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DS Exclusive: No Use For A Name’s Rory Koff on “Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers,” Tony Sly’s legacy, and upcoming NUFAN tributes

Last Friday, No Use For A Name teamed up with their longtime label home, Fat Wreck Chords, for the release of Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers. If the release somehow slipped under your radar, the first thing you should take note of is that it’s a collection of a large number of the covers that the band recorded throughout their twenty-plus year career, especially those that didn’t make it onto one of their eight studio full-lengths. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is that it’s the first release of No Use For A Name material since the passing of their iconic frontman Tony Sly just a hair over five years ago.

To mark the occasion, Dying Scene caught up with NUFAN’s founding drummer Rory Koff for a lengthy, good-hearted interview over the phone last Sunday afternoon. And while we covered a lot of ground in a our rapid fire conversation — Koff has more than a little bit of a “shot out of a cannon” nature to him — the focal point that the boomerang that was our conversation continually returned too was, as you might imagine, the legacy of his fallen friend and former bandmate. And that’s for good reason. Koff, who currently lives and owns two businesses in the Lake Tahoe area of California, started No Use in 1986 alongside Chris Judge and longtime bassist Steve Papoustis; Sly joined up three years later and together he and Koff remained the two constant core members of the band for more than two decades.

He was really like a brother, almost literally, because I spent so much time with him,” says Koff. In a lot of ways, we’ve become seemingly desensitized to musicians, especially frontmen, leaving us all too soon. Occasionally one of those deaths stings a little more than the others, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Tony Sly. For a lot of us, Sly’s death was the first time — at least since Brad Nowell’s passing in 1996 — that a major voice from our formative musical years had passed on. The pain was real, and palpable, and still lingers half a decade later. Everyone has friends that have passed away, but when someone leaves an impact on a lot of people, it intensifies a little bit. For me,” says Koff, “Tony’s passing affected me differently. Maybe because I spent twenty years in hotels with him and went everywhere together and sat next to him on planes and knew his family and knew his wife’s family and knew his kid. We were so close. It weighed on me a lot more than other people that I’ve known that have passed away.”

Koff, it should probably be pointed out, took a break from all things No Use For A Name in early 2011, after a quarter-century of touring and recording. There’s a bit of hesitation in Koff’s voice when he reflects on his decision to step away, particularly with the hindsight knowledge that Sly would be gone a year-and-a-half later. The timing…boy, my timing…” Koff hesitates, taking a reflective pause before continuing in rapid-fire mode. “(Call it) my hiatus, call it whatever you want to, but I just needed a break. I had never gotten a break. Twenty-seven years of being in a band I never had more than a full month’s time away from those guys. It was so intense, and so much happened and came to a head, and it wasn’t anything personal and it wasn’t like an argument happened and it wasn’t any one thing. I just needed a break. I think everyone needed a break. But Tony just wanted to keep it going. I just needed a break.” Astute followers of NUFAN will probably recall that the band’s most recent addition, guitar player Chris Rest (also of Lagwagon fame) was still the a new recruit. More importantly, their bass player, Matt Riddle, had been hospitalized around that time for pancreatitis, meaning that the band was in a state of real flux. “I just kept saying “what’s the rush? Matt’s in the hospital, what’s the rush?” And he’s like “well if you’re not gonna do it, we’ll find somebody else.” And I said “well, I’m not going to do it because we don’t need to.” And that was it.”

The two would continue to talk and remain friendly, but wouldn’t play together again. Sly, of course, broadened his presence as a touring singer/songwriter, putting out two stellar solo album (2010’s Twelve Song Program and 2011’s Sad Bear“) in addition to a couple of splits with Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape and a fun collaborative album with Cape, Jon Snodgrass and Brian Wahlstrom under the Scorpios moniker over what would turn out to be the last few years of his life. Five years on, Koff has difficulty listening to some of No Use’s catalog, and has particular trouble with Sly’s solo material. I can’t listen to his solo stuff. I may never listen to it again. It’s way too gnarly. The subject matter is so very heartfelt. It’s tough…” he says, trailing off again. “More than anything is that Tony’s vocals haunt me in an eerie way. It’s like…fuck…Tony is so present in my life sometimes and yet so not present. It’s a really bizarre thing. I’m not the only one, you can talk to the other guys in the band, and they’ll have similar situations. It still doesn’t seem real, because it’s so intense, and it shouldn’t be like that.”

It seemed like Tony Sly’s voice was everywhere in this scene for a while, and then, all of a sudden, it was gone. The death of a particularly beloved and thoughtful songwriter in the midst of a prolific period of his life stings for most parties involved, but doesn’t cloud the legacy he left in his wake. Fans and friends in the NUFAN circle continued to look to his catalog for support. And while Sly had a way of channeling some really heavy, intense feelings, he was also an awful lot of fun. The band recorded more than their fair share of cover songs, some of which ended up on studio albums, some of which appeared only on random compilations, and some of which never really saw the light of day.

Until now, of course. Over the last year or so, work started on a compiling all of No Use’s material in a variety of different forms. The first release to see the light of day is, of course, a collection of a baker’s dozen of the cover songs No Use recorded that didn’t appear on one of their studio albums. That means no “Redemption Song,” no collaboration with Cinder Block on The Pogues’ classic “Fairytale Of New York.” But don’t worry, there’s plenty of fun stuff to go around. “It actually came together really easy,” as Koff tells it. “Fat Mike, I knew, wanted to do it. He knew that we had a bunch of songs and he asked if there were any songs that we were missing. We kept searching and kept looking, because we just knew there was more stuff, but it had to fit the criteria of not making it onto an album. With the exception of that, it was all pretty easy…There wasn’t a whole lot to it other than just keeping it simple and fun and not doing too much.” While it doesn’t mean new, previously-unreleased No Use For A Name material, it does at least give fans a chance to hear Tony Sly’s voice and guitar playing again in a release that’s fun and not overly heavy (though the cover of Sublime’s “Badfish” is more than a little haunting in hindsight).

Given that the title of the covers compilation includes “Vol. 1” in the title, it’s more than a little obvious that there’s more in store. Koff opened up and gave us a hint of what’s to come. He’s helping Fat Wreck with a still-unannounced project concerning the No Use For A Name legacy that’s much larger in scale, and will hopefully see the light of day in the early part of 2018. Following that, if all goes according to plan, is an equally cool project — and equally major effort.

Koff’s brother, you see, is a documentary filmmaker. Together, they’ve teamed up to compile a film chronicling the history of No Use For A Name. We started working on it before Tony passed,” says Koff. After a bit of an obvious cooling-off period, the brothers Koff “decided to get it rolling again two years ago, and we put a ton of effort into it. We’ve got like 50 or 60 interviews. We’ve been digging up tapes for years, we’ve got almost everything we need.” The two are in the process of whittling hours and hours worth of material down to 70 usable and compelling minutes. What will hopefully follow is a sort of No Use And Friends reunion in a few select locations in order to give the two aforementioned projects — and the band’s legacy — the sort of fun-filled celebration they deserve. “I have grand visions of doing a two-week tour with the old members and getting one certain guest singer and doing all this stuff, but I’m realizing that there’s other people that have things coming out and there’s no way have everyone do two weeks,” says Koff. And while the grand visions may not come to fruition, that doesn’t mean there’s not a pretty awesome Plan B in the works. “I’m going to try to do two weekends and see if I can get my dream lineup together. Everyone said they’d be interested, but getting everyone’s weekends to line up is another story!”

Head below to check out the full text of our interview (albeit a little bit condensed for clarity’s sake). As indicated above, we cover an awful lot of ground, from the history of the band and their recording process to the origin of a lot of the covers involved to…bailing hay with Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman?!? We really like this one, and we think you will too.



No Use For A Name stream album of rare cover tunes


No Use For A Name fans, here comes the perfect soundtrack for your summer – a stream of the band’s album Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers. Check it out below! If you don’t rock out to “Turning Japanese”, I don’t understand you.

Few bands have the impact that No Use For A Name had. They developed a bouncy, melodic style of songwriting that resonated with millions of people across the world. NUFAN’s sound ranged from the early hardcore/thrash influenced punk rock of Incognito and Don’t Miss The Train to the melodic power-pop driven punk of Hard Rock Bottom.

NUFAN was truly a band that everyone could find something to love in their catalog, and a band I hold dear to my heart. I still love Tony’s unique voice, and the incredible energy of the band that made those songs feel alive.

The band’s storied career was ultimately cut short by the tragic passing of frontman and guitarist Tony Sly in 2012. NUFAN’s final record, The Feel Good Record of the Year was released in 2008 on Fat Wreck.



Stream No Use For A Name’s cover of “Hybrid Moments” (Misfits) off upcoming “Rarities Vol 1: The Covers” album

On August 11th Fat Wreck will be releasing “Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers”, a 13 track compilation of theNo Use For a Name‘s covers recorded between 1996 and 2005. Bands covered include Social Distortion, The Misfits, The Vapors, The Pogues, KISS, and naturally, the theme from “The Munsters.”

Get yourself a taste by streaming NUFAN’s cover of “Hybrid Moments” by Misfits below.

This will be No Use’s third posthumous release since frontman Tony Sly passed away in 2012, following a reissued version of their best-of album All the Best Songs and an unreleased demos 7-inch.



Fat Wreck to release No Use For a Name covers compilation

Everyone (that’s awesome) knows that there is no such thing as too much No Use For a Name. Fat Wreck has assembled a 13 track compilation of the band’s covers that were recorded between 1996 and 2005. Bands covered include Social Distortion, The Misfits, The Vapors, The Pogues, KISS, and naturally, the theme from “The Munsters.”

The album will be released on August 11th on CD, vinyl, and digital.

Depeche Mode, Sublime, Cheap Trick, and showtunes: covers on this album, or my playlist while crying myself to sleep with my cats after a six pack alone on a Saturday night? Check out the track list here to find out!



Fat Wreck announces No Use For A Name demos 7″

The good people at Fat Wreck Chords have the latest installment in their Original Demos. Set to release on May 5th, the 7″ will feature previously unreleased demos of No Use For A Name‘s “Justified Black Eye” and “Sidewalk” which were found on 20-year-old reels in Fat’s tape archive.

Head over here to pre-order the 7″.

This will be No Use’s second posthumous release since frontman Tony Sly passed away in 2012. They last released a reissued version of their best-of album All the Best Songs.



Live Video: No Use and Friends at Groezrock 2016

Fat Wreck Chords has uploaded the entire performance of No Use and Friends — a tribute band featuring the surviving members of the legendary California punk band No Use for a Name — at this year’s edition of Groezrock in Belgium. You can check it out below.

No Use for a Name’s lead singer Tony Sly died on July 31, 2012 at the age of 41, and the band split up shortly after his death.



HD Video: Jason Cruz and Fat Mike join Hi-Standard to cover No Use For A Name

So this is pretty cool. A couple days ago a high def video surfaced on the web of a Hi-Standard show in Japan in which Jason Cruz of Strung Out and Fat Mike of NOFX joined the Japanese punk legends on stage to pay homage to Tony Sly in the form of a couple No Use For A Name covers. Jason sang “Soulmate” while Mike did “Justified Black Eye”. The video and audio recording is great but the covers themselves might leave some room for improvement. Either way, it’s cool to watch so check it out below.



Groezrock 2016 makes final lineup additions

Groezrock 2016 is just two weeks away, and the final lineup has been locked in. The last three bands added to the bill for this year’s edition of the Belgian punk festival are No Use For A Name & Friends, WE’REWOLVES, and Caliban.

Festival organizers had this to say about what attendees can expect from No Use & Friends:

“Tony Sly made the greatest songs. His band, No Use For A Name, was a punk rock powerhouse we unfortunately had over only once in the history of GROEZROCK. Tony was also an extremely nice and lovable guy and when he suddenly passed away, he left behind a beautiful family, a great musical legacy and a lot of friends! These friends are now teaming up with former No Use musicians Matt, Rory, Dave and Scott, to bring you this unique and exclusive show. All the best No Use songs, played by No Use, sung by Tony’s friends, and you! It’s not going to get more special than this.”

These bands join an already awesome lineup, featuring names like RancidDillinger FourSum 41Dag NastyMe First And The Gimme GimmesThe Bennies, and many others. More info on Greozrock 2016, as well as tickets, can be found here.



Video: NOFX play new song about Tony Sly

During their show at SXSW last week, NOFX broke out a brand new song about Tony Sly (R.I.P.) for the first time. Someone in the crowd was nice enough to post a video of them playing the song on YouTube, and you can check it out below.

The band didn’t say what the title of the song was, or whether it would be featured on their upcoming album. All we currently know about the follow-up to 2012’s Self Entitled is that it’ll be out “sometime soon,” so keep you eyes peeled for more info.

NOFX will also be releasing a new 7″ titled Sid & Nancy this Record Store Day. More details on that are available here.

Update: One of our readers, William Prewitt, has told us that the band’s set list for this show referred to the song as “I’m Sorry, Tony.”



YOTAM releases video for “Tony Sly” off of recent album “California Sounds”

Useless ID frontman YOTAM has released a video for his song “Tony Sly”; check it out below.

The song comes off of his album “California Sounds” which was released last October via Hardline Entertainment. This is his second solo album, and if you want to give it a listen you can click here to stream it.

In case you were wondering, Tony Sly was the frontman of No Use For A Name, and the two have some history together. This is what YOTAM had to say about his idol:

“I learned a lot from Tony Sly over the years when my band Useless ID toured with No Use For A Name and when I worked with Tony on songs so this song is my thank you to Tony who shaped me musically from the first time I heard No Use so many years ago.” 



Album Review: No Use For A Name “All The Best Songs” (reissue)

Fat Wreck Chords first released No Use For A Name’s All The Best Songs back in 2007. One more full-length album followed before the tragic passing of front man Tony Sly in 2012, and the official disbandment of No Use For A Name. In numerous “Fat Wrecked for 25 Years” interviews, label co-owner Fat Mike repeatedly referred to Tony Sly as the best songwriter in the Fat Wreck Chords family. With the re-release of All The Best Songs, now to include songs from the final album, Fat Wreck Chords continues to show their devotion to one of their most important and beloved bands in the history of the label.

I wasn’t a fan of this release in 2007 because I was sure there was more music to come. And I was right, even if only by an album. Now that the band has officially come to an end, depressing as that may be, a retrospective album of the band’s entire catalogue is appropriate. All The Best Songs is a worthy representation, if not entirely comprehensive; despite being billed as the “definitive collection” of the band’s 27-year career, missing are songs from NUFAN’s first two albums, Incognito and Don’t Miss the Train, though given the collection’s title, perhaps that is by design.

The great thing about “Best Of…” albums by bands that had little, if any, mainstream success is that it is the band and the fans that, over time, determine which songs are the best, rather than MCA, Sony, or another major record label giant pre-determining ahead of time which songs will be played on the radio. For example, “21 Guns” reached no. 22 on the charts, though it wouldn’t make my personal Green Day playlist.

No Use For A Name did have genuine radio hits – “Soulmate” (1995) received air time on MTV, and “Coming to Close” (1999) was better than most modern rock singles of the year. The hits are all here, but they’re not going to fill out a 28-song greatest hits album, so the remaining twenty-some-odd tracks are filled with songs the band and their fans have organically determined over the years to be the best.

If you are new to No Use For A Name, and don’t have the means to purchase their entire catalogue, then this is the perfect place to start. If, however, you are like me and already own everything NUFAN has put out, then buying All The Best Songs may seem unnecessary. I can make my own mix, and there are roughly a half-dozen songs I would have left off of this disc in favor of others (i.e. “Friends of the Enemy” is inexplicably not included). Furthermore, the two exclusive songs from the 2007 version – “History Defeats” and “Stunt Double” – have been taken off for the reissue. Still, I offer three reasons why this album is worth buying:

  1. If you’re stuck in the 20th century, like I am, and you have your No Use For A Name albums neatly organized and displayed on a rack in full view, how can you live with yourself knowing that the collection is incomplete?
  2. Also for the hard copy fans: the liner notes are fantastic, and somewhat different from the original release. There is a sentence or two on every song, and write-ups by long-time band members, former members, and even drummer Rory’s mom!
  3. The songs have all been remastered. Remastering differs from remixing in that remastering only improves the sound quality without actually changing the song. For example, if I was making my own No Use For A Name playlist, songs off of 2008’s The Feel Good Album of the Year are much louder next to songs off of 1995’s Leche Con Carne. That is annoying, but, among other things, remastering solves that problem.

 

I loved No Use For A Name and I still consider them one of my all-time favorite bands. I’m clinging to the hope that there is previously unreleased material lying around that can be compiled for a future B-sides and Rarities album. I don’t want this to be the end. If it is, though, All The Best Song is a fitting send-off and tribute of the legacy left by No Use For A Name.

4 /5 



Fat Wreck to re-release No Use For A Name’s ‘All the Best Songs’

The fine folk over at Fat Wreck Chords have announced that they will be re-releasing No Use for a Name‘s 2007 compilation album All the Best Songs with an updated track list to include songs from NUFAN’s final album. Here’s a direct quote from the label:

“[…]of course, the band came to an end after the tragic passing of their singer and songwriter, Tony Sly, but not before releasing what would be their final album, the resurgent and critically acclaimed The Feel Good Record of the Year. So in order to fully encapsulate the band’s career on FAT, All the Best Songs has been thoughtfully updated to include tracks from that 2008 album.”

The updated edition of All the Best Songs will be released on December 11, 2015. You can find the track list (and order information once it’s available) here.



Live: No Use for a Name at D-Tox Rockfest – Soulmate (last show with Tony Sly)

Raw Cut Media have uploaded a live video of No Use for a Name playing their song “Soulmate” at D-Tox Rockfest in Quebec back in 2012. This was Tony Sly’s final show with the band.

You can take a look at the video below.



No Use and Friends added to Fat Wreck Chords 25th anniversary show

And the announcements keep coming (not like we’re complaining or anything) for the Fat Wreck anniversary show. The label has just announced the appearance of No Use and Friends. What is No Use and Friends you may ask? The remaining members of No Use For a Name will be performing with various members of the Fat Wreck roster performing lead vocals in honor of Tony Sly. The label issued the following statement:

We at FAT have been so excited putting together our 25 year anniversary tour. It really is an epic year, and a stellar celebration… still, something is missing. It just doesn’t seem right for us to party without one of our founding FAT bands. We’ve managed to wrangle Propagandhi, Tilt, and Bracket, but we are left with a hole in our heart when it comes to No Use For a Name. FAT’s history is so closely intertwined with No Use For a Name, we knew we had to come up with some way to include them in our celebration. Of course, no one can replace our dear departed friend Tony Sly, but why not gather NUFAN alumni, Matt Riddle, Rory Koff, Dave Nassie (and more) and invite an amazing cast of FAT band members to sing lead vocals? We’re calling it No Use and Friends, and it’s a way to celebrate all that No Use For a Name has meant and still does mean to our label. Let’s make sure that No Use knows how much we love them, and how important they are in FAT’s history. Check them out Sunday, August 23rd, in San Francisco… it’s probably your last chance. 

The Fat Wreck 25th anniversary show will be taking place on August 22nd and 23rd in San Francisco, CA. Check out the full lineup here.



Matt Riddle (Face To Face, No Use For A Name) announced as new bassist for Implants

Well, this is probably the most awesome story we’re gonna post all week! California skate punk super-group Implants just got a little more super, announcing that Matt Riddle (who you may know as the original bassist for Face To Face, or from his time with No Use For A Name, or Pulley) is their new bassist! He will make his debut as a member of Implants on March 21st at Brick By Brick in San Diego.

Riddle will be filling the shoes of former bassist Chris Del Rio, who recently parted ways with Implants on amicable terms and has since formed a new group called Fairvale. Matt will likely not be appearing on the band’s upcoming EP, however, as it was announced Strung Out’s Chris Aiken was tracking bass for the record in late January.