1980s power balladeer and one-time punk Belinda Carlisle said it best; heaven is a place …
For most people reading this, the legend of NOFX is something we’ve looked up to for most of our (musically-awoken) lives. The Punk outfit outgrew the shackles of the scene becoming a household name in the process, and we will happily fight anyone who says otherwise.
The band earned their respect from peers, fans and the industry with their intense sound and volatile lyrics. A savage mix which contains just as many fags as ever, if not more. With the dust yet to settle on their latest record First Ditch Effort, NOFX will be gracing our shores as part of the inaugural Download Festival this weekend, with their own headline shows to boot.
Speaking with NOFX long-time drummer Erik “Smelly” Sandin, we get a clear picture that Download Australia won’t just be the regular nine-to-five grind for the band. “We get to have fun and do what we want to do, and we just happen to make a living from doing it.”
“Playing these weird festivals”, Eric Adds, “it’s cool to see all the different people, and it’s a different experience than playing clubs. It’s a much different experience, and since we’re the odd punk band on the bill, that is really fun for me because now we stick out like a sore thumb. For better or for worse, it’s always cool not blending in with the music, being something a little bit different.”
Delving into Eric’s differences between sprawling festival shows, and tight, sweaty club shows, he explains the larger events have “A different energy”, he adds “I think I actually enjoy festivals a little more because we play them less often… It’s like if you eat chocolate cake every day, every once in a while when you get vanilla ice cream, it’s like, “Oh wow! This is cool.”
With decades-worth of material under their belt and a solid grasp of what does and doesn’t work live, it’s not an easy task for NOFX to piece together a set list. When pushed for what they have in store for their Aussie fans, Eric confessed “I don’t even fuckin’ know, dude. I just play drums … we figure out what we’re gonna play a half hour before we’re gonna play…”
This one time in France we played this black metal festival, where all these bands from Sweden and Norway just singing about fucking raping goats and chewing children foreskins. We went out there and played an all-jazz set, and reggae set…, it went down phenomenal.
[ Eric Sandin ]
“There definitely will be some classics, and there’ll definitely be a lot of curve balls, especially if we’re playing an odd festival that’s not our genre of music. We try and make it even that much different. There’s been times when we’ve played, like this one time in France we played this black metal festival, where all these bands from Sweden and Norway just singing about fucking raping goats and chewing children foreskins. We went out there and played an all-jazz set, and reggae set…, it went down phenomenal.”
Though on lookers may not be able to tell, Eric did admit that it is somewhat of a head trip going back in time to perform their classics from the 90s, such as the gems contained on the cult classic Punk In Drublic, then back to the future with material on their latest release.
“I definitely feel that there’s two different styles of my playing when it comes to them, ’cause the older stuff is a bit faster and a bit more complicated for drums. And the newer stuff is a little slower. Even though it’s still playing fast, it’s a little slower and a little bit more straightforward because it got … I don’t know. So, it’s almost like there’s chapter one and chapter two.”
Indeed, Chapter 3 is something that is starting to take form. Though the band have no solid plans on how, when, or where they’ll follow up First Ditch Effort–and Eric again confessing his position at the back of the stage limits his knowledge of such things–the band are well aware it’s about that time. “We’re probably about due to start working on a new record, but we haven’t really talked about it, you know?”
Eric adds that Australia very well could be the bands muse for this next record. “In Australia and we have time to be around each other, and sit around and talk and plan stuff out, I’m sure that’ll be a discussion then.”
“When you get away from all the distractions, and it’s just you and the rest of the guys in the band sitting in a room, you start talking about like what direction we wanna go, all this kind of stuff, and so that’s when a lot of the serious thinking and the planning gets done.”
NOFX are also aware that with the current state of the world, the next offering from the band will most likely go straight for the jugular of it all. “Oh man. You know, it’s a pretty volatile time”, Eric adds. “Mike’s pretty frickin’ witty when it comes to the lyrics. So, I betcha there’ll be some good stuff.”
NOFX will also be playing the following Download Sideshows with special guests Hot Water Music, Bad Cop / Bad Cop and Dad Religion
Thursday March 22, Riverstage, Brisbane QLD
Friday March 23, Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW