Less Than Jake were formed in 1992, by Chris Demakes
and drummer Vinnie Fiorello while the two attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. The band takes its name from Fiorello's dog. The dog, Jake, seemed to be treated better than the humans in his household so that everything was dubbed "less than Jake" and so the band assumed this moniker. On July 13, 1992, Less Than Jake officially became a band.
Although their influences are varied, borrowing from post-grunge, old school metal, punk and alternative rock, the band wanted to include a horn section in their standard punk lineup. Having recruited Manganelli as their bassist, in 1993 Jessica Mills was added on horn and the band recorded their first 7'' record, Smoke Spot. Soon after this recording and after playing a show at the Hardpack one Tuesday night, the trombonist from the opening band Dig Dug approached a rather inebriated Demakes and Fionello and offered to play for Less Than Jake. After an audition-come-jam session with the band, Schaub joined on trombone and so Less Than Jake's sound steadily transformed from pop-punk to ska.
The band toured the US in a 1979 blue and white Chevy Nomad van, playing gigs and recording a handful of songs. Schaub left the band to travel around Europe with friends so Nuhfer stepped in on sax to fill in the horn section until Schaub's return. In August 1995, the band signed with Dill Records and released their first album, Pezcore, featuring 21 tracks including two covers of TV theme songs. The album was named for Manganelli's and Fiorello's peculiar fondness for Pez candy, making the Pez dispensers an indelible part of Less Than Jake iconography and a feature on their merchandise.
Shortly after the success of Pezcore, Less Than Jake signed to the major label Capitol Records. In 1996, they released their debut album on the label, Losing Streak. The album featured signature ska-punk anthems such as "Johnny Quest thinks we're sellouts," "Jen doesn't like me anymore," and "Automatic." After the 1997 Warped Tour, the band lost a member. Mills left to pursue a career as a high school teacher while the rest of the band dropped out of school to play in the band full time. The band filled out their horn section with another trombonist, purloined from the recently disbanded Slapstick. Pete Anna joined the band in January 1998 and the band embarked on another tour, the Caffeine Nation Tour, with Descendants, Guttermouth, and Handsome before completing the Race Around Uranus Tour with Blink-182 and Frenzal Rhomb. These tours insured Less Than Jake's rise in popularity and that their album stayed in the charts.
In 1998, Less Than Jake participated in the Ska Against Racism Tour before releasing, Hello Rockview; the album included the hit singles "History of a Boring Town" and "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads." Despite the success of the album, tensions between the band and Capitol Records started to grow. One of the various issues was Capitol's slow response to the question of funding for a video release of "History of a Boring Town," while Capitol took umbrage with the band for selling full length albums through their webstore and not through the label. The band recorded their fourth album, bought out their Capitol contract and released the album Borders and Boundaries on Fat Wreck Chords.
2000 saw the band touring with Bon Jovi despite Borders and Boundaries not selling as well as previous albums. The reason for this might have been the more experimental and eclectic sound featured on the album. A departure from their signature ska-punk may have alienated fans, but a few singles still gained popularity such as the anthem for their home town "Gainesville Rock City." Nuhfer left the band and was replaced by Wasilewski. With this new line-up, the band started a 2001 Warped Tour with fellow punk-rock bands Anti-Flag, New Found Glory and Teen Idols.
The summer of 2002 saw the band touring with the likes of Bad Religion and Hot Water Music as they performed in a number of countries across Europe. 2002 also saw a re-release of their compilation album, Goodbye Blue and White previously only released through their webstore. The title is a reference to their Chevy Nomad van that eventually died after numerous engine fires.
Less Than Jake returned to a major label for their next album. Anthem, released by Warner Bros./Sire Records in 2003 is the band's most commercially successful album and featured the hit singles "She's Gonna Break Soon" and "The Science of Selling Yourself Short." The video for "She's Gonna Break Soon" employed the actress Alexis Bledel, famous for her role as Rory on Gilmore Girls, in a room-wrecking display of teenage angst. Less Than Jake took the album on tour with another Warped Tour, this time along side the likes of Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard. Following the DVD release The People's History of Less Than Jake, the band took main stage during the Projekt Revolution tour of summer 2004 along with Linkin Park, Korn and The Used.
The band spent most of 2005 writing and recording, returning in 2006 by joining up with the bands Catch 22, Dropkick Murphys and others for a tour of the US and Europe. A four song EP, Absolution for Idiots and Addicts, was followed by the full length album, In with the Out Crowd, released on Sire Records. In 2007 the band embarked on a slightly different tour, playing several nights in a row at one venue – first in Florida and California and then in London – with each show featuring the band playing an album in its entirety.
Unable to resolve differences with their record label, Less Than Jake split from Sire Records in May 2007. They spent the rest of the year on a Shout It Loud Tour. These shows included a quiz game during which the audience had to answer trivia questions about the band to determine which songs they'd play. 2007 wrapped up with Less Than Jake touring Japan and Australia.
After much speculation about who the band would signed with next, Less Than Jake formed their own record label, Sleep It Off Records, and released the album, GNV FLA, the title an abbreviation for the Gainesville airport code, another tribute to their hometown. The album was seen as a return to their roots, to their signature third wave ska come pop-punk sound. The tour following the album released in June 2008 included playing the major Reading and Leeds Festivals in the UK.
The band's next album release in 2010 was somewhat different, a 16 track compilation of TV theme song covers all performed in less than 13 minutes and including favorites such as the Animaniacs theme song. A year later, the band released Greetings from Less Than Jake! another EP to be sold during their 2011 Warped Tour.