For more than 20 years now, Tony Sly has been fronting the highly influential, infectiously fun pop punk band No Use For a Name. But as consistently solid as the band’s output has remained year after year, you can’t blame the guy for wanting try something a little different. And Sad Bear is a little different.
Accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a handful of guest musicians, like his previous solo effort, Sad Bear is a beautiful, stark collection of highly personal songs, showcasing some of his best writing to date.
Sly wants to start work on a new NUFAN record at some point thist year and squeeze in some solo shows here and there, as well. But he took some time recently to answer some questions over e-mail about Sad Bear, questioning deities and the future of NUFAN.
Innocent Words: This is your second stripped down/acoustic record. I assume you enjoyed the experience last year. Were you nervous at all putting out 12 Songs, knowing it was just you out there?
Tony Sly: No. It’s actually easier doing things yourself. I’m in Berlin right now and writing songs for No Use. You just have to go for it and put your neck out there.
IW: What can you tell me about the songs that make up Sad Bear?
Sly: They are very personal. And I don’t care who gets it and who doesn’t. I’m not out to impress anyone, just to appease myself and alleviate some stress in my life. It works too. It’s like having a therapist all the time. If something is getting to me I can always pick up my guitar and play.
IW: So what’s behind the album name?
Sly: Sergie Loobkoff made a painting with that title. I used both the painting and title. I love it! People started giving me teddy bears on tour.
IW: I really liked the song “Hey God” off the new album. Was there a particular incident that inspired it?
Sly: Thanks. Yeah, just questioning what is real and what is false. We have to think freely in this day and age and question our beliefs instead of letting them control us. No incident. I just think life, kids, marriage, depression, and those kinds of things. The good and the bad.
IW: I love the music of No Use For a Name, but these songs just seem much more personal than those you do with the band. Is that fair to say?
Sly: Yes, very. It was a personal whirlwind at the time. I just didn’t know where I was in life. I didn’t know what my future was or who held the keys. I wasn’t in charge.
IW: You brought in a lot of guests for this record. Who joined you in the studio?
Sly: They are all listed on the record. I wanted to broaden my solo sound from where 12 Songs left off. I just wanted that experience and I loved it. My next solo album may just be me and my guitar.
IW: That being said, do you have plans for another NUFAN record any time soon?
Sly: I’m excited to do it. We’ve had two member changes since, then so it will be interesting to work with two fresh minds. Both members were in RKL and the Other at one time, so we should rip.
IW: Do you plan to tour much behind this record?
Sly: Yes. Whatever comes my way. Right now it’s a little hard to think of that, because I am in the middle of two long European tours with Scorpios and No Use starting soon. I’m sort of waiting to see what unfolds for 2012. I want to write a new No Use record for sure though. That I do know.