens up a series to be had of split 7"s and hopefully there will be other bands that will take the torch and keep running with it. I certainly have reached out to some friends of mine in older bands and suggested maybe looking into these younger bands. Because that's always the question -- I get phone calls from Joe Gittleman from the Bosstones going "who are you going on tour with?" And I'm like, "same bands you're going on tour with." Because the pool for ska for a long time [was limited because] ska was like a four-letter word. You know, like in the mid 2000s nobody wanted to be in a ska band, they all wanted to be in an emo band.
Mike: From the get-go, that name Wavebreaker -- as soon as we started talking, we were like, "that's the plan, we're coming together, we're sort of like fuck the third wave, fuck the fourth wave..." I think we pitched a bunch of names that were like "Gatecrasher" or something, just to break down that gatekeeping mentality, break down those generational barriers, finally bring us together. Something's happening with the younger generation, something's been happening for a long time with the older generation, and it's finally like: there shouldn't be a barrier. So this is just like a starting point. And like JR said, we'd love for this to be a series, get more bands involved. I think there's a lot of good to be done there. So we'll see what happens.
JR: When we were younger, when I was a kid, the only way that you found out about bands -- the internet wasn't really a thing until I was in college -- was you read the liner notes of the CD or the cassette tape and you'd see who they thanked. And whoever made that 'thank you' list... you know, if you made the Bosstones' 'thank you' list, you were doing something. So nowadays I think those 'thank you' lists are kind of gone, people don't really read those things. So now, your way to discover new music is if you're on Spotify and you scroll down to the bottom and you see "other acts that sound like...," and then you're stuck with Goldfinger and the Bosstones and Reel Big Fish, and you don't hear about Bad Operation and you don't hear about Kill Lincoln and you don't hear about Catbite and you don't hear about Half Past Two, you know what I mean? There are fans of ska that don't know these bands because they're old like me, the discovery doesn't exist. I was talking to a friend of mine about this yesterday and once you turn 30, your music discovery goes the way of the buffalo. Because at that point, theoretically, you're probably married, you're probably starting to have children or a dog, so you don't really have the time to try to discover new stuff that you had when you were younger. So this, for us, is servicing our older fans and going "hey guys, check this out!" And we try to keep a Spotify playlist and put newer acts on so it can maybe put a spotlight on bands that should get a spotlight. That's where I'm at with everything about this, just moving forward. There's a community, there's a scene, and it should be supported and people should help each other.
Mike: On that topic of discovery, thinking about my own journey discovering ska, I started with bands like Less Than Jake and the Bosstones and Skankin' Pickle, but as a fan and a younger kid, you learn about those bands but then you tend to go backwards. Then I learned about Madness and The Specials and I went even further and learned about Desmond Dekker, Prince Buster... so like, I do think there is probably a generation of younger kids who maybe found ska through Skatune Network, and then they were like "oh look at these Bad Time bands," and then yeah they'll say Less Than Jake made some great records... but they're still making music! Them, the Bosstones, everybody's still active and still making great music.
JR, when Less Than Jake were a younger band, were there any older bands who helped pass the torch to you guys the way this split's kinda doing with Kill Lincoln and Bad Time Records?
JR: If it wasn't for the Descendents, Less Than Jake probably wouldn't be where we are. I would say NOFX because Fatty was always a big supporter of Less Than Jake. Bosstones - Dicky Barrett is a huge fan of ours. I don't understand it sometimes. Dicky and Joe have always been really good to us. I call the Bosstones my side gig because I do some shows with them when Leon or Vegas can't make it out.
You know, it's crazy, when I was 16 years old, my first band played a show with The Skatalites, and I sat in with The Skatalites. And it's not The Skatalites that you see now, because The Skatalites that you see now, none of them are original. This is Lloyd Brevett, fuckin' Lloyd Knibb... Roland Alphonso's right next to me, Tommy McCook is right here. I'm getting nervous talking about it. And Roland Alphonso said after the show, "oh young tenor, you're a very good player, you will do great things." Fuckin' Lester Sterling's like stealing my whiskey, and I'm like "dude, what the fuck is going on, this is like Bob Marley's backing band?!" You know what I mean? I'm always into the history of things, so I feel like, well I had my hand in the original pot, that's where it came from. And anybody that tells you differently -- they talk about ska music and they don't mention The Skatalites first? Don't talk to that person, they don't know what they're talking about. To go from that, and then to be able to do shows with bands like Special Beat and The Selecter and then to go on with like The Toasters and Dance Hall Crashers and that generation. And now, we're playing shows with Kill Lincoln, hopefully we'll be doing some stuff with Catbite. And I think that that stuff is so important, that people know the history of that stuff and how it all goes. And so I've always felt like if I'm gonna be the hand that goes from the start -- if I'm the connector of those things, I'll be that connector. I would much rather be that person, and maybe I'm never talked about in that kind of way, and I don't really care. Because I don't do these things so people talk about JR, you know what I mean? I do these things so people talk about Kill Lincoln and talk about Less Than Jake and talk about ska music in general. Because that's my punk rock. That's what got me into all the other alternative musics.
JR, can you talk about the importance of making this split a Bad Time release?
JR: Yeah, I think it's an important thing because it puts a spotlight on a label that is doing cool things. And for us, we've been on a hundred labels. And I just think it's important. Originally, in the conversation that Mike and I had, I don't think there was ever a question. I'm like "dude you have a label, let's fucking put it out on your label."
Mike: It's funny, when I would tell people -- people very close to me, people in the band -- like "yeah, you know, JR reached out and Less Than Jake wants to do a split." And they're like "oh wow!" and they're like "what label's it gonna be on?" I'm like "oh, well, we're gonna do it on Bad Time." And they go "wow, really?!" [Laughs.] I'm like "well yeah, it makes sense!" So I think people were surprised by that, but JR, you've been nothing but supportive about that idea from the get-go. And yeah, I'm grateful for the opportunity, Bad Time's been working hard to do some interesting releases -- I've always thought of it as trying to capture this moment in time for ska and ska-punk, and that's really what I think a label can do best: really just capture a moment. You can look back at the discography and say "that's what 2020 looked like, that's what 2021 looked like," and I think it's important to capture Less Than Jake and Kill Lincoln together at this moment. So I'm more than excited for the opportunity.
JR, what would you say to any Less Than Jake fans unfamiliar with Bad Time Records?
JR: I would tell them, if you like what you hear when you listen to my band or when you listen to bands like Reel Big Fish or Goldfinger or the Bosstones, and you're like "where are other bands like this, that exist now that didn't exist in the '90s?", there's this label, you should check it out. Maybe you were a fan of Moon Ska back in the day. Maybe you should check out Bad Time Records because that's where it is now. And I think that that's a great thing. The fact that it's a ska and punk label is fucking brilliant. Happy to be a part of it.
Mike: It's so easy to get music now, but it's so hard to zero in on what you like, and -- JR, you were talking about the Spotify algorithm -- you can't always trust the AI to tell you what you like. So I felt like, when I was starting Bad Time, to put the stake in the ground and say "this is for ska-punk." Like we're gonna do ska and ska-punk and anything even remotely adjacent, just to help people find that music, find it happening now.
And we've been building that community. We've been touring for like 12 years now, and you know, [you tour] around the country and build a network with other younger ska bands and, you know, we know the scene in Chicago, we know the scene in Pittsburgh because that's who you play with when you go there. And I'd been seeing so many great bands through that community and been like "why is nobody talking about this band?" So that was the whole idea behind Bad Time: let's just create a platform, put a name to this community and just get it all out in front of people. And it's still amazing to me that people are now actually looking at it and actually paying attention, because it's been a long time, it's been a hard road. And you know, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the interest in ska was waning on all fronts. But yeah, it's a special thing to have people paying attention to Bad Time and seeing a band like The Best of the Worst, like they've been playing for almost 15 years and they play such a unique brand of ska -- it's so tight and technical and interesting -- and just to see people discovering them now for the first time, it's incredible to me and I feel very fortunate that people are paying attention.
Were these songs newly written for the split?
JR: Yes, recorded during Covid times too. Remotely, for Less Than Jake at least.
Mike: Yeah for us too. This was actually our first time doing any remote recording - we had never done any recording where we weren't in the studio together. And it actually worked out great for Kill Lincoln, you couldn't tell that we weren't all together. I'm stoked with how both tracks came out, I think they sound great.
Is Wavebreaker 2 in the works yet?
Mike: I have some ideas for sure. I think when this comes out -- this is like the prototype, this is like a test. And I think we use this to try to maybe pitch it to some other folks. I think it's gonna go really well, but this is the test.
Mike, what's your favorite Less Than Jake album?
Mike: I gotta go with Losing Streak just because it was my intro to the band, but of course I love Anthem and actually Silver Linings fucking rules too.
JR: That's really nice of you to say!
Mike: Yeah! I actually think it's certainly in the top five if not the top three Less Than Jake records for me.
JR, do you have a favorite Kill Lincoln song or album?
JR: I really like Can't Complain, the new record that they put out last year. I had told Mike when it came out, "I've been listening to your record a lot," and I did, I had been listening to it quite a bit. And I was like "this is...," you know, not that the other stuff wasn't good -- Good Riddance to Good Advice was a good record too, that was the one where I was like "whoa, these guys are doing something." The last record is really good though, and the first song on there, "Greetings From Inner Space." Good fucking song, love it.
Mike: I remember you reached out at some point during the release JR, you sent us like a really nice message or something, something really positive, and I mailed you the record. And just like that little bit of support -- I think he got it in the mail and he posted about it -- just like that little bit of "hey, I got this record, I like it," that meant so much to the band. Just to have somebody we look up to reach out, say something nice, and then actually tell their fans to check it out, that doesn't happen for a lot of us. And it's kinda crazy 'cause we're all playing the same kind of music, we all have the same passion for it. So that gesture alone was super meaningful to us. So JR, thank you for that.
Anything else you'd like to add about the split?
JR: It's the best 7" that's going to come out in 2021.
Mike: The best split between Less Than Jake and Kill Lincoln that will come out in 2021.