My tribute to Tony Sly Part 1
Last September I was on a train for 15 hours all by myself coming back from Quebec where No Use for a Name played their very last show in honour to their frontman Tony Sly. And all I could think about was how I could really express myself in words and share with my friends what I really felt at that show. Kept telling myself that I'd write a long blog about it when i'd get back and for 15 hours thats literally all i could think about. I gotta admit I tried many times but was never able to put it in words in a way that I thought was good enough for Tony or thought it was way too long that no one would even read it. So now it's been a year that the world lost Tony and I feel I need to get this done… so as cliché and cheesy as it's gonna sound… I'm sorry that it took so long to write this blog… but I gave up…
So August 1st 2012, I was chilling with 2 good buddies outside on the patio enjoying the sun and I was actually telling them that Joey and Tony just released a new acoustic split album. My buddy was joking around saying how sick he was of listening to the first album cause thats ALL that would play in my car back in the days when we we're in college. Then I was telling him how awesome it was and that he didn't knew what he was talking about haha. So then as fucked up as it was, like 30 minutes after I'd say, I got a text from my buddy just saying "Tony Sly is dead"… My jaw literally dropped and I was just starring at my phone in disbelief for god knows how long until my friend asked me what was wrong. I flew to my computer and went to check what the hell was up and sure enough, it was legit. Can't really put in words that moment further cause it was a mix of disbelief, anger, sadness and I had so many questions. Reaching out to all my punk rock friends to tell them the news… very very very sad moment for punk rock community.
I eventually went for a drive cause I had to be alone for awhile and just listen to his songs and I gotta admit at some point I had to park my car just to sit and cry a little for a bit. I was literally and absolutely crushed and heartbroken. I seriously felt pathetic crying for a guy that I didn't really know personally. Only met and saw him a few times in my entire life and it was always really quick but even though I knew what he meant to me and how he was somehow a big part of my life, it surprised me how badly affected I was by his passing. And really that's the really sh!ty part of that situation cause you know what it looks like from the outside to most people. That it's no big deal cause I didn't really know the guy so that I was overreacting, looking for attention or being silly. To be fair, I understand their point of view and how they see it and I'm sure that I'm talking for a lot of NUFAN's fans here but Tony really meant a lot more to me than anyone could ever imagine.
So what did Tony really meant to me?
I was 12 or 13 years old when I first heard "Justified black eye" on Fat Wreck Chord's compilation "Survival of the Fattest". I'm 29 years old now and I literally grew up listening to No Use for a Name. Tony Sly, Joey cape (Lagwagon) and Billy Armstrong (Green Day) we're my Gods. I learned to play guitar to play and sing their songs and eventually bought an alpine white Les Paul with gold hardwares cause Tony had one like that. When I'd write song lyrics, Tony's songwriting was clearly a big inspiration to me too.
I lost many good friends and family members in my life and it's never easy. You always feel that you're losing a little part of yourself. And losing Tony was not any different, I dare say that at some extend that it was even worst for me. To me I lost an idol and a role model. Through his songs he told me stories, teached me many life lessons, he helped me dealing with some situations, he opened my eyes on bigger things than what I was going through. He showed me what you can accomplish with hard work and that it's important to follow your dream / passion and to never give up. He was literally a guide in my life even though I was not part of his and I'm sure I can speak for MANY fans out there who feel the same way. I know this sounds completely cheesy and corny but it's true.
I became passionated with music and the art that was going to it going through album artworks and booklets all my life, drawing fake album artwork and drawing band logos in my agendas in school. I pretty much became a graphic designer cause I wanted to be part of that whole thing and I can honestly say that designing for bands really got me where I am today professionally and I'll never forget who and what ignited that passion and desire in me years ago.
How many people can honestly say that they've been listening to a band for about 17 years without losing interest at some point ? It was quite an achievement, when you think about other bands who pulled this off you're thinking of Metallica, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Beatles, Johnny Cash, Madonna, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Green Day, Rush etc etc that's some pretty good company… you think kids these days will still be listening to Skrillex, Justin Bieber, Fall Out Boy in like 20 years and still give a shit about them? I really don't think so. Tony's music evolved through the years and really adapted well to where the fan base was in their life. When I was young all I wanted was fast and aggressive music about stuff who was pissing me off and Tony gave me that. Now I still like those songs but I'm also calmer and more mature (well lol that's up for debate but whatever) and his new songs and solo acoustic stuff really got me more into acoustic stuff, I even bought an acoustic guitar just to play those songs cause before that I was 100% electric. The fans grew listening to Tony, but he grew too.
From album to album his lyrics we're becoming more mature and more crafted. Any situations that I went through in my life had a NUFAN's song that I could listen to to make me feel better, thats how wide his range was in term of songwriting. Tony was more than the typical "fuck the world / society / government" punk rocker. His songs were true and honest and it's killing me to know that I'll never get to hear more from him. I also don't have kids but I really felt the pain of being away from your kids and what they mean to you through his songs. Listening to so many of his songs about his daughters and wife is literally breaking my heart now knowing that he's not there for them anymore and how important it was for him.
Eventually on the day I learned about the news, I came back home eventually and decided that I'd get a Tony Sly tattoo in his honour, my roommate at that time was a tattoo artist so I asked him if he was willing to do a tattoo later that evening, he was, so I spent some time designing it and later that night we got it done while listening and signing Tony's songs all the way through the process. It was a great moment and somewhat therapeutic for me at that time and I'll never regret doing it.
I realize that this is pretty damn long / way too long / all over the place and that I still didn't even talked about the tribute show. I could write a book about Tony but let's call it a day for now, it's almost 2am and I need some sleep. I'll get on part 2 in the next few days whenever I have a moment.
Thanks for reading for those who did.
Miss you Tony. There's honestly not a single day since August 31st that went by without me listening to your songs.