Tony "Guardrail" Foresta of No Friends

Tony "Guardrail" Foresta of No Friends
Best known as the frontman for Richmond, Virginia thrash metallers Municipal Waste, vocalist Tony "Guardrail" Foresta is responsible for putting the "crossover" into the band's D.R.I.-meets-Nuclear Assault attack. Raised primarily on hardcore and old-school punk, he's the guy you'll see sporting a Gorilla Biscuits hoodie while the rest of his band are slathered in Razor, Slayer and Toxic Holocaust t-shirts. Therefore, it's no surprise that his vocal attack is reminiscent of Minor Threat, Black Flag and the odd Misfits rager. And it shouldn't be such a shock to hear that he has formed another band to occasionally play around in outside of his time with the Waste. Dubbed No Friends, the quartet is rounded out by the remnants of Orlando, Florida punk/hardcore mainstays New Mexican Disaster Squad (bassist Alex Goldfarb, drummer Richard Minino and guitarist Sam Johnson) after their dissolution in November 2008. Set to release their debut album via No Idea Records this summer, which they rightfully assert is influenced by/sounds like Dag Nasty, Black Flag, Minor Threat, the Damned and Adolescents, Foresta discusses how this collaboration came to be.

How did No Friends form?
Well I guess I called Richard one day to shoot the shit and he explained to me how New Mexican Disaster Squad (NMDS) was breaking up. I've been a huge fan and friend of the band for years and I always secretly wanted to be in involved somehow. It's really a huge coincidence how it worked and I guess I was just at the right place at the right time. I really wanted to be involved with something musically in Florida because that's where I grew up and my family lives there still. I'm really glad it worked out the way it did.

NMDS just called it quits in November of '08, and by late December you guys announced this band?
Yeah, NMDS played their last show at The Fest in Florida Halloween of '08. We were already talking about doing No Friends for a couple of months before that. It wasn't anything sneaky. Brian (Etherington, guitarist) just didn't want to play with NMDS anymore, so rather than keeping the name and moving on without him, they decided to call it quits and start something new. I think I was just at the right place at the right time.

What made you opt to work with another band on vocals as opposed to in a different capacity...say, playing an instrument?
I can't play any instruments (laughs). I just like singing and I wanted to be involved in something different musically. I love hardcore and punk and I've been itching for years to sing for a band like this.

How long have you guys been working on this? As in, is it very loose/relaxed or intense?
We started the band around last September. The idea originally was to hang out in the winter and write some songs and cut a 7-inch. We want this band to be a total "no stresser;" just a fun experience for everyone involved. We all have our full time bands, so we felt we should take things with this one at its own pace and see where it evolves. Next thing we knew, we had a full-length written by January and the writing hasn't seemed to slow up yet.

Where did you go to record?
Crescendo studios in Gainesville, Florida. I think a lot of the Gainesville bands have cut records there. Our friend Darren recorded and co-produced it. It was great working with him and I think that's where we're going to stay recording-wise.

Was it guerrilla-style? Like, in three days or something crazy?
Yeah, it took three days. We did most of the tracking in two days, then I came back a month later, finished vocals and mixed.

No Idea's set to release it. How did that connection come about?
NMDS has a tight relationship with No Idea. I have also have a history working with them as far as The Fest (an annual event in Florida) goes. I've also known Tony (Weinbender, label publicist) for years. I think working with No Idea was the perfect match to fit with our "No stress" outlook with this band. They also had a great interest in the project. It's always good to work with people that actually care about the music they release. Var (Thelin, label founder) even came down on the last day and helped us mix. So if it sounds shitty, blame Var!

How do you feel No Friends differs from both Municipal Waste and what was once NMDS?
No Friends draws our influences from a different place. We are more influenced by the early D.C. stuff like Dag Nasty and the Faith. I think our stuff sounds way different than our other projects, and that's a good thing. I think if it didn't sound different we would have no interest in even trying it.

So, with NMDS from Orlando and you from Richmond, how the fuck do you write, rehearse and record?
The writing process was way different from any other band I have done. We would just email songs back and forth and I would write my parts. Our first practice was amazing. We nailed the first song the first try. Vocals and all. After we played it, we all laughed because we were so shocked how easy it worked. None of us had played those songs in the same room together ever. We all just practised to recordings by ourselves and it worked out.

Tell me about writing the album? How do you guys craft the songs? Any particular goals for sound/style or did you wing it and make the connections after?
I think we just went with it. We love older punk and hardcore and we knew we wanted to do something along those lines. I trust those guys judgement because I know they are super-smart and creative musicians. We knew we wanted to do something older sounding but put our own twist on it.

What are you hoping to achieve with No Friends? Do you want to keep it underground or attain something greater?
The only thing we are trying to achieve is to have fun and create music that we love. Hopefully people will dig it...if not we're still going to do it.

Most people would understand that you're a punk/hardcore fan, but you're primarily known for metal. Do you think the crossover will work? What do you expect?
Like I said, I'm not really concerned about winning people over with this band. I like the way it sounds. I have a great time playing in this band and writing these songs. I'm not trying to change any metal-heads into hardcore fans or anything. I just want to play. It's what I love to do.

Do you think the bands you guys are known for will help promote No Friends or cause aggravation (people expecting something different/frustration as a "side project" for you while the other guys are broken up, et cetera)?
I would be lying if I thought it wouldn't, but yeah, I'm sure people will pick up the record just because of the fact that we play (or played) in these other bands. I don't mind that though. We're not going to be playing live as often as our other bands so getting the word out that way could be a good thing I guess. But if people are expecting another thrash band or another NMDS they could be disappointed. We're trying to do something different here and I think we succeeded. The other guys in No Friends all have current full-time bands as well, so it's not like they are waiting around for me to jam or anything. Sam sings and plays guitar in Virgins while Richard and Alex play in Gatorface. Check 'em out. Very good stuff.

Anything you'd like to add?
Thanks a ton for your interest. Come to Best Friends Day in Richmond. It will be one of No Friends few shows this year!