No Use For A Name has always done it their way; not following any trends and just playing the punk-rock they wanted to. Almost twenty years after their formation, the band is still packing clubs and rocking out. I sat down with the band’s bassist, Matt Riddle, and guitarist, Dave Nassie, who shared their discontent about the current punk scene.
The Concordian: You guys are on your first North American headlining tour since 2002. How has the experience been so far?
Nassie: Nerve wracking!
Riddle: When you are opening for other bands, it’s a no-brainer. You don’t really do sound checks, you just show up. When you’re headlining, everybody’s based on your schedule. It is definitely nerve wracking; it’s a lot more work.
Nassie: It’s good because in the same sense, we’ve opened for some bands, so we want to see if it’s helped. It’s been a while; it’s been really good. Music has changed a bit since we last did a headlining tour. You are biting your nails a little bit, wondering if anyone is going to come out.
Riddle: The scene has changed quite a bit. We’ve been through it a million times where you’ll have a year of great touring and a year of not so great touring, and it’s definitely a down cycle right now. It’s been better than we expected, but not like it could be.
Nassie: We just found out that sales for our record are amazing, so it’s just a different time. There’s a lot of traffic. There’s a lot of packaged tours today.
The Concordian: There are a lot of options today for kids. There are big tours that come through with seven or eight bands on the bill for a cheap ticket, it’s hard to compete against that.
Riddle: That’s the problem. There are so many bands out there nowadays because it’s so easy to do. Any kid can buy Pro-Tools for his computer and make a band. It’s that easy now and with MySpace.com; I think it’s almost too accessible now. Back in the day, it was really cool when a band had to work because the fans would appreciate that more. It’s a really weird scene now.
The Concordian: Before punk rock was a lot more DIY. Today, bands get successful really quickly and it’s rare that they’ll work 10 years to get popular.
Riddle: But most bands won’t last two years, because they don’t really get it.
Nassie: There are upsides and downsides to it. You can be a flash in the pan and you can make a crap-load of money and have a three-year career. Or [you can have] have an 18-year career, be smart with what you get, and do it the way you’ve always done it. That’s how lucky we are.
Riddle: I think that’s one thing that I find really interesting about this too is that all these bands go out there and do these massive record deals and people hear about this band [that] signed a 3.4 million dollar contract. But you know what? They don’t get that money. It all goes to marketing because they signed a contract for that money, but there are all these little things that come into it. You have two managers, your stage show has to be huge with lights and all; it goes all the way down the line and everybody’s getting cut and they walk out with less money than we do. Yah, they’ll get the popularity for a couple of years, but screw that.
The Concordian: A lot of bands that I’ve interviewed say it’s punk’s turn to be big again. Do you agree with that?
Nassie: It goes in cycles in the United States but it seems that here in Canada, you guys are a little more genuine with letting bands have a life. You are open to different things. You guys play bands like us on your music channels. It’s just different in that respect. If a band’s good, you play them. In the United States, if a band’s good, you’re not going to hear them. [laughs] It’s true: a good band in the States, you’ll never hear them.
Riddle: You guys appreciate the work ethic a lot more.
Nassie: The United States is driven by hip-hop and R&B which is great…
Riddle: To me, it’s just the downfall of society. [laughs]
Nassie: There’s so much money to be made from it that it’s hard for us to carve a niche in it. So we found a way to not need it; to stay on tour and try to make good albums.
Riddle: We really saw it on Warped Tour last year. We saw how bizarre it’s gotten. There are so many bands out there with no talent and it blows me away. There are a lot of them that do have talent and know what they’re doing, but these kids eat it up without really understanding. They don’t care if it sounds good anymore. They’re like, everybody likes this band, so I’ll like them to. It’s time to grow up and enjoy things for yourself. It’s the kids; they don’t have full access to what is out there. It’s good that we did Warped Tour because it gave the kids a heads up that we were there, but it was a really tough tour to do.
The Concordian: Especially if there are four or five bands playing at the same time.
Nassie: We don’t survive against My Chemical Romance, and it happens. We watched it. And when you watch a crowd go from 13 000 to 6 000, though 6 000 is a lot of people, it sucks [laughs] but that’s just the way it is.
Riddle: But you look at it saying there is still 6 000 people coming to see us in this city, which is more than we would draw at a club, that’s for sure. I’m totally not dissing the band though, it’s not their fault.
The Concordian: What has been your key to longevity?
Riddle: Probably not conforming. Not to sound like some punk rockers, because we are all home owners, but it’s the fact that all of these bands are trying to jump into a formula. We’re very aware of what is going on in music today and all we can really do is play our best.
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We are very particular about our live show as far as how we sound. That’s just something we’ve always taken pride in and it seems to have helped a lot. A lot of the bands that come from the same time era as we have, have stopped. We enjoy it too much. Until the kids stop coming, we’re not going to stop doing this.
The Concordian: Do you think that if you would have followed trends that you’d still be here today?
Riddle: No, because I think youth plays a big part in that. We’re a very seasoned band; we’ve been around for a very long time. I don’t think that these little kids want to see a band that has been around for 20 years. They want to see kids doing the same thing because they want to feel that they could be doing that too, and that’s what’s going on.
The Concordian: You guys always welcome your fans to come and say “hi” or hang out at the merch table. It seems it’s mostly the older bands who are willing to do that. What do you still get from meeting a fan after all of these years?
Riddle: It’s a respect thing. These bands that are big now aren’t big because of the fans, they’re big because the labels shoved their a**es in a bus and gave them tons of money and said “this is your life now.” That’s how they perceive the music industry. We understand that all these people that come to our shows and buy our shirts and CDs, they’re the reason that I was able to buy a house, to get married, get a car or live my life at all. These are the kids that have allowed us to survive this long, it’s not the label that’s doing it for us. We have a great label that is as grassroots as we are. They understand where we are at, but these bands today, they don’t get that at all.
The Concordian: You were talking about longevity; how long do you think you’ll be doing this for?
Riddle: I have never been able to answer that question. Our lifespan is going to be determined by us. I know that we still enjoy it. As soon as it sucks for us, we’ll stop, because life’s too short to be doing something that sucks.
The Concordian: What has being in this band taught you?
Riddle: It’s taught me that the world is a lot bigger than I ever thought it was. There’s a lot more going on out there. I really appreciate the band for that. There’s a lot of people who are going to grow up and live their lives very sheltered. I’m really glad to not be one of those people. When you see that much stuff in your life, it really keeps you in line. There’s so much good out there, but there’s also so much bad out there that it teaches what to rebel against, instead of the bullshit that people do. “I hate my mom because she won’t let me play my PSP.” You know what? Don’t be a little p***y. There is so much more going on than that. It’s actually very uplifting to know that you are not in some of these other situations that are so bad.
The Concordian: But that’s because of society.
Riddle: Right! Society’s a bunch of spoiled little brats! And that’s really too bad. And being in a band has taught me a lot about that.