R.E.M.’S Prolific Scott McCaughey On THE NO ONES Band

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Interview by John Wisniewski

The No Ones, a bi-continental collaboration featuring Scott McCaughey, Frode Strømstad, Peter Buck and Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen, is a band that stretches from the southwest of Norway through Athens, Georgia to the northwest corner of the USA, consisting of members from I Was A King, The Minus 5, The Baseball Project and R.E.M.

Scott McCaughey, who was downed by a life-threatening Stroke In November 2017  during a day off with the Minus 5 — who were playing on their own and backing Texas songwriter Alejandro Escovedo — hasn’t let that slow his creativity down one bit, and luckily did not lose the ability to play the guitar.

Scott tells us more about the formation of The No Ones


John Wisniewski:  How many bands have you been in Scott?
Scott Mcaughey: 1970s -Vannevar Bush, The Differential Analyzers, Hannibal’s Chorus Boys,Silver Creek, The Sandbaggers/Vic Paradise

Young Fresh Fellows – 1981 to present (new album coming in June 2020)
The Squirrels – 1984 – ?, The Minus 5 – 1994 to present, R.E.M. – 1994 – 2011 (all the tours from Monster to end; all albums from New Adventures In HiFi to Collapse Into Now)

Roy Loney & The Longshots (1996 – 2020),Tuatara – 1997 to ??, The Love Beats, New Original Sonic Sound /New Strychnines, The Baseball Project – 2007 to present, Robyn Hitchcock & Venus 3 – 2006 to 2013, Tired Pony – 2009 to ??, Filthy Friends – 2014 to present, The No Ones – 2016 to present

I’m sure to be forgetting some…

John Wisniewski:  when did The No On’s form? Please tell us the story
Scott McCaughey: I think Peter Buck and I got to know Frode and Arne via I Was A King and Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, and playing festivals in Norway in Egersund, and then in Vadsø, at an amazing series of gatherings up there above the Arctic Circle, called Ice Station/Sun Station/Snow Station, depending on time of year.  Frode asked Peter and I to overdub some long distant guitar and bass on a few songs (2016?) and I loved the songs, and noticed some of them didn’t have finished lyrics.  I asked Frode if he’d mind if I tried to write some, and he said YES.  Then it blossomed into something like a band!

John Wisniewski: How did you meet Peter Buck?
Scott McCaughey: First time was outside the Paramount in Seattle when he was getting on or off of REM tour bus.  I came to give him a copy of a YFF 45 or the album by my other band The Squirrels.  I think!  Then we just kept running into each other at shows in Athens and elsewhere.  We liked the same music, so it was easy to become friends.  We hung out a lot when R.E.M. was working on Automatic For The People in Seattle in 1992.  It went from there, on and on… tons of music together in the years since!

John Wisniewski: Any favorite bands?
Scott McCaughey: I’m not sure if you mean ANY bands, but I’ll just answer for ME. There are too many favorite bands in history of rock and music in general.  Right NOW I’m digging The Rolling Stones, Sun Ra Arkestra, Neil Young, Jenny Lewis, NRBQ, Dream Syndicate, La Luz, Neko Case, Eyelids, Irma Thomas, Dead Moon, Sadies, Jonathan Richman & Modern Lovers, Pretty Things, Bob Dylan, etc.

John Wisniewski: Will you be playing any live dates?
Scott McCaughey: We WERE.  Everything is canceled pretty much. We’ve just heard that Roskilde is canceled, and so it looks like everything will move to next year for No Ones, in Europe and hopefully U.S.   Sun Station Vadsø is re-scheduled for March 2021 and we’ll re-do our club tour of Norway then too.

John Wisniewski: Who is the songwriter of the band?
Scott McCaughey: All of us write the songs.  A lot of them start with Frode and Arne sending guitar/drums demos.  Sometimes Peter has the music. I write most of the lyrics but I’m encouraging everyone to join in!

John Wisniewski: What lies in the future for you and The No Ones?
Scott McCaughey:  Our plan was to start recording our second album in July this year in Norway.  We have some new songs already.  But now, who knows what will happen?  For sure though, we’ll keep going, creating from our basements if nowhere else!!

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