ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
NUFAN true to punk roots
By Ashley Audrain
Gazette file photo
WHAT REAL PUNK LOOKS LIKE. No Use For A Name hit Call
the Office tonight for a live punk show.
Today's skateboarding, chain-wearing, hawk-sporting skater-teens
who consider themselves "hardcore punk" fans date the scene
way back to early 2002 - the birth of Good Charlotte and Simple
Plan. But long before the conception of these little punks,
there existed the original, independent, anti-establishment
punk rock world in the mid-'70s and '80s, founded by bands making
a statement of individuality and creating the culture as a reaction
to mass commercialism.
Some of the bands faithful to this philosophy have managed
to survive punk rock's dirty fusion with the evil world of pop.
Sixteen years, four different guitarists, nine albums and several
Warped Tours later, punk veterans No Use For A Name (NUFAN)
are one band still alive and screaming.
Started by members Tony Sly and Rory Roff, NUFAN began in San
José, California, in 1987. The band's first full-length album,
Incognito, was released in 1990. NUFAN has since seen several
changes in labels and members through its nine releases and
constant touring. Currently, the band is on a Canadian tour
and is heading to Europe in October.
"We haven't changed anything," says Matt Riddle, NUFAN's bassist
and vocalist, commenting on the band's low-key staying power
in the changing scene of punk.
Riddle adds the band feels no pressure to conform to the popularity
of the pop-punched punk sound. "We aren't hard-core by any means,
but we are a more aggressive band compared to the new punk stuff."
Recent punk bands to emerge in the scene, like New Found Glory
and The Starting Line, are signing with commercial labels like
Drive Thru Records and have adopted a more radio-friendly sound.
But according to Riddle, Fat Wreck Chords (NUFAN's record label)
encourages its bands - including NOFX and Less Than Jake - to
keep their original independent sound, focusing less on record
sales and mainstream popularity.
NUFAN's latest album, Hard Rock Bottom, was released last year
and is noticeably catchier and more melodic than previous records.
Nevertheless, Riddle maintains the album's sound isn't an effort
to keep the aging band fresh in the new punk scene. Although
he doesn't consider the new and younger bands to be "selling
out" on the roots of punk music, Riddle personally doesn't care
for the sounds of some of his fellow bands on the Warped Tour.
"Bands like Good Charlotte are just entertainment for us,"
Riddle remarks. Speaking of the recent Warped Tour, he adds
"certain bands" had an unspoken, apathetic sentiment towards
the younger replica bands, despite their obvious popularity
with the crowd. The difference between "being a punk" and "being
punk" is bothersome for the band.
"She bothers me," admits Riddle of Avril Lavigne and her effort
to make punk a fashion cliché and an excuse to validate her
bratty persona. "Kids like her make fun of punk rock culture."
When asked what band he considers praiseworthy today, Riddle
says there isn't a lot he cares for these days: "The new Iron
Maiden album is probably my favorite right now."
Spoken like a true veteran.
No Use For a Name is currently in the middle of their Canadian
tour with Big Wig and Irish Car Bomb. They are playing in London
at Call the Office tonight.