Some people seem to have problems with numbers. Just ask Link 80 singer Ryan Noble. “One time, I was camping,” he says, “and I got to talking to these people. I told them I was in a band, and it’s called Link 80, and they said, ‘Blink 182?'”
Link 80 is a far cry from Blink 182’s pop punk sound. Their music is hard-hitting punk with two-tone ska, reggae, and hardcore influences. Every one of their songs features driving rhythms and a great horn section. I have trouble sitting still when Link 80 is playing. As if that weren’t enough, the lyrics are incredibly deep and meaningful for a young band.
I talked to Noble at the Plea for Peace tour stop in Melbourne. As we were walking back from the beach, we talked about the tour, jobs, former singer Nick Traina, and future plans for the band.
Noble said that the band signed on the Plea for Peace tour because they really liked and respected the other bands that were on tour, like Alkaline Trio, MU330, and Honor System. “We jumped at the chance when we heard about it,” he enthuses. All of the bands have been on Asian Man Records.
Link 80’s latest album is called The Struggle Continues. “I think everyone really tightened themselves as players on this one,” Noble reveals. If Struggle seems to have a more professional sound than Link 80’s previous albums, there’s good reason. “We recorded it in a real studio,” Noble says. In Noble’s opinion, the biggest challenge in recording the album was him learning all the material. “Stoney (a previous singer) didn’t work out, so I had to learn everything.”
In 1997, Link 80’s former singer, Nick Traina died of a heroin overdose. Traina, the son of world famous author Danielle Steele, was manic-depressive. Since then, Steele wrote a book about her son called His Bright Light, which some Link 80 members don’t agree with. “I didn’t read it, and I don’t think I want to read it,” Noble says. “But I do know that Nick was with Link 80 more than his family in the last few months of his life, so I’m sure Danielle doesn’t know every little story that happened with Nick.”
Noble feels like Link 80 isn’t to blame for what happened to Traina. “He was an amazing person,” Noble says. Traina’s memory lives on through various Web sites.
After the seriousness of that, I had to ask something that I had always been wondering. Does Link 80 make a living off of the band? “No, we don’t,” Noble says. “We all have small jobs back home, I think they’re all minimum wage.”
I also asked him where the name Link 80 came from. “All the original members lived off Interstate 80, so it was the link that joined them,” Noble discloses. I thought that was neat. “I don’t live off it,” he adds, “I live off of 580.”
Noble said that more touring is on the horizon. “We’ll probably tour until winter, then start writing new stuff,” he said. “We have three new songs.” He said that they are coming out with two split seven inches, one with the Lesdystics on Tomatohead Records, and one with Capdown on Household Name Records. Capdown is a British punk band that Link 80 played with when they were in Europe.
A cop came and told us that we couldn’t loiter in the parking lot anymore, so I wished Noble well and he left. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s coming out next from Link 80. It amazes me how strong they are after all they have been through. They couldn’t have picked a better name for their last album than The Struggle Continues.