Last month, I had the pleasure of repeatedly working with some superb artists who, across the past two decades, have really impacted their respective genre, music in general, and even some non-music-related causes ranging from politics to pets. No independent band has received a greater welcome or greater success than they have and it will take a band of megalithic proportions to topple them from that achievement. This month’s featured artists, here at Blogcritics, are NOFX.
NOFX got their start, as so many bands do, in Los Angeles, California in 1983. Since that foundation the band has gone on to release 10 studio full lengths, 6 EPs, and a military-grade gigaton of 7 inches; to put that into perspective, the Beatles released 11 UK studio full lengths. The band has found unparalleled independent success, selling over 6 million records worldwide and touring all six continents (note: Antarctica is a chunk of ice – not a continent).
The band has always had some lyrically absurd songs but the majority of them are borne of a joking nature. Historically, not all people, mainly the press, have been receptive to that sentiment; for awhile the band had trouble finding daylight within any media outlet. Though once the fan buzz generated, the media was forced to take notice to the band, but by that time NOFX had decided they were done with the media. NOFX has traditionally given very few interviews, refuses to work with MTV, and has seldom relied on media attention for anything. This general uncooperativeness doesn’t stem from any bitterness but rather a hardy, “thanks” to all those who helped them back when they were still nobodies; it might also have been, whether known or not, a brilliant PR move since it made the media crave the elusive interview with NOFX. On that note, make sure to check back later this month for my interview with frontman Fat Mike.
Bad Religion, Misfits, and Rich Kids on LSD are some of the bands that have influenced NOFX over the years. In modern music, you’d be pressed to find a punk band who didn’t list NOFX as one of their influences. It didn’t take long, after making their mark on the scene, for the band to make that transition from influencees to influencers. The band’s first full length, S&M Airlines, was released on Epitaph Records in 1989. While the band found moderate success with albums throughout the early nineties, the band had their first certified gold with the album, Punk in Drublic.
Despite multiple pursuits by major record labels, the band has stayed true to their punk mentality and strayed from signing to any major labels. After helping mold fledgling Epitaph Records into the monolith it is today, the band left Epitaph for NOFX frontman Fat Mike’s label, Fat Wreck Chords.
The band has gone through a myriad of member changes throughout the years. In 1983 the band consisted of Mike Burkett (Fat Mike), Eric Melvin, and drummer Erik Sandin (a.k.a. Erik Ghint/Erik Shun). By 1985, Sandin had quit the band and Scott Sellers had taken his place. Now pay close attention: Sellers then quit the band, was replaced by Scott Aldahl for two weeks, and then Sandin rejoined the band. In 1986, Dave Allen joined the band as a vocalist but regrettably was involved in a fatal car accident later that year. The close of 1986 brought a very meticulous touring schedule for the band which prompted the addition of second guitarist, Dave Casillas. Casillas left the group in ’89 and was replaced by Steve Kidwiller. After appearing on NOFX’s first full-length, and two subsequent albums, Kidwiller left the band in 1991 and Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta joined the band to create NOFX as we know them today.
While reading through the press bio, given to me by Fat Wreck Chords, I stumbled upon this gem at the close of the letter. It is an email written by frontman Fat Mike in response to his label’s pressing for him to write a biography. I feel it is a great synopsis/supplement to what you have already read. Here it is in its entirety:
Being in NOFX is easy. There’s nothing easier than being an alcoholic in a punk rock band. We didn’t start out being alcoholics, but we’re definitely gonna finish that way. It all started in the winter of 83. We we’re all 16 and had no idea how to play musical instruments. Lucky for us we wanted to play punk, therefore you didn’t need to know how to do anything. So Melvin, Smelly, and I start writing songs and playing shows in Hollywood. After about a year we start touring the US without even a 7″ out. All we had was a demo. We played places like CBGB’s, The Mabuhay Gardens, Blondies, and the Anthrax. No one liked us, but that was OK cuz we we’re having a hell of a good time. So we start recording songs, but none of them we’re good, and we kept on touring, but no one liked us. Years go by. The year was 1989 when we wrote our first good song, “S&M Airlines”. Brett from Bad Religion heard it and signed us to Epitaph records. Then we made the S&M Airlines LP. It was weird, we made a good record and people actually started to like us. Before 89, we had never made more than 200 dollars at a show(lucky to make 100). From there on out things got better. 10 records, and about 15 world tours later, we’re still here, and happier now than ever. Now we can afford the best drugs and booze, and we get comped on tons of great golf courses all over the country. We don’t make videos, we don’t do interviews, and we only play shows in warm months, (good golf weather). We even got a gold record a few years ago. Cool. It never even charted once, but it went gold anyway. So there it is. NOFX, a hella happy punk band. Now if we could only get that asshole out of the white house, everything would be great.
Oh yeah. In 91 we got a second guitarist in the band. His name is El Hefe and he was in “ The Bad News Bears” when he was 12. He played Miguel. See ya.
NOFX will be releasing an EP titled Never Trust A Hippie, in March and a full length titled Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing coming in April. They also will be making a stint with the Van’s Warped Tour this upcoming summer.
In the coming month: I will review NOFX’s EP, their concert with the Lawrence Arms, and showcase my interview with Fat Mike. Make sure you check back for all these features, especially the interview.