As one of Fat Wreck Chords flagship bands, No Use For A Name put the now legendary label on the map. Twenty years on, the band is still going strong and gearing up for another visit to Australia. Read on for our interview with main man Tony Sly…
How are you today man?
I’m doing good man, how are you?
Good thanks mate. Where are you calling from at the moment?
San Jose, California… just chilling at home.
Have you done any touring or any one off shows since releasing the new record?
Yeah, we just got home after spending a month in Europe and then two weeks in the US with NoFX. Europe was a headlining run but with NoFX it was just the two weeks in the US and Canada, so that was pretty cool. Now were just gearing up to come back to Australia.
Have your new songs from “The Feel Good Record Of The Year” been going down well in the live setting?
Yeah, it’s been good! They’ve been really fun for us to play and they’ve been getting a good reaction, so yeah, it’s been really cool to see everything pick up speed so quickly!
Nearly two decades into the game, do you still excited to hit the road?
Yeah, totally! It’s still a rush to get up on stage and play, coz you know, watching people sing along to songs that you’ve written is an incredible feeling, so we’re definitely ready to do a bunch of touring on this record.
In 2007 you guys released a fairly extensive “Best Of” collection, a move that is usually reserved for bands at the end of their career. Why was it the right time for No Use?
Well, we had eight studio records at that point and we were going to do an EP for Fat. We had some un-released songs that we kept from the last record and we were going to do an EP for them… but we ended up not liking them enough to make them into an EP (on their own).
Mike wanted some new songs out of us and I was being stubborn saying I want to save them for a new record so he just said to slap them on a best of and sell it for eight bucks. We ended up with twenty-six songs for the best of and I said it really had to be worth it… because best ofs are usually bullshit, ha ha. I was like, if it’s going to be eight bucks and it has stuff to read inside and it’s re-mastered and we throw a few un-released tracks into the mix then it’s worth the eight bucks!
So that was the process behind it really. It was pretty much a contractual obligation… we owed them an EP but we didn’t want to give up those songs, ha ha.
Was it hard narrowing almost twenty years of music down to one record? Were there any major disagreements between yourself and the rest of the band?
Yeah, it took us two months to decide which songs to put on it. We had thirty songs at first but we had to whittle the number down to twenty-six because of the time allowed on a CD… I guess some of our songs are longer than we thought, ha ha.
I think we chose the right ones, you know, they are our live favourites… but we didn’t want it to be like the live record, because that’s a best of in itself. I don’t want to be that band who puts something out every two months and it’s just rehash, so we knew we had to be quick to put out a new record. When we did the greatest hits most of our new record was already written so people didn’t have to wait too long.
Were any songs omitted that you (personally) wanted on the record?
No, I think I got all the ones I wanted, ha ha.
“The Feel Good Record Of The Year” was recently released. Can you tell us a bit about the record, ie: how you approach writing an album’s worth of songs when you’ve been doing it for so long?
The new one was a bit different to our previous records, in that the last record was sort of a continuation… it was more a of a b-sides to “Hard Rock Bottom”. With the new one, the focus was on writing good songs with good lyrics. I just worked really hard at it, for days at a time.
The whole thought process was for every song to sound different but at the same time the listener should realise that all the songs should belong on the same record. Songs like “Sleeping Between Trucks” actually came about as the result of a weird idea of mine.
Originally we wanted to do twelve punk songs and then twelve songs that were only a minute long and that were kind of mellow and acoustic. The record would have ended up being twenty-four songs in length, which was a weird concept, and it was something I really wanted at first, but those twelve-minute long songs ended up becoming the three slower songs on the record. When we first finished them it was kid of weird but we just thought we’d put them on anyway!
Music fans seem to have a shorter attention span these days, were you confident in your abilities to write an album that would get people’s attention?
It’s a hard thing to do and you’re right, especially with things like ITunes. People are just buying single songs so they don’t really view things as an entire record or as a piece of work. I don’t want to say that what we’re doing is a concept record – coz it’s not – people abuse that word and tell people that their record is a concept so that people will buy every song… you know, “you want get it without this song”, ha ha, which is all bullshit, ha ha.
We just wanted the standard for each individual song to be to the point where they are all good!
The commercial popularity of So Cal styled punk has dwindled over the last few years, with bands like Good Riddance publicly stating that their band no longer had a place in the current musical climate. How many more records do you think No Use has left in them?
We’ve got lots of songs left because that’s what I do… I write songs. It’s admirable to bow out and say there’s no place for a band anymore, but I listen to Only Crime and I hear a lot of Good Riddance as well. You’ve got Russ singing and writing songs so it’s going to sound like Good Riddance!
I’ll always be writing songs as long as people still like the band… there’s always going to be a place if people keep buying our records and coming to our shows. At one point, maybe, when we’re a nostalgia act or something then we’ll give it away, ha ha.
I know that some people come to hear the old songs, that’s just the way it is… and that’s ok too, coz that’s what I’d do if I went to see Bad Religion. I wouldn’t want to hear the new songs!
In your time you’ve seen a lot of bands come and go but who are some newer groups that have stood out and that you enjoy?
The Flatliners are pretty good. Teenage Bottle Rocket are another band I like a lot as well… and The Lillingtons and American Steel are quite good as well!
Do you plan on touring heavily to support “The Feel Good Of The Year”, or are you guys at the point where you just tour where you deem it appropriate?
I think on this record we’re going to hit a lot of countries at least twice, so we’re going to tour pretty heavily on it. You put so much work into a record and we spent so much time writing it that it’s almost unfair not to tour the heck out it.
We’re gearing up to do five weeks in Australia and New Zealand and I think after that we’ll hit Japan and then the US, Canada and Europe again.
As you said, you guys are hitting Australia for a huge tour with Strung Out that spans more than twenty shows, what are you most looking forward to when you get down here?
We’re just looking forward to being in Australia again… we love touring there, it’s great! I love riding in the Taragos and the crowds are always pretty good. I think it’s going to be a good show and the bills are so good too!
It’s been a few years since we saw you last, can we expect something of a greatest hits set?
We have a new record but, you know, we have an hour to play so we’re going to play a few songs off the new record but we’ll cram all the oldies in as well.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on stage?
I don’t know, I can’t think of one right now… there’s been so many, ha ha. I guess there’s been a lot but they always turn out pretty funny in the end, ha ha.
That’s all we’ve got time for mate, is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m good, just looking forward to coming back to Australia man… it’s going to be great!
Thanks for your time.