Still going strong after all of these drunken years, NOFX are back in the punk rock spotlight. Fat Mike agreed to do an interview with us over at The Aquarian. Quite a surprise since he is not only one truly busy man (juggling two bands, family, and a record label) but also adamantly against doing interviews (usually).
The man behind Fat Wreck Chords who brought Anti-Flag and Against Me! to recent fame, is also the lead singer and bassist for one of the most influential, well- known, and flat out hilarious punk bands in history. They have two releases coming out in the very near future and a huge headlining club tour (an even rarer occasion than getting an interview with Mike) all planned to begin in next month. If you are unaware of who Fat Mike is, go buy NOFX’s Punk In Drublic and read along as Fat Mike talks about President Bush, the Warped Tour, and his love for alcohol.
Business first, you have a new teaser EP coming out in March and a full-length coming out sometime this year. Who’s putting them out and who produced them?
Well, it is a NOFX record, that’s for sure. It was recorded in Motor City Studios. Bill Stevenson (drummer of The Descendents) helped out with recording. I know that every band goes out and says that their new record is the best but I won’t do that just because I do not know. It’s got some comedy, religion hating, and politics type songs on it.
Being a fan of yours, the last time you played a headlining club show as NOFX was about four years ago. You have a new highly anticipated tour starting soon with The Lawrence Arms, yet, you can usually be seen playing the Warped Tour just about every year. Do you prefer the Warped Tour atmosphere over a headlining gig?
Well, first off we can only play the Warped Tour every other year. We really do not take this thing too seriously. We just sort of go on tour when we feel like it. I also think it makes the shows a bit more special for the kids, since we have not really played either of the coasts in like three years. So kids will hopefully be like, ‘Shit, NOFX is coming around.’ But every once in awhile we have to go out on a club tour mainly so we can get REALLY drunk. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that we get more drunk and wasted on stage than any other band.
You being someone who has played on many Warped Tours (with both NOFX and Me First), what are your views on the fact that there are not only companies like Target sponsoring the event, but also Army recruiting centers in attendance at Warped?
The army will not be there this year. We made it a special point to talk to Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour owner/operator) and we stated that we had a problem with the Army recruiting people like that. He said he was not going to allow any of them on the tour this year. In actuality, Kevin Lyman is a really good guy. He keeps the door prices low by having corporate sponsorship. It really is such a great tour for everybody. No band gets any special treatment or writers or anything and he buys all the bands a case of beer. As for the sponsorship, he really does not have any truly bad people sponsor it, like it is mostly just clothing.
Despite the outcome of the 2004 election, do you have any plans to bring back punkvoter.com for the 2008 elections?
We are not going to wait until ’08; we have the midterm elections in 2006 that are going to be very important. We need to get Congress back, so we are going to have another booth on the Warped Tour and as the election comes closer we are going to try to push kids to get back out there and vote. What is great is that the youth vote is higher than ever, and often when you can get a person to vote one time, they often become lifelong voters.
Being a vegetarian, I recall listening to a few of your songs where you somewhat mocked non-meat eaters. But fairly recently, I saw an interview you conducted with peta2. What exactly are your views on Animal Rights?
We are a big supporter of both Animal Rights and PETA. I wish I could be stronger than I am. I was a Vegequarian for about seven years where I only ate fish. Just recently, on occasion I will eat some free range poultry. A lot of that stuff is for health reasons for me because this shit is just not healthy anymore. It is just so poisonous. But, I would be a full-fledged Vegan if I only had the willpower. My wife is a Vegetarian and we are raising our daughter on it as well. I wish I could be a better example, but I do think I do a fairly good job.
So Fat Wreck Chords must keep you fairly busy?
No, not really. I do not spend much time there. I have a baby girl, gambling addiction, recording studio, and two bands. When I am in town I will go to Fat Wreck for like three hours a day like three days a week.
Against Me! (former Fat Wreck band) just signed to Sire. What did you think about that?
The band said to me that they actually felt guilty. But I did not understand what they felt bad for. I got two great records out of them and all I really want is for them to be happy. One of the things that Fat Wreck does is sign bands for one record deals, and sometimes two if they are a new band. It is okay if a band wants to leave, I mean, I am still friends with Anti-Flag and Rise Against (two former Fat Wreck bands also currently on major labels).
I would definitely say that you have a great knack for picking bands.
Yeah, I would say we had a good couple of years recently. Bands now do not sell what Lagwagon and No Use For A Name used to. I mean, those bands used to sell so many records. Now we have so many great bands like The Lawrence Arms and Dillinger Four, but no one really sells records like they used to.
It used to be physically impossible to find or get an interview with you. I think the first one I ever saw was a cover story you did for Alternative Press. Why are you back doing them again after all this time?
Yeah, I do not think we did an interview for like seven years. We recently just used the media to get our political message out there. I mean, there was no real good reason why we stopped doing interviews. The interviews just started sucking and they would ask the same questions. After a while, we just started lying to make it interesting. Now it usually goes along the lines of Vanessa (Fat Wreck PR) asking whether or not I would want to do a certain interview and I will just say yes or no.
NOFX hit House Of Blues in Atlantic City on Feb. 28 and B.B. King’s in NYC on March 1 with The Lawrence Arms and The Loved Ones. Their Never Trust A Hippy EP is out March 14, and the full-length hits stores April 18 through Fat Wreck Chords. For more info, check out fatwreck.com, punkvoter.com and NOFXofficialwebsite.com