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After nearly 40 years as a band, Los Angeles punk icons NOFX still find ways to surprise.
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From the confirmation of the band calling it a day via an innocuous social media comment in place of an official announcement, to releasing a double album this year, the aptly titled Double Album dropping on Friday 2 December via Fat Wreck Chords, 2022 has certainly proven to be an action-packed year for the blazing quartet.
From their early days in the 80s to leading the charge of the punk rock renaissance in the 90s, NOFX have remained one of the most sonically diverse and thematically engaging bands of their generation; all delivered with lashings of trademark humour and some good-natured razzing aimed at their fellow modern punk contemporaries along the way.
With the group imminently set to hit Australia this December to appear at Good Things Festival, also coinciding with the release of Double Album, NOFX are poised to launch into their 40th year as a band as relentlessly busy as ever; but with rumours of another half album to accompany both Double Album and its 2021 predecessor Single Album, and intensive farewell shows to come, NOFX frontman Fat Mike spent a moment with Hysteriamag.com to dive deeper into the past, present, and future of everyone’s favourite self-deprecating punk legends.
“It’s a double and a half,” Fat Mike says of the overall material joining Single Album and Double Album in the near future. “NOFX finally did a double album basically because I thought I could do it, I thought I could make a good double album. But after three and a half years it wasn’t there.”
“I’m glad Single Album turned out so cool,” Fat Mike continues,” it’s got such a weird feeling to the whole album, and it got reviewed very well. But if we had released that one as two albums at the time – it would’ve been confusing. This way it’s not confusing. Double Album is the funny and fast songs, and it’s not so introspective.”
Boasting tales of dominatrixes, booking agents, rehab, Stephen Hawking, a song dropped from a blink-182 album, and beyond, Double Album is equally NOFX as you know and love them, while also unashamedly flexing the irreverent, comical chaos that often comes with the NOFX territory.
When you get ghosted by a band … I mean Mark and Tom would be at every NOFX show when they were in blink before they got big, every NOFX show. And then I always went to blink shows; and then they just kinda stopped coming.
[ Fat Mike ]
“Double Album has the funniest song we ever wrote, which was Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?,” enthuses Fat Mike. “It’s the funniest song ever. I just saw Stephen Hawking on TV one time, and the line emerged for me: ‘He’s so lazy / He could only write A Brief History of Time’. It’s just fucking funny. And the other line I love is: ‘Even his teeth are starting to sag’. Teeth don’t sag?! That song just made me laugh when I was writing it, and NOFX don’t have funny songs really. Our serious songs are just funny live.”
Having recently moved to Las Vegas, where he is set to open the world’s first Punk Rock Museum, Fat Mike is certainly keeping busy in and beyond the world of NOFX as the band turn their gaze to slowly bring their (soon to be) 40 year career to a close. And his adoration for exploring comedy isn’t solely reserved for the impending release of Double Album, with the larger-than-life frontman recently also dipping his toes into the world of stand up comedy.
“I’m doing stand up too,” grins Fat Mike when chatting about channelling comedy into Double Album. “And it’s hard! I’ve never been so nervous. I did it in LA, and I spent 10 days writing material, I had five routines and every day I was writing new shit. It was fun!”
“I had one little heckler, but I shut him down so much.”
As to what a Fat Mike stand up set possibly might entail in the future? For anyone in the Fat Mike know, it comes as little surprise much of his material may end up being NSFW.
“Here’s a routine I did not do in my set,” says Fat Mike, his eyes dancing mischievously. “Do we have any caesareans out there? Oh, a few caesareans, I’m a caesarean too. How did you find out you’re a caesarean? Oh! Your mother told you. My mother didn’t tell me until one night when we were spooning in bed. I say: “Mum, am I a caesarean?”. She goes: “Yeah, honey, you were, why do you ask?”. And I say: “Well, because your pussy’s so tight, I figured that I didn’t come out that way”.
“It might be in a future set, maybe,” Fat Mike continues. “Is it too dark? I think the funny part is the spooning line. It’s a throwaway line, but the image …!”.
Coinciding with the release of Double Album on Friday 2 December, NOFX will also be appearing onstage at Good Things Festival, with the Melbourne edition taking place on the same day as the album’s release, before Sydney and Brisbane follow across the weekend. Billed as performing their 1994 breakout album Punk In Drublic in full as well as multiple fan favourites at the festival, Fat Mike hasn’t been shy in declaring that the sets may or may not adhere to the plan on the day.
“It doesn’t matter does it, I do the fuck what I want, I’ll write the set list that night!” Fat Mike says of what the NOFX Good Things Shows will actually entail. “I mean, Punk In Drublic … it’s in our top five maybe. But who the fuck wants to hear all of those songs? We may not play anything off the new album, but we’ll at least play something off The War On Errorism.”
“And that brings me to our last tour,” Fat Mike continues. “We’re gonna play every song, every album, every song that we’ve ever recorded. Every city that we play is gonna have 40 different songs.”
And it’s the topic of the last ever NOFX shows on the horizon that finds Fat Mike dropping his more comical guard. And, as he touched on the final and extensive nights planned in Los Angeles to bring the NOFX story to a full-circle close, some very real tears welled up in the punk legend’s often mischievous eyes.
“I’ve never been so excited to play,” Fat Mike reveals about the farewell NOFX shows that will coincide with the group’s 40th anniversary. “Two years ago or before COVID, I was like: “Oh, we’ve got a show, urgh”. And seriously before those shows – I didn’t wanna play. I drink and do drugs just to get on stage. And I listen to punk rock which really helps, actually. Listening to Rudimentary Peni and Subhumans and Adolescents makes me wanna go onstage. But it’s been a long time and I’m tired of performing the same fucking songs.”
“But then when we played Vancouver and Edmonton … we knew it was the last time we’d ever play there, and we just fucking kicked ass! We were on fire, and at the end I said: “Thank you for coming to see us for so many years”. And I just started bawling.”
“Now, I’m so excited to play our last shows because they’re gonna be very special. And the final shows in Los Angeles will be three nights, 120 songs, and so many bands have asked to be on those last shows. I’m gonna be crying all day. I’m actually crying now thinking about it.”
I’m a big supporter of their band. And I was really fucking heartbroken when they dropped the song from the album. I just want the story to be told. I don’t lie, and I like to tell stories that are true. I know they’re gonna be bummed at me, but get over it.
[ Fat Mike ]
With 14 full length albums, millions of record sales, and a formidable touring history that spans the globe, NOFX’s undeniable legacy as one of the leaders during the 90s punk rock resurgence is made even more impressive given their status as independent trailblazers, never once signing to a major label throughout their storied tenure. And while the band have spend decades playing their hits and fan-favourites time and time again, for Fat Mike, a few key NOFX songs still resonate for him personally after all this time.
“There’s a lot,” says Fat Mike of some NOFX tracks he still loves to play live. “I adore playing The Decline. I love playing Herojuana. I also love playing Falling in Love. And I love playing The Separation of Church and Skate and Quart In Session.”
“Some songs just make me so angry on stage. Well, maybe not angry, but with The Separation of Church and Skate, I’m just fucking yelling! And Six Years on Dope too, I love it! That’s why it’ll be so exciting to play every song we’ve ever written for the last shows.”
One track that will certainly get a run during the last ever NOFX shows, and also one that will be featured on the upcoming Double Album, is the jangly tune Punk Rock Cliche; a track Fat Mike originally penned with Matt Skiba just after Skiba was announced as Tom DeLonge’s replacement in blink-182. With the track previously recorded and intended to appear on blink’s album featuring Skiba, titled California, Punk Rock Cliche was notably absent on the 2016 release, despite the fact that drummer Travis Barker had publicly announced to the press that the track was a standout on the album prior to California leaping into the world.
I have four records in the can,” Fat Mike adds. “So, Double Album comes out, and then our new album which I really like, it’s called Everybody Else Is Insane. And then we’ll have two more records called NOFX A to Z.
[ Fat Mike ]
With NOFX eventually deciding to record their own version, and realising it wasn’t the right fit for Single Album, Punk Rock Cliche finally will see the light of day on an album this December thanks to Double Album; but perplexingly for Fat Mike, there’s been radio silence from the blink camp ever since the track was removed from California.
“I think they’re pissed at me, and I don’t know why” says Fat Mike of the unknowns surrounding the lack of contact from blink-182 since the Punk Rock Cliche situation. “When you get ghosted by a band … I mean Mark and Tom would be at every NOFX show when they were in blink before they got big, every NOFX show. And then I always went to blink shows; and then they just kinda stopped coming.”
“We’d played together, and Travis played on Cokie the Clown, it was all good. But then contact stopped after this song. I thought I should bring it up, because it really bummed me out.”
“I haven’t been talking shit,” Fat Mike continues, “they’re a good band, they’re great dudes. But I think the story should be heard because it’s kind of funny. It’s just funny. We’re their band, we were their band. They were the band that took the NOFX sound and made it commercial. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. We would’ve never done it, I don’t have it in me. When they made that boy band video, it was so fucking funny. But we wouldn’t have done that, so good for them!”
“I’m a big supporter of their band. And I was really fucking heartbroken when they dropped the song from the album. I just want the story to be told. I don’t lie, and I like to tell stories that are true. I know they’re gonna be bummed at me, but get over it.”
But while the blink-182 situation may be currently less than rosy and the NOFX story is starting to conclude, there’s still plenty of other exciting musical prospects on the horizon for Fat Mike.
“I’m so stoked about this, I just did a string quartet album called Fat Mike Gets Strung Out,” Fat Mike says with a huge smile. “And that is making my brain happier than anything I’ve ever done.”
“I wrote four and five parts for strings, and arranged some NOFX songs too, some songs from my musical Home Sweet Home, and some new songs in there too. I’m a mathematician more than anything else. And it’s those vibrations, they make my brain go crazy!”
And for NOFX fans lamenting the recent confirmation that the hallowed LA punks will be hanging up their collective hats over the coming year, never fear – there’s still a whole lotta NOFX goodness on the cards before the band take their final curtain call.
“I have four records in the can,” Fat Mike adds. “So, Double Album comes out, and then our new album which I really like, it’s called Everybody Else Is Insane. And then we’ll have two more records called NOFX A to Z. For the past 10 years, I’ve been preparing a song where every song title starts with a different letter of the alphabet. A few songs are older songs, but it’s a really cool album because it’s demos of a few songs and also tonnes of new songs. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for 10 years.”
In the meantime, fans can catch the full might of NOFX when they join the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Deftones, TISM and many more in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in early December for Good Things Festival. And Fat Mike is certainly excited to head back down under, particularly to see some of the locals.
“I can’t stop,” says Fat Mike of his extremely busy schedule in the lead up to visiting Australia. “That’s why I see dominatrixes, because the only time my brain stops is when I’m getting hurt so bad that I can’t think about anything else.”
“And I’m so excited to come to Australia,” concludes Fat Mike. “I like Australians. And I like the dominatrixes there too. The doms that I know there … fuck yeahhhhh. It’s been a while because I’ve been with women, but I’m single right now.”
“But there’s one there, I wonder if she still does it, Mistress Tokyo. Look her up, give her a call from me and say Fat Mike says hi. She’s fucking gnarly, I gotta call her.”