Interview: Fat Mike of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords
The life of a professional punker can get very busy. Just ask Fat Mike. As if being the lead singer and bassist for NOFX weren’t enough, Mike owns Fat Wreck Chords, the biggest independent record label in North America and plays bass in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
Life has become particularly busy for Fat Mike with the recent release of NOFX’s 12th album, Self Entitled, and a supporting tour. I was able to catch Mike during a brief period he was in San Francisco to spend time with his daughter. Even then, his schedule was still packed — he could only find time for an interview while driving to a hair appointment to dye his mohawk blue. What a life.
Over the summer, you were in Europe touring with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. How did that go?
It was a weird tour. Tony Sly had just died a few days before the tour. His funeral was the day the tour started. We weren’t at the top of our game — we were all bummed out. Joey Cape was fucked up the whole time. I never have seen him so drunk. I went the other way; I didn’t party at all. It was the most sober tour I think I’ve done in 20 years.
I found that the new NOFX album was very different from your previous albums. For a while, it seemed that every record you put out would include at least one ska song with trumpet parts. Why did you decide to take out that staple for Self Entitled?
I don’t really think about putting a ska song or a reggae song on records, because I write what I write. I was inspired by early punk; I was just trying to make a record that sounded like it was from ’81. There were 18 songs on it, so we dropped six. Had those six gone on the record, it would have sounded like a different album, but we decided to keep [only] those punk rock songs.
How are things going at Fat Wreck Chords?
Things are going very well right now.
Is there an upcoming album you guys are all stoked for?
I think the new Old Man Markley [Blood on My Hands] is awesome.
In the past, when George W. Bush was in office, you were involved with the election with Punkvoter and the Rock Against Bush comps. Have you had any involvement in this upcoming election?
No, I haven’t.
Are you positive Obama will win this?
Well, now I don’t know after that terrible debate. I’m a lot more apathetic. The US was a really good place when Clinton was finishing [his second term]. There was a huge surplus of money and there were no major problems in the world, except maybe Bosnia. Things were looking really good, but then Bush ruined this country. George Bush ruined the world! He destroyed this country, and there’s no going back. So I think Obama is a better president.
What do you think of Mitt Romney?
Horrible. I don’t think he’s as bad as George Bush. He doesn’t seem like an idiot. If he does win, he’s not going to make idiotic moves — just bad ones. George Bush started a war with a country that didn’t bomb us. There was no Iraqi on that plane. They didn’t do anything to us. But he decided to take vengeance on a country that didn’t touch us. It’s kind of like if the US bombed Somalia, and Somalia came back and attacked Canada. It’s the same thing. It’s near the US and it’s a lot easier to fight! The country is a lot easier to go to war with.
Has Jello [Biafra] ever tried to convert you to the Green side?
Sure. We don’t really argue about it. It’s a better party, but it never wins.
In recent interview with Stza from Leftover Crack, he said that the first time he met you he could tell you didn’t like crust punks. Is this true?
No, not at all. It’s just that he’s really stinky on the “stink meter” of crust punks. He came on our bus, and everyone was so bummed. He stunk up the whole bus. I think crusties are fine, but he is high on the stink meter. He’s been kicked off planes.
Are there any more [Star Fucking Hipsters] records in the works?
I don’t know. He texted me a while ago. He called me an asshole or something. And that was the last I heard from him. But I put out that Morning Glory record with Ezra from Leftover Crack — it’s a really good album. I still work with crusties, just not the real stinky ones. [Ezra] is normal on the stink meter.
You have been accused of being a sell-out, and you have accused others of selling out. Where would you draw the line between staying true to your music and selling out?
This is where the line is: if you write music that you’re not really into because you think it’s popular and you’re doing it to make more money, you’re a sell-out. No one really thinks I’m a sell-out. I’ve only heard it twice in 15 years. I told the story about it [on Self Entitled], but it’s not the norm. I just ignore it.
I know you talk about this every single interview you do, but I want to talk about bondage and S&M. Tell me about your dungeon. What do you have in it?
Something for suspension, a cage, a St. Andrew’s Cross, a wall of locks and whips, gas masks, whatever.
Have you been able to find a suitable dominatrix since your divorce?
Yeah, my girlfriend, dude. I’ve [been with her] for three years. I met her through a friend, at a party here with Alkaline Trio, Sum 41, and The Vandals. We just hit it off.
For those of us who don’t have a lot of money, what household items can we use as replacements for sex toys?
Saran Wrap. For wrapping someone up.
What can we use for a riding crop?
Flyswatter. But you have to use the other end.
What’s the story behind the song “I Got One Jealous Again, Again”?
When my ex-wife and I got together, we had two awesome punk record collections, and we had a lot of the same records. So I wrote the song “We Got Two Jealous Agains” about all the records we have doubles of. When we split up, we split up our records. And so now I have one “Jealous Again,” again.
What record would you hunt and kill for if it was ever stolen?
My Misfits “Bullet.” That’s a good one. And I paid $2.99 for it which made it even better.
Did Oki Dogs ever give you terrible shits?
Shits? Oh, fuck yeah. It was horrible, but it’s delicious. Do you know what it is? It’s a flour tortilla, wrap up two hot dogs, a lot of pastrami, and chili and cheese and onions. It’s fucking disgusting. Gives you a stomachache for sure.
NOFX will be playing a handful of shows throughout the rest of the year. Click here for the dates.