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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.



The Lillingtons stream new track ‘Insect Nightmares’, announce new album ‘Stella Sapiente’

We’ve gone way too long without The Lillingtons. Reason enough for the band to spoil us a little bit. The guys just announced a brand new album called ‘Stella Sapiente’, out October 13th via Fat Wreck Chords. (Holy hell right?) Pre-order for that one can be found here.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’re also getting a brand new shredder called ‘Insect Nightmares‘. Have a listen below NOW.



Pet Symmetry release music video for “Stare Collection” featuring the band members dads

Chicago songsmiths Pet Symmetry have released a new music video for “Stare Collection” which you can watch below.

The track comes off their recently-released sophomore record “Vision”. Directed by Sean Kelly, the video creates an imagined future in which the band members reconvene 30 years from now to rock out again and think back to the good old days – the twist is that it stars each of their real-life dads as their future selves!

Pet Symmetry will be on tour throughout the US this fall, including a string of dates with Beach Slang. You can check out the tour dates below.



Lost In Stereo (pop-punk) stream new song “Tear Out The Pages”

Scottish pop punk band Lost In Stereo are streaming a teaser track from their debut album “Famous First Words”. The track is called “Tear Out The Pages” and you can listen to it here.

“Famous First Words” is due to be released on September 25th; you can pre-order your copy here.



Charlie Bit My Finger release music video for “Part Of The Plan”

Belgian pop punk act Charlie Bit My Finger have released a music video for their new track “Part Of The Plan”. Check it out below.

The song is a teaser track from their upcoming album “Third Times A Farm” which is due to be released on September 16th via Thousand Islands Records and Bearded Punk Records.



Green Day release music video for “Troubled Times”

Green Day have released a new politically charged music video for “Troubled Times”. The video includes clips from the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia as well as clips of Trump and North Korea. You can check it out below.

“Revolution Radio” was released October 7th, 2016 through Reprise Records. The album sees the band step back from the rock-operas in favor of a more stripped down approach to songwriting and performance.

The band is currently in the middle of a North American tour that will end on September 16th at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles.



Stay Home Alone stream new track “Hair and Mind”

Stay Home Alone, an Osaka, Japan based pop-punk band, is streaming a new track titled “Hair and Mind.” You can listen to it below.

“Hair and Mind” is the second track from their upcoming single Everything’s Okay When You’re Down, which is set to be released on August 20. You can find the music video for the title track here.



Neck Deep release video for “In Bloom”

Neck Deep have released a video for “In Bloom”, another track from their fourthcoming album, “The Peace And The Panic”out  via Hopeless Records on August 18th (this Friday). The track follows last month’s video “Motion Sickness”.

Pre-orders for the album are up now; you can watch the video below.



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.



The Apology Tour announce debut LP, stream new single

The Apology Tour, fronted by Nick Diener of The Swellers, have announced their debut LP, “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” to be released via Save Your Generation Records on September 15th. The band describes themselves as “Sludgy/Synthy.” I agree.

Their newest single, “Not That Far,” is streaming over at AP, so check it out while SoundCloud still exists. But wait, there’s more! If you act now, you can go to bandcamp and get two previously released tracks, yes, TWO previously released tracks for pay what you want! It’s insane! They’re practically giving these things away!

You can also stream those songs below.



Move You Still releases debut EP, “Revisit”

Alt-rock/pop punks Move You Still have released their debut EP, “Revisit.” The Massachusetts and Rhode Island band includes former members of Northernmost and Maker.

You can stream the EP below, and if you want to keep it, you can throw $5 in the general direction of bandcamp.



Four Year Strong debut “Nice To Know”

Massachusetts pop punk stars Four Year Strong,  have released a new song for the first time on two years! See what they had to say, and give “Nice To Know” a listen below.

The song will be on their upcoming project “Some Of You Will Like This, Some Won’t” which is coming out via Pure Noise, September 8th. The track list and upcoming tour dates can be found below as well.



Odd Robot and Gentlemen Prefer Blood announce West Coast Tour

SoCal punk/pop punk bands Odd Robot and Gentlemen Prefer Blood have announced an August West Coast Tour that kicks off on the 25th. Check out the tour dates below.

Odd Robot hits the road in support of their latest LP “A Late Night Panic” which was released via Wiretap Records earlier this year.

Gentlemen Prefer Blood are fresh off a new 7″ split they released with Black Dots that came out via La Escalera Records.



7 Years Bad Luck (pop-punk) stream new LP “Great, Big, Nothing”

Austria’s 7 Years Bad Luck are streaming their new LP “Great, Big, Nothing”. Give it a listen below.

The album was released today via Monster Zero Records and No Reason Records.

7 Years Bad Luck will be playing alongside Face to Face and Good Riddance tomorrow (August 10th) in Linz, Austria.



Music Video: SWANKY DANK – “Colors”

Tokyo, Japan based pop-punks SWANKY DANK have premiered a music video for their song “Colors.” You can watch it below.

The track is the lead single from their upcoming full length album Smokes, which is set to be released on September 27 in Japan.