Interview: Tony Sly

Tony Sly - Photo courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords

Tony Sly - Photo courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords

Tony Sly is admittedly a busy guy. In addition to being a family man, the frontman of punk band No Use for a Name keeps himself busy not only with his band, but also with his solo project. He first began releasing and playing songs on his own in the mid-2000s, and earlier this month released his second solo album, “Sad Bear.”

The name of the album is no accident; the songs themselves have been referred to by Sly as sad sounding. He said the collection of 17 songs, 12 of which made it onto the official release, was written during a tough period, and naturally, what he was experiencing in life manifested itself in his music.

“[There were] just some speed bumps in my life at the time that I had to overcome,” he explained. “Fortunately, as a songwriter, you become your own therapist.”

Yet even when life is steadily plodding along, Sly admitted that the bad times can get his creativity going a bit better than the good ones.

“I do my best work when things are not so great, especially lyrically,” he admitted.

Sly recently completed a tour through Europe with Scorpios, a collective featuring himself, Joey Cape, Jon Snodgrass and Brian Wahlstrom, all playing one another’s songs.

He said that the reaction to the live songs has been positive, and that personally, he enjoys having more songs to showcase.

“It’s always nice to have something new,” he said.

Yet at the same time, Sly said he sometimes gets weighed down with the many hats he has to wear, particulary with record companies going the way of the buffalo.

“It’s hard out here in Europe without the Fat [Wreck Chords] office being here anymore,” he said. “I feel like I’m the distributer, going from show to show.”

In addition to having to spend more time self-promoting, Sly said that, in general, he is on the road much more often than he’d like to be, as a way of continuing to make money during times when music isn’t selling like it used to.

“I tour more these days because I…have to make up for the dying record industry,” he said. “[But] being away from my family for so long is terrible.”

However, in spite of the disadvantages, the changing face of music hasn’t been all bad. In fact, it’s inspired Sly to pursue a more lo-fi sound in his music, as a way of keeping things much more grounded and real.

“I was a perfectionist [before], but now everything you hear out there sounds so polished and overproduced,” he said. “I like to let a lot of things slide. It adds character to the songs when you can do that.”

This goes hand-in-hand with his philosophy that the purest, most real version of a song is how it exists as it’s being written.

“When it’s written, being written…if you can capture that on tape, it’s a great thing,” he shared.

The Scorpios tour is now over but Sly is currently touring Europe with No Use for a Name. The band will play in Berlin at Lido on Dec. 3.

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