Dan O'Mahony: Answer and Questions
Dan O'Mahony, front man of Huntington Beach straight-edge outfit No for an Answer, is a cornerstone in the history of OC hardcore, especially known for barking out scathing, socially charged lyrics. Since the '90s, he has expressed similar ideals through spoken word, using hyper-personal stories such as those of his mother's death and his marital troubles. He's speaking for the first time at a record store as part of TKO Records' Punk Rock Pizza Party series.
The label will release a super-rare new recording from No for an Answer at the event, the band's first release in more than 20 years. When we spoke to O'Mahony in anticipation of the show, he noted good-naturedly that the EP was getting more buzz than the event itself.
OC Weekly: Where do you draw the content for your spoken-word act from?
Dan O'Mahony: I've been lucky enough to live a fairly unusual life. I was able to do nothing but music as a musician and a columnist for Maximum Rocknroll. My family has always been a colorful cast of characters. For the event at TKO, because it's a punk record store and I'm supporting a punk-rock record, I'm going to focus on war stories from back in the day.
How did you hook up with TKO?
I used to train [TKO owner] Mark Rainey when I was a personal trainer. We'd lift weights together, which is a very jock response for a couple of 6-foot-whatever, tattooed beasts. He was always a fun guy to be with. We had decades of shared history.
What came first, the show or the new seven-inch?
He called and said they'd had two decent punk men do the record stores and want more of a hardcore direction. He asked me to do it; I was honored. He tried to think of a way to promote the show and asked if No for an Answer had any unreleased recordings. I said no and shot it down. Within a half-hour of getting off the phone, I realized we had two songs we'd always regretted not recording.
It's completely unreleased material. It's three songs with one new one about how you take the ethos from that scene in the '80s out of the clubs and implement it in your current life. The record is two anti-racism anthems and one song about getting old.
What was it like being in the studio again?
One of the songs, "Man Against Man," I knocked out in one take. I hadn't sung in two years, and I hadn't been in a recording studio in 12. My voice held up real well. The other guys, they've been playing for 25 [years]. They had no problem. It was really fun.
Is it something you guys would consider doing again?
No. [Laughs]. We got offered a European tour within days of even sticking our heads above ground, which was hilarious to me. We used to bust our asses for years and save every penny. Now, you can be doing something with your free time, and the world comes to you. It's a tribute to how much the media has changed. The idea of going to Europe on someone else's dime is always flattering, but we have kids, and John and I are extremely blue-collar and need every penny that comes in. Disappearing for six weeks is a real roll of the dice, financially.
What are your thoughts on the Pizza Party Series?
It's something TKO has been doing to keep things casual, to not create a pseudo-rock-star appearance when having people talk at the store. That said, it drives my artsy-fartsy sensibilities nuts doing a pizza party. It's okay; I'm able to laugh about it.
This column appeared in print as "Answer and Questions."
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