NOFX has been a part of my life for many decades and I have air guitared and sang along countless times to their excellent punk as fuck music – I still do. I’m just a 52 year old dude who listens to them – not part of the ‘scene’ or anything punk rock beyond a familiarity with the genre.
They have a ton of fans and while punk bands that started in the 80’s are declining (assuming they didn’t pack it in for a ‘real job’ after their first tape failed to allow them to tour with Black Flag) it seems like NOFX could be the punk rock version of the Rolling Stones if they wanted to be – and why not, I’m not suddenly going to ‘grow up’ and not like them any more.
If you’re reading this then you probably already know me and/or are already a fan so this isn’t a ‘what songs to listen to by them’ page – it’s more about my journey as a soul who chose not to sell out but to ‘become the media’ like Jello Biafra suggested we do instead of being slaves to it. Fat Mike made a record company rather being owned by one and is now giving artists like me a chance to get their work in the rooms of cool people across the world.
NOFX reflects a part of my personality I hold very precious. Fat Mike air guitaring in 2019 tells me that I did not make bad choices when I vowed not to sell out way back in the mid -late 1980’s. The not selling out part is the most important part to me and while I listen to NOFX often, I don’t keep up with their biography – last I heard was they were doing something with my favorite new generation punk band Mean Jeans which means they are still cool!
I first heard NOFX on the Mystic sampler 7″ I bought from an ad in Maximum R&R in the mid 80’s – and I thought their tune sucked – I did play the hell out of Donut Shop Rock by Doggy Style on my radio show though!
I got reacquainted with NOFX in the early 90’s and it was years before I even understood it was the same band as the one on the sampler – what a difference in quality! This is the key to the NOFX ‘brand’ or rather one of their understood fun themes – that is that they ‘suck’ (they never did – we just needed to develop our punk rock palates – if you are the same generation as Fat Mike, Henry Rollins and me, and you didn’t ‘sell out’, then you are a fucking James Bond level of punk rock palate by now – and even a song like Bang Gang can be appreciated like the rare vintage it is – I detect a scandalous hint of Feederz with a whiff of The Damned (haha that’s way off – whatever – you get what I’m saying)!
So what’s this fascination with selling out anyway? Who cares? Well, it matters to Fat Mike and to me. Selling out stops the creative process and provides short term material gain at the expense of getting to that IT moment with your work. There would be no Impressionist masters without this concept of not selling out. Am I the only person who sees Pierre-Auguste Renoir as the Paul McCartney to Claude Monet’s John Lennon? History is basically the stories of people, good and evil, who didn’t sell out and now with the internet being so omnipresent and easy to use you can rediscover in glorious detail these people. Would Wayne Kramer be such a fucking legend if he had sold out and not formed the MC5?
Anyway, I have a story about not selling out. 1988-9 – I had broken up with Lynn, my punk as fuck girlfriend (We both had mohawks at one point which was unusual if not unique for Mississippi at that time – so we not only had normal relationship woes we also had a schism in our tiny little punk scene. Weirdly, audio from that time, perhaps only weeks before we broke up actually exists.
I don’t beat a dead horse with relationships, I’d rather be alone than drag anyone’s misery out but friendships have always been important to me and so, while I knew our punk rock power couple days were done – we were still friends. She invited me to her new apartment one day, not to rekindle anything as far as I know but because our circle of friends was small and she had scored some acid. I took it (we were peace punks rather than straight edge) and sat on her patio with a pen and sketchbook as it was a beautiful day. I wrote a letter to my future self while tripping (it eventually got lost or maybe I burned it as some kind of sacrificial ritual) and it was all about NOT SELLING OUT.
See, I was a broke as fuck college student and while I was fucking loved and revered as a punk rock dude amongst my friends I knew that perfect little bubble wouldn’t last – I’d eventually be forced to decide if my choice of being an artist, building that sweet cosmic resume of coolness would amount to anything or not. Luckily it did, hell this blog wouldn’t have happened if I had sold out and while I’m hardly famous I AM a great artist!
But back then I could barely paint the human figure at all and I knew I had years of practice ahead of me to get my tool kit right – sure it might be acceptable to some to just splatter paint and call it art but that’s the first sell out you have to overcome if you want to be a great artist. Selling out would have hardly allowed a masterpiece like The Decline cd to exist, selling out would have resulted in radio friendly Green Day songs and eventual billy idolness- sure Fat Mike won’t be more GG than GG but who even wants that? It’s not a race to see who is most punk as fuck it’s living your life being creative without pressure of conformity.
So, I had to write it down, get it into my subconscious – consciously make a stand against selling out – I knew what great art was and it wasn’t achieved by taking the easy road. Not only would it take practice it required taking chances, living passionately – writing that autobiographical script that Jim Morrison challenged us to do.
The really weird thing is that years later, after eating the first pot cookie I ever had and basically being way more high than I ever expected – I saw myself through the other end of a tunnel/worm hole through time and space. I clearly, visually, saw me back then writing that letter sitting at the patio table, heart broken and defiant against having my legacy be one of a wasted youth that I’d rather forget than one I was proud of. It was a booster shot against selling out and while I’ve worked a variety of jobs to pay my bills and am basically a responsible member of society today – I never sold out by giving up my dreams of being a great artist – as crazy as all of that might sound to anyone but people like Fat Mike.
So yesterday I was working on a vision board slash manifestation chart with Hollye where we write down our goals and things, like the not selling out letter to consciously think about the path – and I wrote Heavy Fucking Metal, Rush and NOFX on it (along with our domestic and personal things like heath and a new house etc) and then I saw Fat Mikes video about the new 7″ of the month thing (it randomly or rather synchronously popped up on YouTube) after we took a break from our magical manifestation ceremony!
I was inspired because Fat Mike = not sold out etc to me (I seem to remember that NOFX refused interviews, MTV crap and Rolling Stone interviews etc) , maybe there are better examples of coolness – but I’m an artist, and saving the world isn’t as important as rocking through the decades espousing truths while having a good time.
It wasn’t until the next day that I saw the email from Fat Wreck Chords stating that there was a call for art submissions for these 7″ covers – and suddenly, almost immediately, the universe had manifested something! I can do some cool art for a band I love! It would be cool to have my art on a punk 7″ but just having the opportunity, that I hadn’t even considered, has opened another cosmic energy stream for me and that fucking rocks – I need a 30 second guitar solo here!!!