Yesterday, Fat Wreck Chords released the very sad news that Tony Sly, singer and guitarist of '90s punk band No Use for a Name passed away on July 31. The cause of death has not been released. Sly was 41.
Upon reading the news of his death, I hoped that there was some sort of error. The news was unbelievable. Tony Sly was so young and the band performed at Yucca Tap Room less than a year ago.
From what I've read online, there wasn't anything indicating that he was ill, though some information suggests that his death may have had something to do with his herniated disc. Our sister paper, O.C. Weekly, spoke to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office and was informed that it appears to be a natural death.
NUFAN's bassist, Matt Riddle posted a statement on the band's Facebook page:
this is matt from no use for a name.
i've learned over the years there's really no right way to talk about this stuff. i was kind of hoping it wouldn't get out so fast for his family's sake but it's a little late for that now. i see that this news has gotten around pretty fast. so i wanted to tell you all personally that this morning i found out that yesterday tony passed away. i'm not sure of all the details yet, and i don't think that's really important. what's important is i lost a great friend and you lost a great songwriter. i've been playing with him for 15 years? 16? i haven't processed it yet. i've been on the phone all day with friends and family. i'm not looking forward to it sinking in. i'm worried sick for his wife and kids. i knew tony very well and he would definitely want to thank you for all the love and support for both no use and his solo career. if this doesn't sound like a professional statement, it's because it's not. it's just me venting and i wanted to let you guys know personally.
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My favorite No Use for a Name memory was the first time I saw the band in 2002 at Warped Tour. Hard Rock Bottom was recently released and I had it in heavy rotation along with Leche Con Carne, More Betterness, Making Friends, and so on. I was so excited to finally see NUFAN; I remember screaming along to most of the set and jumping into the pit during some of my favorite songs.
After their set, the band had a meet and greet, where I nervously asked members to sign a poster and take a picture with me. I gushed about how much I loved No Use and everyone seemed flattered. The band took the time to talk to me and thank me, and didn't rush me away. I was so happy to meet my favorite band (at the time) and learn that they were all down to earth.
The following year, I saw the band at Celebrity Theatre. I was reluctant to buy a pricy ticket to see No Use play an opening slot, but hey, it was two days after my birthday and they were my favorite band, so I was stoked. I'm pretty sure my enthusiasm freaked out some bored and unsuspecting fans of The Starting Line, but I didn't care. I made the most out of the band's 30-minute set.
I'm sad to say that was the last time I saw NUFAN live. I've listened to Live in a Dive enough times to have the dialog memorized ("Hey what's your name?" "Fuck you, that's my name!"). The band played quite a few shows at Yucca Tap Room after that. I missed one because I wasn't 21 yet, but the following years I never had a good excuse. I just shrugged and figured I would see them next year, but in retrospect, it wasn't worth it to miss No Use for a Name to stay home, go on a date, work on homework, or whatever. All of those things could have waited one more day. So what if I had to stand in a room full of sweaty people rocking out?
I regret never going to any of No Use for a Name's free shows at Yucca Tap Room. The couple of times I saw NUFAN, they put on a great show that brought a huge cheek-aching smile to my face. Now I will never be able to see them again. I missed out on all of those free shows and Tony Sly's solo acoustic shows. All we're left with is YouTube clips, Life in a Dive, and Tony Sly's split CDs with Joey Cape.
If there's a moral to this story, it's go see bands you like whenever they come to town because you never know if it's going to be their last show. You'll regret not going more than not getting enough sleep and having to work the next day. No matter how much the band has aged, I guarantee that you will still have fun singing along to those lyrics you can never seem to forget, no matter how long it's been since you listened to that band.
Here's a Punknews comment from lostmotel that sums up the Yucca shows that I missed:
Like a lot of other folks above me....I usually never feel the need to post on punknews, but this just really hit me hard today. It's the thing I love most about punk rock though, that me and this community can feel such sadness over the loss of a guy we've never met and never knew except through the connection that we made via music and lyrics. That feeling that no matter how well known a band is or how many fans they have or how many shows they've played that the night you're seeing them, they're still doing it for love and for you. The feeling that as long as you've got the music, you're never alone. I always felt that way when I listened to Tony's songs.
My favorite memory of seeing them that speaks to those feelings was at the Yucca Tap in Tempe. There's never a cover at Yucca and thanks to the awesome friends and connections that a certain favorite ex-promoter in the Valley has, the Yucca got a lot of bigger bands to come through and do free shows. NUFAN played one of those free shows and packed the tiny front room. Tony treated it like a house party more than a show....drinking with fans before and after the show, inviting people to come up and sing for him, fucking around with cover songs...just all kinds of general unprofessional awesomeness. They played for close to 3 hours and it felt more like hanging out with your closest friends than seeing one of the most well known punk bands of the past 20 years in a little dive bar.
RIP Tony....thanks for the great memories and for teaching me how fuse heartfelt melody with rippin' punk rock. My heart goes out to the family and friends of one of the best to ever do it. You'll be missed.
Cbsrocksteady's comment best sums up my feelings about No Use for a Name-
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NOFX and Bad Religion brought me to the punk party. NUFAN was the best friend I made that walked home drunk with me. RIP. Way too young.
No Use was that inanimate best friend I had for a couple of years that was always there for me. I would listen to Leche Con Carne while quickly skateboarding home since I couldn't wait to pick up my guitar and try to play along to my favorite No Use for a Name songs. I finally found a friend who liked the same kind of music as me (he had blue hair and mine was pink -- it was fate), and years later we will still rock out to More Betterness together and insult each other with "Fairytale of New York."
Thank you Tony Sly and No Use for a Name for making punk mean more to me than a passing "adolescent cycle." I will always remember No Use for a Name as the best friend that walked home with me. R.I.P. Tony Sly, we miss you dearly.