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New Breed
A Conversation With Matt Riddle and Rory Koff
by Samuel Barker
April 11, 2000

After searching high and low for the Tour Manager from the Fat Wreck tour, I came upon a travel trailer. In which I found Matt Riddle and Rory Koff of No Use For A Name. Being my first interview, I was a bit shaky, but the guys did a great job of winging me through the beginning till I could get my feel for everything. Thanks for being so supportive and not laughing too much.

Rory and Matt were really cool guys. Matt was working on his classical guitar skills thoughout most of the interview, so he wasn't too vocal. But the interview was really rad, and I had a great time doing the interview, and watching the show. Thanks out to No Use For A Name, The Ataris, Good Riddance, The Mad Caddies, and Fat Wreck Chords. Also, I think it's safe to say NUFAN never played the Abyss.

Samuel Barker: Alright, what are your names, and what do you play?

Matt Riddle: My name is Matt, I play bass.

Rory Koff: My name is Rory, I play drums.

Samuel:(to Rory) So you're the only original member left here right?

Rory: Well, Tony too.

Samuel: Here I mean.

Rory: Yeah.

Samuel Barker: So the rest of the guys are kinda new?

Rory: Well, Matt's not new.

Matt: Yeah, I've been with them 5 years.

Samuel:(laughing) Oops. Well, you're not exactly new. Well, anyways, the new album was way tighter than the older one, was that due to a lot of practice or what?

Rory: Well, it was more like everything fell into place so easy. It was the best record ever because it was so easy. Tony wrote a bunch of songs, a bunch of different ideas. We practiced for a bit. Wrote our own parts for it. It was just the best time ever. We went into the studio. It took so little time doing it, we just cruised right through it, it was a lot of fun. So we're really proud of this record, it's the best thing we've done I think.

Samuel: That's cool, so you all write your own parts. Like Tony comes in with the ideas, and you throw everything down over it?

Rory: Yeah.

Samuel: That's cool. Well, I noticed you guys just changed guitarists again, of course he didn't record on this last album, but I always thought it was interesting that every album I buy there's someone new on it.

Matt:(laughing) Yeah.

Rory: Always the guitar player.

Samuel: But despite all this, you guys keep the No Use For A Name sound.

Rory: Yeah, that's one thing we've actually made an effort to not let that get to us and have changes then a thing where people are like "Oh man! Lead guitar player really fucked shit up." Then again, it's the same singer, same guitar player, same bass player, and same drummer for the last two albums, so how much can you really change, you know?

Samuel: Well, I've been listening since way back, and you can always tell the sound. You don't even have to hear Tony's vocals, it's like "This is a No Use For A Name album".

Rory: Yeah, you get the downstroke hard guitar, heavy fast drums, Tony's voice, you hear alot going on on the side with the melody.

Samuel: See, that's what I really dig, You have the old California sound. Everything now days is so poppy, like Blink-182 and Unwritten Law coming out, everything is a lot more pop oriented. It's nice to hear someone actually keep with the old style.

Rory: Well, Blink is poppy, but they're still punk rock.

Matt:(taking a few seconds to stop strumming)And I don't think Unwritten Law isn't that poppy, they're more like a metal band. They're a good band.

Samuel: Oh, I love Blink and Unwritten Law. Pop isn't necessarily bad. We have a lot of bands from here venturing out to California to make it big, and find stardom.

Matt: That's great.

Rory: Well, whatever it takes sometimes?

Samuel: Well, is it conscious when you get a new player in that, this is how it's gonna be. Because in a lot of cases when a band gets a new member they can totally have a new sound by the next record.

Rory: Well, with Dave, we had a new album and he joined a week before we left on tour, and it was pretty much like "You have to play this." I mean you can do whatever you want, but this is how it sounds out, it's very tight.

Samuel: Right, but I mean when they come in and you record the next album with them and it's not really different. Usually you can hear a drastic change in the sound.

Rory: Well, that's how it was with the lead guitars. With Chris Dodge on lead guitars who really wasn't a lead guitarist. Then We had this girl Robin who was an amazing soloist, and had her own flavor. Then we had Ed Gregor, and he had a total different aspect of the guitar things he did. Then Chris and now Dave. Chris had a whole nuther slu of things. He pretty much learned a lot from playing with No Use For A Name, and he was totally influenced by different bands. So yeah, there are six albums with four different guitar players. Well, lead guitar players. Which is cool actually in that aspect musically in it adds a bit of originality. Where if it was a drummer, you'd be able to tell it easier, or if it was vocals it'd be huge, but with the lead guitar player it's subtle. I think ever solo we have from the albums is totally unique.

Samuel: That is true in some cases where the solo has a more schooled sound and others it's more of a pound it out till it sounds right.

Matt and Rory:(laughter)

Samuel: Well, let me ask a question I got from someone on the internet. What is your take on a lot of punk bands totally crossing over to the pop route.

Rory: I dunno maybe it's a conscious effort on that bands part, could be them growing up and getting sick of the hardcore sound. I grew out of the hardcore sound years ago.

Matt: There's only so much hardcore you can listen to, so much yelling and screaming.

Rory: But granted there are some great pop punk bands, and some excellent hardcore bands, Sick Of It All and Good Riddance.

Samuel: I'm actually looking forward to seeing Good Riddance. I've never seen or heard them before, so it should be a great suprise.

Rory: They're cool

Matt: They're a great band, about as good as it gets.

Samuel: Part two of the question, Do you feel it has anything to do with pressure from major labels?

Matt: No.

Rory: No, labels now days pretty much realize that a punk band isn't gonna sign unless they do what they want. So it's pretty much you have freedom to do what you want, which is great.

Samuel: Which is pretty much forced now days because you have a lot of bands leaving to do strictly internet projects.

Matt: Well sure, that's why a lot of labels now are letting the bands have their way.

Samuel: Well, that kinda kills the last part of it.

Rory: Which is?

Samuel: Is that why you guys stick with Fat Wreck Chords?

Matt: Yeah, that pretty much says it in a nut shell. We get to do whatever we want and any choice we make they stand with.

Rory: I've been saying that for years, but it's the truth.

Samuel: I can say they've been one of the nicest labels we've worked with.

Rory: Yeah, they're always there for anyone. Whether it be the listener, someone who wants to do an interview, a 'zine, a record store, anything. They're great to their bands, and in return the bands tour a lot and turn out good albums. I mean yeah, there's some stuff you may not like on Fat Wreck Chords, but it's still usually pretty quality stuff. You know, the bands take their time and try to put out some quality stuff.

Samuel: I can honestly say I haven't picked up many bad albums from Fat Wreck

Rory: Right, it may not like it, it may not be your cup of tea, but it's pretty much gonna be quality stuff. In turn the bands tour like crazy. I mean there's not one band who doesn't tour a lot.

Samuel: I remember seeing Avail, who recently signed to Fat Wreck Chords, and they said they were well over 100 shows for the years.

Rory: Which is average for a Fat band.

Samuel: That's a lot of days on the road.

Rory: Yeah, we're gonna do at least that, what 260-270?

Samuel: That's pretty much a year on the road. Hell, you guys just got back from Europe right?

Rory: Yeah.

Matt: We just back a few weeks before this tour started we tour Canada and the northern states. Before that it was Europe, before that it was a whole tour with the Dance Hall Crashers.

Samuel: Yeah, I remember cussing my computer because the tour was going everywhere, and never making it south.

Rory: After this we have a month off and then we are going to Australia for a few weeks. Then we are going to do some touring in the western part of the states.

Samuel: How is it over in Australia? Is it bigger?

Rory: Well, it's the same size as the United States with the population of California.

Samuel: Well, I mean are the shows bigger a lot more people there?

Rory: Well, I haven't been there since '95 and things could have totally changed. But up to right now, I haven't been there for 4 or 5 years now, it's one of my favorite places to play. People are really nice.

Samuel: Well, I notice in tour tapes that in the US there will be 200 kids at a show and over in Europe there will be 500-1000.

Rory: You know what? The US is really catching up. I mean the US doesn't flack for shows. It used to be, you know, Detroit is really good, Austin is really good, LA is pretty good. Now it's like fuck, Boston is really good, Ney York is good, Florida is good. All the big cities in Texas, all over California, you can go to Alburquerque. I don't know what it is, maybe more accessability, more touring bands. Or if it's like it's really moving.

Samuel: Yeah, for the longest time in Houston, there weren't many bands, shows lacked a large number of fans, but in the last few years it's really been catching on.

Matt: Yeah, Houston's been good, I don't think we've really had a bad show here. you know, unless it's been a while ago. Population boom may have a lot to do with it.

Samuel: A lot more kids are getting into it. It's slowly filtering into the mainstream in small bits. Not too much, but like every 50 bands or so to break in, you'll have a punk band.

Matt: A lot more touring bands.

Rory: Touring used to be difficult, but now there are more booking clubs and good promoters.

Samuel: Yeah, growing up around here, it was hard to get good shows. Usually you had to drive to Austin. And it was a bitch driving 2.5 hours to go to see a band. Fitzgerald's has been it, a while we had the Abyss which I think you guys played at.(Tony walks through)

Rory: Tony have we ever played the Abyss?

Tony: Ummm, no, I really don't think so.

Rory: I think we've played Emo's. Well, Emo's is in Austin.

Samuel: No, there's an Emo's in Houston too.

Rory: Maybe we did play the Emo's here, I can't remember.

Samuel: Well, Fitz's is the best we've had.

Rory: It's kinda rocky, but it's good. Having a good PA now helps.

Samuel: Yeah, they finally got a new one, and they got an air conditioner that works now. That actually works.

Rory: Well, they're getting big. Is that it?

Samuel: Well, we could talk about other things, that's all I've got to say.

Rory: Pretty cool.

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Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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