The songs all the sound the same? Not if Tony Sly and his long-running skate-punkers No Use For A Name can help it. The band this month celebrate their 21st birthday with a new 'experimental' album The Feel Good Record Of The Year. Truepunk speaks with singer-songwriter-guitarist Sly from his home in San Jose, California.
You've been at it for a couple of decades now which I guess makes this a true career band?
"Yeah, it's provided me with a living. It's been amazing that I've been doing this for so long and not had to work another job so I've been pretty lucky in that respect."
What's the most difficult aspect of running the band, particularly for such a long period of time?
"Keeping the band together is difficult sometimes. I mean we live so far apart - in all four corners of California - and we only get together when we tour and rehearse for records. So keeping everybody on the same page is always the hardest thing but we always seem to get it done."
This is your tenth studio album, is there a familiar feeling with each album release?
"You feel like you've done a lot of work and at the end of the day you've built this thing you've spent a lot of time on. It was kind of easy because it was a lot of fun doing this record. It was pretty easy to write and record the whole thing. Everything just flowed very freely and the same when we got into the band room to start rehearsing and recording - it just got easier and easier."
Obviously you took the reigns again song writing-wise?
"Yeah, I pretty much did it myself at home. But we do get together and work on the songs a little bit before we go into the studio for the pre-production part of it. But for the most part I do it myself. Usually I just start off with a couple of chords and I'll have a melody already in my head and then from there it's usually a lyric idea. So I'll have three different pieces; one with melody, one with chords and one with lyrics and you take those three and they just grow together."
Does that contrast with earlier records?
"I felt our last record (2005's Keep Them Confused) I wasn't all that happy with it. So the approach this time was we wanted to make a really good record and expand the band's sound without going too far and to get something back that maybe we'd lost along the way."
How did you manage to expand the sound?
"Just experimentation with different rhythms and melodies and stuff like that. And different producers, just different things we tried on this album to make it sound diverse from song to song so you don't feel like you're listening to the same song over and over again. You hear a lot of records like that, songs towards the end just sound the same as the beginning but played backwards or something. I wanted to make a record that sounded completely different from song to song."
Producer Bill Stevenson gets the thumbs up from most bands .. how did you relate to him?
"It was really great! He sort of made the band leave their ego at the door and have an open head about things. It was really enlightening because he has a way of getting the best performance out of you. So what you hear on the record is the performance as much as the recording itself. When you walk into a venue and see and band play - that's Bill's idea of what a record should be like, where all the instruments aren't separated too much.
"I've been a fan of his for years and it was time for a change for the band - we were overdue. Recording-wise, nothing against Ryan Greene (Lagwagon, Good Riddance, Pulley) our previous producer but we needed a change in our sound because we were just lacking in that department I felt. Bill had just done the latest NOFX and Rise Against records which I thought sounded amazing."
Are you planning another solo acoustic album? I enjoyed the split thing you did with Joey from Lagwagon a few years ago.
"Yeah, I really want to put something out. Right now, NUFAN takes up all my time but I have a lot of songs lying around that I'd like to get out there."