Less Than Jake: Over 20 years and still doing it their way

10/20/2014 2:43 AM - Devo

Less Than Jake.jpgLess Than Jake has been in the music biz for over 22 years. Their style of music can be classified as a mix of Punk, Ska and Reggae. While that caters to a wide variety of generations and people, it's rarely if ever heard on the radio. Unless you specifically search out punk stations on satellite radio, it's almost entirely non-existent.

The punk culture is fascinating. The music is passionate, political, high-energy, fun, and can vary between Hardcore, Pop Punk, Skate, Ska, and Melodic. But one thing that all these artists have in common is the love of music and putting on the best performances they can for their fans. Punk is not radio friendly, yet these bands, many of them who have been around for the past 30 years, continue to travel around the world, performing in venues where every single person, regardless of status, race and religion, can sing every song word for word. The atmosphere is like no other with every fan listening to a band that means the world to them.

Originally formed in 1992, Less Than Jake has been putting out music that, not only the fans love, but they love as well. The band continues to be interactive with their fans in person and in cyberspace, and I think that's what separates them from the rest. The bands dedication to their craft and their willingness to pursue their musical dream is very commendable and inspiring for up and coming musicians, and for acts that have been doing this for years.

Less Than Jake performed at Crocks in Thunder Bay on October 16, 2014 with The Interrupters and Big D and the Kids Table and put on a high-energy, fast-paced performance. Prior to the show I had the opportunity to speak with frontman, Chris Demakes. The conversation tackles a broad range of questions, more importantly, Less Than Jake is a band that has a very dedicated following. Not as popular as the mainstream performers that are here today gone tomorrow, they have stood the test of time and can reach another generation of fans through their latest tour.

Please check out some of their performance from that night by clicking here.

The GM’s Perspective: How is Canada treating you so far on this leg of the tour?

Chris Demakes: Canada is treating us as it always has-completely awesome! It’s a great vibe up here.

GMs: You’ve been doing this for a long time; over 22 years. Music in general, has definitely changed. You are playing the music that you love, but it doesn’t necessarily fit into today’s radio friendly target market. How does your band continue to evolve and stay relevant when the landscape consistently changes?

CD: I think at this point in our career, we stay relevant by not being relevant. Relevant is a term that is thrown around as a good word. Relevant is good, but just because you’re a pop icon that’s hot for six months, and can’t sell a record after that, doesn’t mean your relevant. For us, we keep doing what we’ve always done. We take our live show to our fans. We try to release music, first and foremost for ourselves. We try to keep it as real as we can. We appreciate what we have.

GMs: They style of music you play, in my eyes, seems to be making a resurgence. Bands like the Implants are making waves, and bands that haven’t produced anything in a while are back at it. Do you think the style of music you play can be brought back to the forefront, perhaps by a younger generation of bands listening to you or the bands you are currently touring with?

CD: Absolutely. Punk and Ska is a very youthful kind of music. If you play our stuff for someone over the age of 25, they might think, even on the new Less Than Jake record, it sounds dated and sounds like the 90’s. We’ve had kids come out to Warped Tour this summer (13/14 year old kids) that tell us they’ve listened to our new record and had no idea that we’ve been a band for this long. They thought we were a new band. It’s fresh for a young kid. Depending on what perspective you come from will change your answer on that one.

GMs: Over 20 years as a band is an amazing accomplishment in today’s age. What’s the biggest change now from the time you guys first started performing?

CD: The biggest change has been the way we communicate as humans, through technology. The shows are same feeling we had when I first started! Cramming a bunch of sweaty people into a room and playing loud music. The technology has made it, in a lot of ways, easier and in a lot ways, more difficult.

GMs: CD’s have are going the way of dinosaur. It has to be difficult, but you guys have persevered and more thank likely, had to make huge sacrifices along the way with touring and doing what you do. Is touring as glamorous as people make it out to be, or is it more of a job at this point in your career?

CD: We’ve always had the idea that this was our job, even when we were young. When you’re younger, just like anything else in life, things you see and do the first time, there’s a certain excitement that comes with that. It’s different. Do we still like it? Ya. I love it in a lot of ways more now than I ever did when I was younger. Things like not drinking yourself to death every night. When you’re younger you do those things. Now I get up and I feel good, and I can walk places and take pictures and exercise. We still love what we do, it’s good times.

GMs: You don’t hear a lot of people say that anymore. You love what you do and at that point it’s not a job anymore. You go day in day out doing your thing.

CD: Your right. There’s days when it sucks and you’re running a 101-degree temperature, and have the flu. But we’ve never cancelled a show in 22 years. We’ve got on stage with strep throat, broken bones, you name it, we’ve done it.

GMs: Being a musician, you're well aware that certain songs or albums can really affect people. What’s it like when you’re on stage and the crowd goes nuts and singing right along with you?

CD: It’s amazing. You’ve connected with people who are like-minded. Most people that we’ve talked to and played to, are regular joe’s, man. They’re good people out to have a good time, and that’s the kind of energy we bring to the stage.

GMs: With professional athletics, no one can play forever. It’s a fact of life. Music is different. What do you see in the future for Less Than Jake and personally, when you’re away form the band, what keeps you busy?

CD: I’m doing some solo stuff. I’m going on my third tour at the end of December. The project is called “Let’s Go Solo”. I go out and play tiny little bars and have a good time. I’ve also been working on producing some songs for a friend of mine. When I’m not doing that, the band takes up all of my time.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's PerspectiveHe is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective onTwitter and facebookHis full bio can be seen here.   

Indy Ball Weekly Perspective: A new Pirate and the Indy's speed it up

10/16/2014 12:00 PM - Devo

DEVONTEEPLEINDYPERSPECTIVE.jpgChris Peacock becomes a Pirate

Three independent seasons and six teams later, a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates is in the cards for Chris Peacock. It's been a long road for Peacock, who went undrafted out of the University of Mobile and at Faulkner State. His first two years spent in the Independent Pecos League and the North American Baseball League weren't anything to write home about. He went 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA his first year, 4-2, 7.65 the next. With experience you fine-tune your skills, and true talent emerges. 2014 was that for Peacock. He started the year off with the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, winning a career best five games surrendering only nine runs in 36 innings and striking out a career-high 10.9 batters per nine innings. He joined the Wichita Wingnuts in August for the playoff push and went 2-0 in six games. During the Wingnuts trek to the 2014 American League Championship, he posted a 2.70 ERA in four games.

Chris Peacock.jpg

We will have a winner...in a shorter amount of time

The American Association wants to finish games sooner. The 2015 season will introduce an extra-inning tiebreaker to determine winners, if necessary, during all regular season games based on an existing set of rules from the International Baseball Federation and the Can-Am League. Back in November I spoke with Miles Wolff, Commissioner of the Can-Am League. He describes the tiebreaker, the same one used by the IBF that they would use during the season. "Beginning in the 11th inning, the player in the batting order immediately preceding that inning's leadoff hitter will be placed on second base. The inning will otherwise proceed as usual, with each team getting a turn at bat. Should the player starting the inning on second base eventually score, it will count in statistics as a run for the player and an RBI for the batter who drove him in (if applicable), but it will not count towards the pitcher’s earned-run average." Kudos to Indy Ball for again thinking outside the box. It may not be the most recognizable baseball in the world, but they continue to push the boundaries.

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Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's PerspectiveHe is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective onTwitter and facebookHis full bio can be seen here.  





Shawn Hill: The common man defines perseverance

10/13/2014 6:52 AM - Devo

Shawn Hill Canada2.jpgShawn Hill has done everything that could possibly be done in the game of baseball. He's done his part in the minors; he's been a starter, a reliever, and a mop-up guy. He's a Canadian playing America's pastime. He's played for the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays. He's gone from Major League starter to independent obscurity. He will dominate and get shellacked the next. He's thrown a historic 27.2 scoreless innings for the independent York Revolution and has appeared in over 12 years worth of professional games.

Who is Shawn Hill?

Only the most die-hard fans could give you a recap of his career.

He is the epitome of a minor league player that has had opportunities to shine in the bigs, but can never quite sustain success. He's reliable and available to help any team that needs him. Why doesn't he get the credit he deserves? Because he's not the big name superstar everyone looks for. He's never been the power guy that can dominate hitters and he's not flashy. He's your above-average middle of the road pitcher according to "experts". A common pitcher by name, yet uncommon in his ability to show up day in, day out.

Drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Montreal Expos had to have been exciting for a Canadian.  He made his Major League debut for the Expos in 2004, taking the loss against the Philadelphia Phillies, lasting less than three innings, giving up eight earned runs. A 1-2 record, with a 16.00 ERA in three starts pretty much sums up his first year.

Since 2004, Hill has made 44 starts over parts of seven seasons. His best years came as a member of the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, a 10-18 record and a ERA hovering around 4.70 sums up what people think about him.

If you ask the average fan about Shawn Hill, you might get a blanks stare. If you ask me, I'll tell you about a guy that is never going to be a starter, won't win a CY Young award, and will bounce between team to team throughout his career. He will give any team that asks a spot start on short notice and will represent his country.

Hill was part of the the 2009 Gold Medal winning Canadian team at the 2011 Pan American Games. He led tournament participants with two wins, defeating Puerto Rico and Mexico. As a member of the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifier and 2013 WBC, he went 1-1 in two starts.

Toiling in the minors is one thing, heck he performed admirably at every level, posting ERA's under 3.00 multiple times (2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2010). When promoted to the major league club, he was exactly as advertised. What has set him apart is his performance when written off from affiliated baseball. On more than one occasion he's had to sign with an independent league team to prove himself.

In 2012, after being released by the Florida Marlins, Hill became the ace of the Atlantic League's York Revolution. He put together a superb streak, a club record of 27 scoreless innings, en route to a nine-win season, and garnering the interest of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays would sign him as free agent and would eventually make his second Major League appearance with them. In 2010 his first stint with the Blue Jays, he made four spot starts in September, picking up a 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners. 

Following his release by the Blue Jays after the 2012 season, Hill was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers and spent the entire year in Triple A Toledo. In 26 games, Hill won four and lost 14 while posting a 5.51 ERA. 

2014 began with Hill supposedly signing a deal to return to the Revolution. Within days, the Blue Jays, to the surprise of everyone, signed him to minor league deal. For an unprecedented third time, he was a member of the Blue Jays organization. In seven starts between Double A New Hampshire and Triple A Buffalo, Hill went 2-3 before being released and picked up the Chicago White Sox. As a starter for the Charlotte Knights, the White Sox Triple A squad, nine starts brought forth a 2-4 record. He remained with the Sox until mid August, but was released and signed by the Detroit Tigers (for the second time). With Triple A Toldeo he went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 25 innings. Finally, the baseball world was witness to some of his best work.

At 33 years old and with 12 years of professional baseball under his belt, this journeyman pitcher has been through everything imaginable. Amazingly, he keeps going regardless of the situation or who he plays for. Shawn Hill is not a household name, but in Canadian baseball circles, he is the envy of every kid looking to make baseball their career. He's done it and lived it. We could only be so lucky.

At present date, the Mississauga Ontario native is still property of the Tigers. 

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's PerspectiveHe is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective onTwitter and facebookHis full bio can be seen here.  


Indy Ball Weekly Perspective: Game-Winning Jacks and Aces

10/07/2014 4:25 AM - Devo

DEVONTEEPLEINDYPERSPECTIVE.jpgJacobo's extra-inning blast lifts Barnstormer's to title

Gabe Jacobo, a veteran of seven minor league seasons, hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning (his second of the game) to propel the Lancaster Barnstormers to their second Atlantic League Championship. Jacobo, who spent the first four years of his career with the Los Angeles Angels organization and the last three with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, has been grinding out a very solid career. He has never advanced past Double A, but sports a career .285 average and 84 career home runs. Before joining the Barnstormers, his first experience in independent baseball, the former 10th round pick out of California State University Sacramento, hit .146 in 35 games for the Jays' Double A affiliate, New Hampshire.

Gabe Jacobo.jpg

These former Indy pitchers are legit

Independent baseball guru, Bob Wirz, put together a nice compilation of former independent league pitchers, who are now in the Major Leagues (as of September 24, 2014). The list highlights the total number of wins by each pitcher. In all, 91 wins were contributed by these former indy standouts. Detroit Tigers ace, Max Scherzer, leads the group with 17 wins (18 as of today). Washington Nationals' Tanner Roark, comes in second with 15, and Scott Kazmir, who was all but forgotten by the baseball world a couple years ago, rounds out the top three with his 15 dubs.

Max Scherzer2014.jpg 

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's PerspectiveHe is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective onTwitter and facebookHis full bio can be seen here.  

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Myles Jury