BALCONYTV DUBLIN 15/03/2010
PRESENTED BY PAULINE FREEMAN
If you think youve got Tony Sly all figured out, think again. For over two decades Sly has made an indelible name for himself as the frontman for No Use For A Name, one of pop-punks premiere acts, however those close to him also know that Slys musical talents extend far beyond the melodic power chords and socially conscious lyrics that hes pioneered via his career in NUFAN. This fact will finally be made clear to the world with the release of Tony Slys solo debut 12 Song Program, a diverse collection of tracks recorded on acoustic guitar that evoke the Pogues more than they do Pennywise and show that Slys gift for songwriting transcends genres and classifications, proving that Sly truly is a rock n roll Renaissance Man in the purest sense of the phrase.
At this point youre probably wondering why it took Sly so long to get these songs onto tape—and, frankly, so is he. This is something I should have done about seven years ago, Sly replies, citing No Use For A Names grueling touring and recording cycle as the reason why it took him so long to find the time to focus on his solo career. I started writing songs a while back that didnt really fit the mold of NUFAN and I felt like I wanted to do something different other than punk rock but the timing was never right, he continues. Earlier this year when his band had a four-month break following an extensive world tour supporting their ninth full-length album The Feel Good Record Of The Year, Sly finally had the opportunity to focus on the songs that make up 12 Song Program. He immersed himself in these songs and began playing solo shows at local bars to enthusiastic audiences.
Conceptualized and recorded in less than a year, 12 Song Program is the end product of this burst of creativity and the result is anything but an unplugged NUFAN album. When I was writing these songs I was drawing on influences like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and David Bowie as opposed to my usual old punk influences like Bad Religion, Sly explains. Sly credits his infatuation with these songwriters to the first record he ever heard, a copy of the Beatles Rubber Soul that his mother found at a garage sale and passed onto him. I think the first record you ever hear sticks with you for life and that was Rubber Soul, he continues. The Beatles got me into playing guitar, so what Im doing now is going back to my real roots before I got into punk.
From the tender, orchestrally tinged ballad The Shortest Pier to stripped-down acoustic tracks like Expired and the soul-searching barroom sing-along Toaster In The Bathtub, 12 Song Program is teeming with expertly arranged songs that each have their own unique sound and sonic personality. What Ive heard from people around me is that it doesnt sound like No Use For A Name and my response is, If it did sound like that then the songs would just end up on a NUFAN record because thered be no point in doing this if it wasnt different. Although the album was Slys brainchild, he also enlisted the help of friends such as NOFXs Fat Mike, Swingin Utters Darius Koski, Lagwagons Joey Cape and Dance Hall Crashers Karina Deniké to help flesh out and fully realize these tracks.
I had such a great time making this album, Sly says about his experience recording 12 Song Program with Jamie McMann at Motor Studios in San Francisco, California. Not that I dont [enjoy recording] with No Use, but it was just a really freeing experience, he continues. I didnt really worry about polishing up things because I wanted this to sound like a guy playing in his living room, something you would hear at a bar—and I hope that came across. As you may have guessed from the title, lyrically 12 Song Program sees Sly confronting his own demons in a way that hes never quite captured before. There is a little bit of politics, but its definitely more personal than the last couple of NUFAN records- a lot of songs about drinking to get by, he elaborates. There are a couple relationship songs on there but theyre not really love songs, theyre more about trying to fix what you may have screwed up and ultimately growing from those experiences.
In early 2010 Sly has plans to hit the road with his former bandmate Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters) as well as with Joey Cape in order to bring these songs to fans of his old band as well as the inevitable crop of new converts. I know I have a foothold already because of NUFAN but Im really trying to branch out and do something new to show people that I can write any type of song, Sly responds when asked what he hopes to take away from the time he spends supporting 12 Song Program before he starts work on NUFANs next effort. l just love writing songs, he summarizes, thats what all of this is about. http://www.myspace.com/tonyslymusic
Tune in again tomorrow!!!