Fat Mike – NOFX ‘Bodacious Good Things & Beyond Banter’
With nearly 40 years and 14 albums under their belt, you’ve probably already heard of NOFX. They’re one of the biggest punk bands of all time and one of the most successful independent acts in history. Their 1994 album, Punk in Drublic has well over a million records sold and when they come to Australia in December for Good Times Festival they’re going to be playing it in full – or at least that’s what it says on the flier.
NOFX frontman and general purveyor of punk rock ‘Fat’ Mike Burkett was gracious enough to sit down and chat with WoS about the upcoming tour, Punk in Drublic and a little insight into what the future holds for the band… Also, genocide and vibrators – because this is a Fat Mike interview after all.
(Fat Mike) Dave from Wollongong
From Perth actually.
Oh, how many interviews we’re gonna do for Perth are we even playing Perth?
Haha, I don’t think so. But I’m from Wall of Sound and we cover the whole of Australia
I’m done with my manicure (Mike shows off his wonderful painted nails).
Oh, you’re looking great.
Well, alright, so what can I answer? How can I be informative?
First of all, man, I just want to say thanks so much for doing this. NOFX is actually my favourite band of all time. And I’m just really excited to be chatting with you, and really excited that you’re coming back to Australia. So yeah, thanks so much, man. How are you doing?
I’m doing swell. You know, back off the wagon. And my band sounds real good. I think we might practice before Australia… I’m kidding, we’re not going to practice. Usually the first few shows are a disaster but we get pretty good by the third show.
All right, good, because I might go to that one. That sounds like a good plan.
And maybe a surprise show in Perth. We might just get on that five hour flight in coach to play one show in Perth and [have] things thrown at us.
I was thinking about that. Like, you know, NOFX shows tend to be pretty wild. I’ve had my nose broken twice (at NOFX shows). Which happens. But yeah, the crowds spit on you, they throw things at you… are Australian shows kinda wild?
I’ll let you know. Australians hate Jews. (Laughs) That’s why… Did I say that out loud. I’m sorry.
Yeah, haha, that’s fine…
An anti-semitic Island is what it is.
Yeah, that sounds accurate.
Who did the only successful genocide ever? Who did it? It’s the Tasmanians.
Tasmanians, yeah, that’s true. That’s very true.
Oh, and my people, you know, we’re prone to genocide.
Yeah, no, that’s also true…
Do we have to put all this in the article? Because I’m just going nowhere here. I’m digging a grave.
All right. Well, we’ll circle back to genocide later. Good Things Festival…
If you’re talking to Australians, you know, you got to bring up the obvious.
Yeah, well, exactly. It’s kind of our national pastime here. But also, we have some really great bands and a lot of them are playing Good Things – it’s really cool. Like Cosmic Psychos are an unreal Aussie punk band, there’s Regurgitator and TISM.
I’ve never heard of one of the bands on this festival for fucks sake. So you’re telling me some of them are good.
Oh, fuck, so have you not heard TISM before?
Well, there’s a band called punk band called Jism.
No TISM, with a T
Yeah no, I’ve never heard of these bands.
They’ve probably got more controversy than NOFX. They basically cause nonstop shit everywhere and haven’t played in about 20 years. Definitely check them out it’s gonna be really cool
Are they? Are they nice guys?
You know what, I have no idea. I haven’t met them. But all I know is they cause constant shit so I reckon they’d be really fun to chat to (note: they actually make great music too but I forgot to mention it)
Well, you know, we don’t on purpose cause shit. Just, you know, when you’re a comedian, you can say funny shit on stage. When you’re in a band, you say funny shit. People get mad at you.
Yeah, but I mean, when people get mad at you… they’re just being silly
People who get mad. They’re fun haters, and we’re not fun haters.
No, and people who get mad at a NOFX gig probably didn’t know what they were signing up for in the first place.
Stone Brew didn’t know what they were doing either. You’re gonna fuckin’ sponsor my band. You know? We’re eventually going to say something that’s going to make your beer company look like shit.
No, it was their beer that made them look like shit.
Yeah (feed cuts out for a moment)
Ask me when we’re coming back to Perth
When are you coming back to Perth?
How would I fucking know? I don’t plan that far ahead
Haha, so, the festival. You’re gonna play Punk in Drublic in full?
That’s what that’s what it says on the fucking advertisements – I didn’t sign up for that. I think I’m gonna play no song off that just to really piss people off “wait for it we’re gonna do it we’re not there yet. Hold on a few more songs off So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes, War on Errorism, Oh should we start… oh our set’s over I’m sorry everybody we didn’t get to play any song Punk in Drublic, oops!”
Well people love surprises and that would surprise people
Yes and anyway are our new songs are better. I think people want to hear songs from Thanks for the Shoes way more than Punk in Drublic
Oh dude, I mean that’s that’s my favourite album. It’s amazing.
Yeah, it’s our best album so what’s this fucking Punk in Drublic shit? “Play Punk in Drublic, play Punk in Drublic” fuck off.
Why? Why do you think that people love it so much?
Because it’s sold the most and ‘Linoleum’ is popular. But the thing is we retired Linoleum already – if you heard our new album, you know, we’re not even allowed to play that song… morally.
Well, yeah, that’s what I thought
How can we play Punk in Drublic in its entirety? How was that possible? Yeah and no one wants to hear fucking ‘Happy Guy’ anyway. We’re gonna talk for an hour on stage. Yeah, I’m telling everyone what the songs on Punk in Drublic are about. It’s good shit. It’s interesting.
Just tell bad jokes for an hour. Piss off everyone, it’s gonna be fun.
That’s what we do. In a normal NOFX set of an hour and 20 minutes. We only play 45 minutes of music, it’s true, we time it out all the time. We talk almost as much we play music.
I think that’s part of the fun.
Yeah, I want to I want to have a good time, like Frenzal Rhomb, we make people laugh.
Oh, yeah, that’s it. You go to a Frenzal Rhomb show to watch them hurt themselves and break their arms on stage. And you got to NOFX to see them talk shit.
They have very thin bones. Jason (Whalley) has very thin fragile bones. He’s like, Mr. Glass from ‘Unbreakable’.
But that sounds accurate. I think that’s true. So, speaking of like the new album, I was curious. You went back to Bill Stevenson this time round. Previously, you went with Cameron…
Cameron Webb, Yeah.
What? Like, was there a reason you went with Cameron on First Ditch Effort?
Bill and Jason live in Colorado. Cameron lives close. And you know, Bill and Jason like to work 12 hour days. Just go go go go, go go. I don’t like to work like that. I like six hours.
I’ve heard Bill is a bit of a bit of a slave driver, he gets good results but I’ve heard he goes pretty hard.
Yeah, but he’s one of my favourite people in the world for sure.
Oh, man. Yeah man, it’s fucking Bill Stevenson too. He’s legendary. He’s awesome.
So yeah, that’s a good question. But what happened with our last album was we just kept recording more and more songs. And Bill’s like “how many songs we fucking recording?” “I don’t know, like a lot of them.” And we didn’t finish you know, the double album, but I’ll be finished in two weeks on Single Album – Disc Two.
Oh, awesome. So that’s coming. That’s exciting.
And Disc Two. It’s the funniest NOFX album – for sure. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s completely different than the first album.
It was all written and recorded at the same time. But I just I couldn’t finish and I wanted to put up something out because it had been four years
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, you went you know, I don’t want to say ‘experimental’ with the last album, you pushed a little away from what ‘punk rock’ was and really sort of stepped away from like the straight four chord stuff. Is there more of out on this one or is it more straight punk?
This one is more faster and straight ahead. It’s our new album, which is almost done, which comes out in 2023. That one is… The chord progressions are different than I’ve ever heard. A lot of the songs have no repeat chord progressions.
Wow, cool. Awesome.
But you don’t really notice. Because the melody stays the same. So the chorus will have the same melody. But the chords are different.
All right. Man, I’m excited. So you’ve got Disc Two coming out and then another album?
And then two more
And then two more?
Well, I wrote the 70 songs over COVID.
Fair enough. Do you have time to sleep between all this and your other projects and you know, business and everything else?
I do sleep every night. My band Codefendants, I’m busy with that now and I have a lot of projects … My musical – the movies being made in February, but I do sleep. Because my lady, she ties me to the bed and makes me.
That’ll do it
I have a trunk at the end of my bed. It’s a big trunk. It has leather, it’s lined with leather. And it’s like my thinking trunk – I call it thinking inside the box. And she puts me in it tied up, locks me in and leaves me there. And that’s when I really come up with cool ideas. Thinking inside the box. True story.
You know, I’ll try that.
Don’t try, you’ll get claustrophobic and you’ll cry and be terrible. Or don’t try it without a vibrator. You need the vibrator to make it work. Also, you have a gas mask on and a tube and then nitrous gets put in there. That makes it better too.
Ahh good. So, look back on your Hardcore EP, which is great. I love it. It’s like one of my favourite releases on ‘Race Riot’ your bass tone is great, do you recall exactly you’re doing on that to get that really meaty, raw sound.
I used a pick. I never use new bass strings. I like my bass strings a month old. That’s how everyone recorded in the 80s. No one had new strings or new drum heads.
Oh, yeah, I haven’t changed my bass strings in about six years. Yeah.
I change mine every day, especially when I’m recording.
Nah I’m kidding. But you do it because you’re cheap. I do it because I want that sound.
Yeah, fair enough. So yeah, there was nothing particularly special about the app or anything. I just tried to emulate that sound. I could not find it.
I tried to get the sick of it all sound I can’t find that.
I can’t it’s difficult.
Have you seen my pics? (Mike is talking about his Dunlop signature picks)
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been trying to buy them. They’re not available in Australia yet, but I might just order them online and wait for them to come here in like, three months
Neither is Tito’s vodka you know, you guys don’t have a lot of things. You know what else is not available in Australia? Cocaine.
You’re talking to the wrong people.
Okay, it’s available. It’s just $300 a gram. It’s ridiculous. And those are those are pre-COVID prices.
And it’s not even that good
Well, you don’t know the right people.
Do you have this in Australia. (Mike shows me a can of Liquid Death)
What is that? Is that coffee?
No, it’s water
Well, yeah, look, liquid death. Water. Mountain water.
Ah yeah, I guess water is deadly.
You need water in Australia. You gotta do something. You’re not getting the rainfall.
All right. I’m out of time. This has been really fun. Dude, I’m so excited.
It’s been good. As I keep doing interviews, I lose my mind more and more, and I have one more, but I appreciate the interview. It’s nice to meet you.
Thanks so much.
Was I disappointing? Did I disappoint you?
No! Never. I wanted to talk shit with, you know, with my bass player and now I have. It’s great.
Play lightly. That’s the secret to bass playing.
So I guess I’ll buy those picks and then I’ll sound awesome.
Yeah, point six zero. If you play with a stiff pick, you’re gonna be sharp your entire fucking life.
That’s true. Here’s a tip. Here’s the tip when you’re tuning. When you’re tuning, go bang, bang, bang, bang, bang (Mike imitates playing big downstrokes) you don’t hit the string and let it fade out. Because that’s not how you play bass. You play bass like this. So you tune while you’re hitting the strings. So if you don’t, you’re always going to be sharp.
I’ve never done that. I didn’t know that. I’m gonna change it up. Thank you
Interview by – Dave Mullins
NOFX play Good Things Festival in December!
Good Things Festival 2022
Friday 2 December – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Saturday 3 December – Centennial Park, Sydney
Sunday 4 December – Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane
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