By Steven Yuen
No Flow has been around for quite a bit of time. One of their first shows was in a basement owned by the family of a friend. It was unoccupied, unfurnished, and in complete disarray. There was rat shit everywhere, and a friend of the band lost his virginity under the broken pool table in the house. For a quick minute, the house was frequented by heroin addicts. A fan’s mother even got roofied once while drinking beer. It got to the point where the local police department checked in on the house quite often.
Fast forward 10 years—No Flow has come out with their second full-length album, Lucky Day. Without a doubt, this is their cleanest-sounding release, as well as the first album that was professionally recorded and mixed. What started as a small Ska-Punk band that played basements has become an outfit that has opened for the likes of Bad Brains’ HR among others.
Lucky Day starts out with the instantly recognizable sound bite of Bill O’Reilly freaking out then fades into their track, “Playing the Fool.” It sets the tone for the whole album with their signature sound that is self-described and obviously very influenced by Reel Big Fish, earlier Green Day, and Sublime.
Their second track, “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” hearkens that basement and drinking Miller High Life that was collectively shoplifted. It’s reminiscent of Blink-182—if Blink-182 sang about raver girls and spending the night in jail. A lot of the album is slower, and their reggae influence is easier to pick out. However, it’s quite ambitious compared to their first full length, Chemistry, which was recorded in their friend’s living room.
The strongest track, “Reckless,” radiates a level of honesty that is lacking in a fair amount of music today. It touches on, in the words of the song, being “reckless and horny”—qualities a lot of people are able to relate to. I was able to sit down with their singer, Zach, who goes by Josey, and chat about Lucky Day, the history of No Flow, but most importantly, talking girls and drugs.
Subversive: Hey, Josey, you just played the Catalyst in Santa Cruz this last week. Did you ever feel like you would have reached that level?
Josey: I never felt like I’d reach that level growing up, you know. I never thought we’d play the Catalyst. We didn’t gig for a really long time, and we really started putting everything together last three years. Since then, we’ve played every fucking place you can think of in the Bay Area and up and down the West Coast.
Subversive: So where on the West Coast have you played?
Josey: We actually went on our first tour this last summer to every gnarly shithole in the Pacific Northwest. We played the shittiest, most awful places you could ever think of with the craziest, fucking people I’ve ever met my life. Crazy north western people, but you end up really loving it. We played a great place called The Mirkwood and Shire up in Arlington, Washington, with the house band, The Skablins—great group of people.
Subversive: So this was all in support of Lucky Day?
Josey: Yeah, it was all for Lucky Day. We called it the “Mojo Tour” since we all graduated from college and we’re all returning to the band full time to get our mojo back.
Subversive: Does that end up paying your bills?
Josey: Some of them, but I also sell pot and work at a pizza shop as a day job.
Subversive: Legally sell, you mean?
Josey: Oh, yeah. Of course.
Subversive: So Lucky Day sounds much more produced than the raw sound of your first release, Chemistry. How did those two albums differ for you?
Josey: They differ fundamentally in the sense of quality of sound. Lucky Day was done in a real studio. Chemistry was recorded in our friend’s living room. We ran through it in 10 hours. Each song had two or three takes at the most. Lucky Day was in a real studio, and we were fucked up and really hung over the whole time. We started recorded recording at eight in the morning and laid down multiple tracks, overdubs, and multiple vocal takes.
Subversive: A lot of your music tends to be centered around women—including ones I know personally. Care to elaborate on any of that?
Josey: Michael (bassist) and I write from personal experience. So you know that revolves around girls and girlfriends and ex-girlfriends. There’re a lot of problems with him and I, and the women we tend to involve ourselves with. The song, Machete, is about this girl I was involved with on and off in Santa Cruz when I was living there. It was one of the worst, most poisonous and toxic relationships I’ve ever been in. She would go back and forth between me and the bass player from a really (really) popular pop-punk band from Walnut Creek. She knew him and went out with him, and she’s always used that as leverage against me for some fucked up reason to get under my skin. He was doing what I want to do except on a much higher and more popular level, both musically and in terms of popularity.
Subversive: Did she say she likes you better? Maybe “Fuck an Apology”?
Josey: Yeah, according to her. I always make the joke, “Come on, he plays bass and I’m the guitar player.”
Subversive: So that aside, what’s next for you?
Josey: Well we’ve written the whole, brand new record and then some. So right now, we’re currently gigging every week, making money, and we got to make the executive decision of either buying a van for touring or recording this next record. I think we’re going to go with the van to be able to go on tour this summer again. We’re going to go South, down into the the more southern states and hit Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and fucking Florida and then come back and then finish up a new record by the end of the year.
Subversive: Sounds ambitious. Let’s leave to make last call!