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Interview: Fat Mike of NOFX

words by Jackson Ellis | photo courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords
02.04.2003

Fat MikeOriginally published in Excommunication issue #2

Fat Mike: the guy behind Fat Wreck Chords and NOFX…a strong presence at the Vans Warped Tour…columnist for the new AMP Magazine…and now, in the last few months, the founder of a new website, Punkvoter.com. Inspired by the words of filmmaker Michael Moore (Bowling For Columbine, Roger & Me) to, as Mr. Mike states, “Stop whining and start doing,” Punkvoter.com is the fruit of his recent labors — an attempt to make a difference to kids who otherwise might not have the proper motivation or resources to become educated in the political world.

While on a recent trip, Fat Mike took the time to do an email interview with Jackson Ellis. Yes, correspondence between two punk rock legends of their time. *cough* But this is Fat Mike’s turn to speak, so read on.

Hey Fat Mike. I just want to start off by asking a bit about your newest site, punkvoter.com. When did you launch the site, and what was your primary motivation to do so?
We launched it last summer, but it’s still in its infancy stages. I wanted to get it launched before the election last November, but we really didn’t have it together enough to have any impact. The main goal of the site is to get a group of young concerned citizens to vote as an organized unit. Get kids care about what’s going on in this country, and to realize that if we act together, we can make a big difference.

What has the overall reaction been from those who’ve corresponded with you regarding the site?
Everybody has been really positive, except for the few people who don’t think I’m qualified enough to have a political site. Fuck them. I may not be a political science major, but I have the opportunity to influence a lot of people, and that may be a lot more important.

Have you had many contributors to the site besides yourself? If so, who?
So far the only contributors have been Pat from Anti-Flag, Russ from Good Riddance, and Jim from Pennywise, but we will be getting many more. It just takes a bit of time to get everyone involved.

Any favorite political authors/books and websites that you are a fan of and would recommend to others?
Well, Michael Moore is pretty much the main reason why I started the site. I saw him speak, and he convinced me to stop whining and start doing. So of course I think people should check out his books and website, as well Moveon.org. People should just check out the punkvoter.com site and look at the links. That’s a good start.

In your opinion, how much of the present American turmoil related to GW, and how much was inherited?
In all fairness, I think most of it was inherited, but GW seems to be making every situation worse.

I recall in an early issue of AMP magazine (issue one, I think) you mentioned that one step to improving the government is to minimize Republican control by voting Democrat. Do you think ignoring the third parties is a wise choice, and do you think there is enough true distinction between Republicans and Democrats, other than superficial talk? For instance, Gore may have been the “liberal” of the two-party system during the 2000 election, but this is a man whose track record includes opposition to abortion and gun control, heavy support of the Gulf War, an iffy environmental record…the list goes on (and let’s not get into his wife).
I think both parties suck, but by voting for a third party you are ensuring Republicans stay in office. In fact, the Republican party spent more money on ads for Nader in certain states than Nader did. They want the Democrats to split their vote. We need one strong more liberal Dem party, not two weak ones.

A lot of punk bands sing about how rotten the government is, but really, preaching to the choir doesn’t do much — it just gives a lot of kids a reason to be pissed off with no sense of what to do. What do you think are the best ways young adults can become involved with political activism?
Probably the most important thing you can do is to get informed. The more knowledge you have the more ammo you have to fight. Learn both sides of every issue, not just the left side. Once you have the information, share the information.

Off the subject of politics, what is in store for NOFX this year? Another album, another stint on the Warped Tour?
We got a new record called, The War on Errorism, coming out in May, and then we go to the bar.

Thanks for your time, Fat Mike. Anything else you’d like to add?
If this interview sounds kinda lame, it’s because I did it at three in the morning after more than a few drinks. Oh well.

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