Less Than Jake at 30 – Part 4: Borders & Boundaries

TL;DR – Borders & Boundaries is my favourite Less Than Jake album.

There may be records in their back catalogue that sound better, bigger hits may be housed elsewhere, but in viewing albums as a consistent line of thought, this is the band’s greatest success, in my humble opinion.

The name and artwork alone lend itself to the sort of album that you get in a car with, press play and go on a journey. Hell (..looks a lot like L.A.), there’s even a song that starts with the sound of keys in an ignition. Another starts with the line “Got in his car, and he told himself to drive, gotta leave it all behind if he wants to feel alive”. This album is an audible road trip from start to finish.

As I work through the LTJ discography in release order, this is the last that I missed out on the initial release of, and only just. This album came out on October 24th 2000. I would this say this was within weeks of me first hearing the band, but I wasn’t “tapped in” to punk rock enough yet for news of an independent label release to have been on my radar.

At this time I my own life I had just transferred to a different school catchment area. This meant rather than going to the secondary (high) school I should have, I went to one further afield. This meant leaving my circle of friends behind. It’s impossible to know how life might have played out differently had I not made this change, would I have got into the music I did? Would I have met the friends I’d later join a band with?

Discovering Less Than Jake would have happened regardless of this, the circumstances that led to it weren’t influenced by the move and friends from my former school became fans of the band too. I think part of what secured my early love for the band though was getting to share their music with my new found friends, including Ed, who I’d trade mixtapes with. He has me to thank for Less Than Jake, I have him to thank for Goo Goo Dolls (although Ed did later realise he’d heard LTJ years earlier on the Kenan and Kel ‘Good Burger’ soundtrack). Coincidentally, both of those bands have members who collect Pez.

Much of the next couple of years in my own life is covered in the previous post about Hello Rockview / Losing Streak. Following on shortly after that, in mid to late 2002, would have been when I finally came to own Borders & Boundaries on CD. Of all the LTJ albums in my collection, this is the only one I no longer have my original copy of. It was the Golf Records edition, released in 2002, that included 7 bonus live tracks (I’ve not heard these for years but I guarantee I would still be able to recite the dialogue between songs).

Some time after this, my aforementioned friend, Ed, found a copy of the earlier Fat Wreck Chords edition while we were out one day, scouring the second hand record shops in Poole and Bournemouth, as would be a regular weekend activity for us in these days. Unlike the basic plastic jewel case of the Golf Records re-release, this came in a soft cover (a digi-pack?) with a fantastic spinning wheel on the back, that you could rotate to learn your distance from Gainesville (..Rock City) at various locations around the world. I LOVED it and was envious for a long time that Ed has spotted it first. What a find. I’ve never seen one for sale in a store since.

Fortunately this was an era of trading and I can’t remember the exact deal we made, but, as part of a likely disproportionate arrangement, I now have the Fat Wreck version and Ed, I think, has my original (I’m going to check this now). It’s worth noting here that Ed is also in agreement with me, Borders & Boundaries is his favourite LTJ record too.

A record shop in the basement of a Southampton shopping centre now long gone, had Borders & Boundaries on vinyl (the baby blue variant). I couldn’t afford it at the time and regretted it for years after. When the album was re-issued by Fat Wreck in 2012 it actually prompted me to hunt down the original pressing. I took a punt on two Discogs listings and now have a pair of half decent copies of the standard black variant (plus the Fat Wreck repress), but still no baby blue. I wonder if Ed would trade one of the first presses for my original CD copy back?

A few more memories attached to this album:

Long before we were in a band together, Ed and I would put this album on the karaoke machine I once had and sing-along in my parent’s garage, each taking either Chris or Roger’s vocal parts. Suburban Myth worked particularly well for this. To this day I think that song might be one of the best examples of the call and response, dual vocal approach (Less Than Jake’s I mean, ours were likely diabolical).

Much like the time I plagiarised the band A’s logo for my Graphic Design GCSE, I borrowed the line “Faded stickers and crumpled flyers” from Kehoe for a creative writing assignment in my English class. I got an A* for that. (Sorry Vinnie / Miss Thorpe).

On New Years Eve in 2002/2003 I was at my friend’s parents’ party. A lot of adults were drunk and I thought I was quite clever by repeatedly saying “Malt Liquor Tastes Better When You’ve Got Problems” in response to them.

Despite being far from as destructive as the friend of the band who inspired the song Mr Chevy Celebrity, by regularly “crashing on your (my) couch”, my own friend Darren earnt himself the nickname “Mark Cruce“.

I used Bad Scene and a Basement Show in the edit for one of our Forty Two videos (think Jackass meets Trigger Happy TV). I would upload this, but it’s essentially a few of my friends skateboarding into a road sign in the dark, so I’ll let your imagination do the work on that one.

You’d think these stories would be embarrassing, but they’re nothing compared to actually “performing” Magnetic North in front of my family at a gathering that included grandparents, uncles and aunties. I still occasionally wake up in a cold sweat at the thought that this was FILMED (by our own Mark Cruce, Darren) and a copy may still exist somewhere.

Less humiliating, more morbid is my repeated request that Last Hour of the Last Day Of Work be played at my funeral. Getting to see the song live, with Rog on guitar and Buddy on bass, at my 3rd LTJ show in 2004 was epic. I’ve entrusted a few people over the years with the final wish and now that you’re in the know, I’d ask that you help uphold this too.

Favourite track: After reading all those stories I’m sure you can appreciate how difficult a decision this is for me. That said, it’s Suburban Myth.

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