Runner Up gets ready to fly

“You ran something on old-school punk bands,” the woman on the line was saying, referring to Christian Kiefer’s March 11 cover story on 7Seconds. “Now you should tell your readers about the new school.”

It turned out that the woman was a local publicist and that she had some good friends who were starting a new record label. One of those friends was Tony Sly, the guitar-playing, singing and songwriting frontman for longtime Bay Area pop-punk band No Use for a Name, which has released seven albums, most of them on the San Francisco-based label Fat Wreck Chords. Sly moved to Roseville three years ago, priced out of the Bay Area’s overheated real-estate market. Sly’s business partner is a childhood chum named Austin Lee, a Sacramento public-relations executive who grew up with Sly in a Silicon Valley suburb, Los Altos. And, in the sense that married partners can be good friends, the woman on the phone turned out to be Lee’s wife.

Runner Up Records is the name of Sly and Lee’s joint venture. The duo envisions the label to be a Sacramento version of what Sub Pop or Lookout meant to their respective scenes. “There’s a lot of talent up here, but there’s no one as much as we had hoped,” Lee said, citing a dearth of venues and record labels. He mentioned a Guttermouth show here last summer, which resulted in the proverbial light-bulb moment. “It was a weekday show, and it was jampacked,” he said. “These kids are just hungry for music up here.”

“We’re just going to shows constantly now,” Sly added. “I’m looking for new, exciting punk bands, something fresh—hopefully, something that hasn’t been done too much.”

(To be fair, a number of long-established local punk labels, like Scott Soriano’s Moo-La-La, have been documenting the area’s decidedly less-commercial punk scene for years.)

Runner Up Records’ first signing is Another Day Off, which Sly found at a Rancho Cordova rehearsal space he’d lined up to whip his own band into shape for a tour. “I heard them from down the hall, in between our songs,” he said. “I thought, ‘That sounds great!’” Sly has steered Another Day Off into a Bay Area studio because he likes the sound the engineer gets on No Use’s recordings. No release date is set, and Runner Up still has to firm up distribution.

If you’re curious as to what Runner Up’s pop-punk aesthetic will sound like, No Use for a Name and Another Day Off will be playing Monday, April 5, at the Boardwalk, 9426 Greenback Lane in Orangevale. Also on the bill is Five Minute Ride, the very good teen punk band signed to Eric Rushing’s 720 Records, which played the recent Jammies show. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.; tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show. The appearance will be a tune-up for No Use’s appearance on Carson Daly’s show on April 7.

And if this sounds like your band’s kind of label, be sure to bring a demo.