No Use For A Name, one of the flagships of Fat Wreck Chords in the nineties punk revival have conquered many punkrockers hearts over the years. Unfortunately their legacy was cut abrupt in 2012 with the passing of charismatic frontman and vocalist Tony Sly. Leaving behind a big void in the heart of many punks worldwide. Almost four years after the disbanding of the band the remaining bandmembers came back for some final shows during the San Francisco performance of Fat Wreck 25 years. And since Europe couldn't be left behind the fine folks at Groezrock arranged to get No Use And Friends to their festival for a special performance. Core members Matt Riddle, Rory Koff and Dave Nassie will hit the stage once again backed by fellow friends and musicians who help out on the vocal parts. Time to speak with some of my personal heroes on a life changing band and their upcoming future and projects. Matt, Rory and Dave are still marvelling at the flyer for Graspop present at the press room and discussing the tons of great bands featured on the lineup.
Welcome to Groezrock. And a special occasion since it's No Use And Friends. Who may we expect to pay tribute to Tony and the band this evening?
Mattt: There are going to be people here at the show. We got Joey, he's in The Gimme Gimmes here. He's coming up and doing like six songs with us. And they we got Chuck from Mad Caddies. We got Spike from The Gimme Gimmes. Trever from Face to Face. I think that's it. We had John Carey too from Old Man Markley. He's working with Juliette Lewis but he had to leave early for the next show. So he's not going be able to do it. I was like 'damn'. I think that's pretty much it. And i'm singing like six of them.
You've done this type of performance before in San Francisco for 25 years Fat Wreck Records and took the whole crew out to Japan too. Europe is very thankful that you've decided to perform on Groezrock this year. What made you decide to come over for this one off performance?
Matt: No we didn't do Japan.
Dave: It happened in Japan but the three of us weren't in Japan when it happened.
Matt: Somebody else did it. We don't know why, but hey, that's the way of the world.
So now Europe.
Matt: We seriously found out like two week ago that we were going to do it. Dave Pollack, who's our booking agent over here.
Dave: Destiny Booking
Matt: He asked if we wanted to do it. It's rad, with Tony's wife coming over with the kids and all that. It's really neat. It's going to be fun.
Rory: We're thankfull to be here too.
Since Tony has passed away, four years soon, the band has officially disbanded. What are you currently doing, be it professional or music wise?
Matt: I'm in a band called Implants. It's great, it's fun just playing. I also do like graphic design work for like a tattoo company. That's what i am doing.
Dave: I do a lot of guitar lessons. I have been taking guitar lessons. I just have been teaching actually at home. I play in a cover band at home, like a country cover band.
Do you also tour with the band?
Dave: I do play with another band, which is called Throwdown, it's like a straight edge hardcore band. Which totally fits my personality. But we played here last year, that was like the only show we did in two years. We don't really do anything.
Matt: You played Groezrock last year, that's rad.
Dave: Just been doing the lessons and that's what keeps me happy these days. And Rory is playing himself.
Rory: I'm playing in a country band now with Dave and an another project i'm working at. Otherwise i'm just attending my business at home. I'm just super happy to be doing this with Dave and Matt and the No Use guys. Just playing the songs, someone asks what are you doing…it's just us and the songs. Keep it simple, we're just super stoked to be playing the songs.
So you've been here from today?
Rory: We were here yesterday. We got here from the time the bands started untill they finished.
Matt: Frank Turner was really good, Rancid they are always good, Mad Caddies.
Dave: I enjoyed Hatebreed.
Matt: Less Than Jake, always rad and really cool guys.
Many artists and bands have payed tribute to NUFAN and in particular Tony Sly these last years, from covers to original songs, like Yotam's Tony Sly. Do you have any particular rendition or song that touches you most?
Matt: Really good friend of ours. I actually like how Yotam did it. That's kind of my thing. I actually posted it on my personal Facebook page.It thought it was so good. I really like it a lot.
Dave: I've enjoyed watching people doing the covers. There's a guy who did it, i can't think of his name. He did International You Day on a steel like acoustic version and it's on Youtube. It's like the coolest thing i ever heard, the interpretation of one the band's songs. I enjoy seeing people do that.
It's really neat. It makes me think of what we were doing when we practiced it. Or when Tony first played it for us. When i heard International You Day i thought about the time we were all sitting in Tony's house, i remember where he was sitting. The first time i heard that song. I like that stuff, it makes me think of the good stuff.
Back when NUFAN started in the late '80's, did you ever see the band evolving into such a well know and respected band inspiring many other to start a band?
Rory: It makes me feel very old. I feel really good about it. Just the whole thing. Time heals. I'm just happy to be here with Dave and Matt and just play these songs.I would have never imagined that it went on as long as it did with Tony. We're getting to have a little afterlife and enjoy something like this weekend here, i'm really proud of it. I wouldn't be doing it unless these guys agreed to doing it. It is a group effort. Just come together, if one of us doesn't feel right about it we steer away. If we all feel good about it then it's a feel good thing. It's been such a long journey, i didn't think it would take up so much of any of our lives. It's been a great experience. We all had ups and downs with bands. Now that we've moved it and we're here. Just good vibes and good thoughts, very fortunate to be doing this today.
Dave: We were just meeting some people at the merch area and we were signing stuff and i dated something with 2016 and that tripped me out. Because i remember dating 1999, 2000,… Obviously there was a period of time i wasn't with the band, i feel very fortunate to do it.
Rory: it's very wild. I started playing with the first incarnation of No Use For A Name in 1986, we got Tony in 1989. That's how long it's been and we are not that old. It's more than half my life. It's a trip. We have all done music before and after this band and we'll keep doing it. To have this incarnation of No Use in our lives, we all feel fortunate about it. It's cool.
The band has been around for over two decades, the music industry has changed a lot over those years. How do you feel about today's music and the industry surrounding it? (physical releases, touring,…)
Dave: Of course. I think we slipped under the crack of the last era of bands where people bought records. We were there when it fell of. So that's the biggest change, like watching a company like Fat Wreck go from a giant building with a bunch of employees to not being a giant building with a bunch of employees. Like we have to run this by the office, cracking a joke, could you yell that to the guy next to you. I say it in like a kind of funny way but everybody excepted it.
Matt: You also have the shows, that's what cool. Even though the music industry has changed you'll always have a bunch of kids in front of you. I call them kids because i'm almost fifty now. Anyone under thirthy is a kid. There all there in front of me, holy shit, that's still awesome.
Rory: I would like to add something to that, about the changing about the business side of the music. One thing we've gotten to see uptill now. From going to cassettes to records to CD's to digital, to pretty much all platforms. You can't sell music, music doesn't sell anymore, it's not a viable commodity, people just get it from the internet, they watch Youtube. There has been so much change. Bands that are able to keep busy and survive, keep working, it's a real challenge and sacrifice for bands to keep doing it today. You hope the band are in love with what they're doing it not doing it for the wrong reasons.For us we are just happy to be doing it for the right reasons, pay tribute to Tony and the songs. We get to do this with our group and the friends that want to join us.
The band has toured across the entire globe, what show will always be your most fond memory in those years?
Dave: You know what i always think of when people ask me that. The first time i played with you guys with Bad Religion. Outside in Austria before Brooks was in the band.
Matt: Oh yeah
Dave: It was a gig in Austria in an outdoor part of the venue. It was us and Bad Religion. It was my first experience playing with Bad Religion. These guys were coming up to me, look at the drummer, look at this guy. They were giving me an educational history of Bad Religion. I remember that a lot.
Matt: I think the craziest one to name is the first time we went to Japan. We had cancelled a number of tours going there, so when we finally got there the hype was so big. Me and Tony were walking around in Tokoy and kids started coming up to get autographs and stuff. All of a sudden there was like a swarm and the cops had to come and break it up and escort us back. It was weird, we never considered us rockstars in any way. It scared the shit out of me. These guys are gnarly, they really want a piece of you. So when we got up on stage and played, you always feel an energy when you are playing, but that one was really weird.
Are there still some unfinished songs of NUFAN laying around that could possibly ever see the daylight?
Dave: Rory can tell you about the project.
Rory: It's a whole thing, nothing has been materialised yet. For the last year and a half i have been compiling all video, pictures, everything we can. We would like to do a few things. A documentary, a story of the band. That's something that will probably happen sooner than later. We would also like to put together a boxset, a definitive collection with personal pictures. Who knows what that might entail as far as any new music. Putting something together, a soundtrack to it. There's quite a big library out there from songs that we could choose from. I wouldn't say there's one particular thing. This thing is down the pipe that we like to see done. Maybe we get lucky enough to do more shows like this. No stress situation that people want to see us and we want to do it. At this point, without Tony here, we try do to things with his consideration, with the family's consideration, with the record label's consideration. To be honest, with our own personal consideration, If it doesn't feel right, it won't happen.
Matt: That's the thing. We decided a while back not to continue on as a band. Tony's death, he died, it's the worst thing. He was our front guy, we don't just want to replace him with a guitar player and keep going. It's not what it's about. It's a tribute to him, it's a tribute to everything we accomplished as a band. It's a special occasion.
Dave: As long as it's a way of honouring him.
Matt: A lot of people would carry on like that. We can all do other things, that's fine. This kind of stuff is really fun from time to time. We're not going to go out as a touring band.
Dave: As long as it's respectfull to the family, we all agree on it and it's a way to share it with people. And if we feel that Tony would be into it.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote