Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Jun 14th 2012 11:00AM by Lonny Knapp
No Use For a Name
Over the band's 25 year career, NUFAN has released nine studio albums, survived numerous line-up changes, weathered musical fads, and developed a more melodic sound all without sacrificing an ounce of grit.
In anticipation of the band's NXNE appearance at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, Spinner chatted with Tony Sly -- the band's prolific songwriter and only original member -- about punk rock workplace injuries, his folk side, and how sharing a stage with Bad Religion turns him into an awkward teenage fanboy.
Back troubles recently landed you in the hospital. How are you feeling?
Tony Sly: It's a herniated disc on my cervical spine. I'm in pain all the time and that sucks. I've been getting epidural shots, seeing a chiropractor and I'm in physical therapy. It's all a bit much, and a bit depressing.
Wow, it sounds serious. Are you still able to perform at NXNE?
For sure. I'll take a little something to ease the pain, have a few drinks, and just get up and play the show.
Jumping around with a guitar strapped to your back can't help the situation. Is this a workplace injury?
Yes, it's a degenerative injury from playing guitar in a punk band. Jumping around like an idiot on stage is fine when you are in your 20s, but when you get into your 30s and 40s it really takes it toll.
A lot of my friends have shin splints from jumping up and down on stage, and Fat Mike, [NOFX bassist and vocalist] has major back problems and has even played a few shows lying on a couch.
Health-wise, it's been a tough few years for your band. In 2010, bassist Matt Riddle came down with severe pancreatitis, and nearly died. How's he doing?
Well, he doesn't have a pancreas any more, and he's doing better. At first he loss a ton of weight, but now he's gained some of it back and he looks really good. He was in the hospital for three months, and they sliced him down the middle, but he's more able than I am right now. On stage, he's jumpin' around and shit and I'm just standing there.
No Use For a Name built a reputation as a hard-partying band. Considering these recent health issues, and that band members are now in their 40s, have you guys mellowed out?
We were wild and we used to do ridiculous things. I remember throwing TVs out of tour buses. Now, it's more civilized.
I realized at one time, that I was drinking at every single show. I mean, regular people don't do that. Your liver can't take that much alcohol for that many years.
Over the years, NUFAN has had many members. As the only original member, have you ever considered breaking up the band and retiring the name?
Yes. I used to wonder when was it going to end, and now I hope it never does. It would take a lot for this band to break up. Besides, bands that break up usually get back together after a couple of years anyway.
The band formed a quarter of a century ago. How has your approach to the music industry changed over the years?
I've got kids, so, I take things more seriously. it's become more of a job than a joke. We're the same band, and I think we have the same goals as we did back then. It's pretty routine -- make a record, go on tour.
Your last two releases, 12-Song Program and Sad Bear are stripped-down solo records. What prompted you to pick up an acoustic guitar and become a punk rock Bob Dylan?
On The Feel Good Record of the Year, there are a few mellower tunes that probably should have been on my solo record. I was already starting to write that way. At that point, I had to divide songs between my solo stuff and No Use for a Name. I knew I couldn't make a whole record of folky sounding stuff and call it No Use for a Name 'cause people would kill me.
How does writing as a solo artist compare to writing for NUFAN?
No Use for a Name songs are more layered and complex. Writing a No Use record is a big deal and everything is really scrutinized. Writing a songs on acoustic guitar is much more simple for me.
NUFAN hasn't released a record since 2008's The Feel Good Record of the Year. Are you working on new material?
I really want to make a record with the new line-up because I'm excited about the sound, and we need a record to go on tour. If you keep touring the same places and playing the same music over and over again, it gets monotonous and you're milking the fans.
At this year's NXNE you're on a bill with Bad Religion. That band had a hand in creating that whole So-Cal punk scene, and is obviously a major inspiration. What's it like to share a stage with your idols?
They're probably my favourite band of all-time, and they're my number one influence. So when I look at those guys, and hear those songs, it brings me back to when I was 15 years old and rushing out to buy their latest album on the day it came out.