Toaster in the Bathtub
A big part of the reason that we choose "Toaster In The Bathtub" for Tony's tribute album had to do with a conversation that I had with Fat Mike about Tony's solo records. We agreed that those songs deserved to have more light shed on them and that Anti-Flag should cover one.
When I set out to choose one of Tony's solo songs I was strongly influenced by a conversation I was lucky enough to be present for between Tony and an interviewer many years ago when a very young Anti-Flag was opening for No Use For Name on a US tour in '98 or '99. The interviewer asked Tony about a particular No Use For Name song. I don't remember which song but I remember the question and the answer, "Who's this song about? You? And what's the exact meaning of the song?" Tony answered (and I paraphrase) that the song in question was written to be intensely personal but he didn't want to say that it was about a particular person or topic in that he wanted people to interpret the song for themselves so that they could find a meaning in the song that related to their own life experience. He felt that leaving the song open for people to create their own meaning from it made the song more powerful and special to the listener. I had never heard anyone say anything like this. At the time it was a real revelation to me and from that day forward it seriously influenced the way I thought about artistic expression and interpretation. It's a memory that flashes thoughts of Tony Sly through my head almost every time I do an interview and very often when I write songs. I have literally said to myself, "What would Tony Sly do here?" It's a powerful example of the fact that just a short moment with an exceptional human being can have an influence on you for the rest of your life.
As I went through Tony's solo songs that brief yet influential answer I heard him give so many years ago kept running through my head. Then "Toaster In The Bathtub" came ringing out of the speakers. In typical Tony Sly fashion it's an intensely introspective song and one in which I immediately found personal meaning! It got me thinking, "How many times had I been the lesser half of a relationship? What could I do to be better?" The verses are a resolute admission of self failure while the chorus strikes me as a challenge to not give up and instead do the work necessary to make a change for the better. I found the song saying to me, "Take a look in the mirror… Don't like what you see? Don't simply give up! Get off your ass and try harder!" That's a message that I need to hear from time to time and a big part of the reason that I wanted to cover "Toaster In The Bathtub."
When we set out to cover one of Tony's solo songs I had the idea in the back of my head to stay in the vein that Tony had set for the majority of his solo music, but it struck me how the melody of the verses and the big anthematic chorus would translate great to a rockin' punk song - very much in the vain of a song I would expect Tony to write for No Use For A Name. With that in mind the four members of Anti-Flag got together and poured ourselves into an interpretation of the song that resonates the elements of No Use For A Name that have been most influential to each of us.
In the end our version radiates the influence that Tony and No Use had and continue to have over us individually and collectively and for that reason this recording is very special to us.