No Use For A Name
No Use For A Name are one of THE most successful and prolific acts to come out of the 90’s skate-punk scene. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Just have a look at their family tree, it has bands like Spazz, Foo Fighters, and Suicidal Tendencies to count among it’s branches. No really, think about that: the dude from that infamous grindcore band was in NUFAN?!? Their long, unpredictable journey has been full of twists, turns, and alternate routes that led them to be one of the best-selling outfits of their genre. They’ve done it all: Warped Tour’s mainstage, MTV, a live record, and an even a recent greatest hits album entitled, All The Best Songs. Hey, you know you’ve made it when you finally get a greatest hits collection! Not bad for some goofy kids from San Jose who started out with a couple hardcore 7"s…
Early No Use releases appeared on New Red Archives, a San Francisco punk label operated by Nicky Garratt of the UK Subs. Believe it or not, in the late 80’s it actually made sense that they would be labelmates with Reagan Youth, Social Unrest, and Christ On A Crutch. An AllMusic review describes their early material as, “…hulking hardcore with mighty fists full of metal.” “Angry” and “Threatening”. This was a gritty, hardcore punk band, known mostly for their growling vocals and dark lyrical themes. Then came the first unforeseen occurrence: frontman Tony Sly unexpectedly developed into a proficient songwriter and mastered melody like few punk bands can ever do. Nobody knows where those gifts come from and you never see it coming, but suddenly No Use For A Name was starting to make music that people actually liked.
As is natural, the band kept evolving, and things changed in a major way for the band when they signed to Fat Wreck Chords in the mid-90’s. Their 8-song Fat debut, The Daily Grind EP, drew comparisons to Bad Religion and was a marked step up, but it was 1995’s, ¡Leche con Carne!, that would cement No Use For A Name as a successful band for years to come. The album was their best yet and bore a hit song (“Soul Mate”) that landed them on alternative radio charts, which, for a scrappy punk band, was a complete deviation from industry norms. Stranger yet, was that they made a music video and MTV even played the damn thing! What followed obviously was commercial success in the form of six-figure album sales, another anomaly in the world of indie-punk bands and something that would set the stage for later melodic punk bands like Blink 182, et al. From then on it was steady sailing with a string of successful records and tours from the band. Most notably was 1997’s darker, and somehow faster, Making Friends; followed by 1999’s hyper-catchy More Betterness!. It was during these halcyon days that Chris Shiflett held down 6-string duties for NUFAN before accepting an offer to join Foo Fighters on lead guitar.
The years went by for the perennial punk powerhouse and the band did numerous world tours, amassing album sales that would eventually total in the 7 figures. Pretty remarkable when you think about it. The new millennium was also a fruitful time for the boys. It started in 2001 with the release of their Live In A Dive album, which was very successful abroad where people were especially hungry for No Use’s live performances. In 2002 they released their poppiest effort, Hard Rock Bottom, which was stocked with upbeat tempos and radio-friendly melodies. Their most recent and seemingly final studio album came in 2008. Ironically titled The Feel Good Album Of The Year, the album was a tinge darker and more aggressive than their recent releases and the band reminded us all that their songs still had urgency and bite.
After 25 years, No Use For A Name disbanded in 2012 when frontman Tony unexpectedly passed away. Anthony J. Sly (November 4, 1970 – July 31, 2012) died at home, in his sleep on a Tuesday morning, at age 41. Fat Mike–label head and long-time friend to Tony–was staggered by the news and offered, “One of my dearest friends and favorite songwriters has gone way too soon. Tony, you will be greatly missed.” No one could’ve predicted his passing, and needless to say, it shook the very foundation of the Fat Wreck family and the underground music community as a whole. Tony was loved and respected by a wide variety of artists and musicians, and nowhere is that more evident than the roster of contributors to The Songs of Tony Sly: A Tribute; a compilation of NUFAN songs covered by bands like Bad Religion, Frank Turner, The Gaslight Anthem, Alkaline Trio, and many more. Bands from the Americas, Europe, Australia, UK, and even Israel contributed to this final chapter in the storied career of No Use For A Name. The collection will be released on October 29th, 2013, and all proceeds will go towards the Tony Sly Memorial Fund, which has been established to help Tony’s wife Brigitte and their daughters, Fiona and Keira.