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NOFX

Biography

NOFX (1983-present): a Punk band from Los Angeles, California, USA.

A

merican punk rock band NOFX formed in Los Angeles in 1983. Fat Mike (bass/vocals), Eric Melvin (guitar) and Erik Sandin (drums) are the original founding and longest-serving members of the band and have appeared on every release, although Sandin departed briefly in 1985, only to rejoin the following year. El Hefe joined the band in 1991 to play lead guitar and trumpet, rounding out the current line-up.

NOFX's mainstream success coincided with increased interest in punk during the 1990s, though, unlike many of their contemporaries they have never been signed to a major label. In 1983, Melvin met Mike Burkett (a.k.a. Fat Mike) and started the band under the name NO-FX, after a Boston hardcore punk band called Negative FX. At this time, they were joined by drummer Erik "Smelly" Sandin. NOFX's first recording was the 1984 demo Thalidomide Child, which did not sell many copies with Fat Mike once claiming that no copies existed. The demo would be re-released in 2012. The group released its self-titled debut EP NOFX on 'Mystic Records' in 1985; it was later re-released as part of the repressed releaseMaximum Rocknroll compilation CD in 1992 although the original of this compilation was first seen in 1989.

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The band's line-up underwent numerous changes prior to 1991. For a year, Erik "Smelly" Sandin left the band and was replaced by Scott Sellers, and later by Scott Aldahl. Dave Allen was in the band for about four months, until his death in a car accident. In 1986, the band released the So What If We're on Mystic! EP. Dave Casillas joined the band on second guitar in 1987 and was featured on the The P.M.R.C. Can Suck on This EP (1987), attacking the PMRC's campaign for music censorship. The original cover was an edited S&M photo; the cover for the re-released version was changed to a photo of Melvin. Prior to the release of Liberal Animation (1988), their debut full album and featuring Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, a compilation of 14 early NOFX songs was released on 'Mystic Records'. The album was self-titled, and featured the songs from the NOFX and So What If We're on Mystic! EPs, and only around 1,000 copies were pressed. The album's cover was a redesigned version of the cover from the NOFX EP release.

That debut full-length, Liberal Animation, despite the title and some lyrics mocking vegetarianism and animal rights, Fat Mike declared he became a vegetarian after writing the album. The album was re-released in 1991 on Gurewitz's label 'Epitaph Records'. Casillas left the band shortly after the recording and was replaced by Steve Kidwiler. The second studio album, S&M Airlines followed in 1989.

1991 saw the third studio album, Ribbed arrive. Shortly after the album was released, Kidwiler left, with Aaron Abeyta (a.k.a. "El Hefe") joining. The The Longest Line EP followed in 1992, with studio album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean released later that same year. Also in 1992, their former label 'Mystic Records' released Maximum Rocknroll, compiling early singles and demo songs and is a reissue of their 1989 long-out-of-print compilation tape E Is for Everything. Despite being referred to as an "official" release, Fat Mike has been quoted as saying that he did not know that the album existed until he saw a copy of it "in a store."

In the wake of the 1990s punk revival revolution (dominated by the likes of Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion and Rancid), NOFX released their fifth studio album, Punk in Drublic (1994), which proved to be one of the band's most successful albums, peaking at 12 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, and obtaining gold status six years after its release. Although one of the album's singles, Leave It Alone, got airplay on rock radio stations, the accompanying music video never received airplay on MTV, with Fat Mike quoted saying, "We made the 'Leave It Alone' video, and we decided not to send it to MTV. We just didn't want to be a part of that machine, of that 'punk wave.'" Due to the success of Punk in Drublic, NOFX received offers to sign with major record labels, but the band declined. In 1995, they released their first live album, I Heard They Suck Live!!. In the liner notes the band explicitly rejected the advances of major record labels and radio airplay, stating "We've been doing fine all these years without you so leave us alone!" The album is now considered a classic punk album by fans and critics alike.

Heavy Petting Zoo's (1996) companion featured different cover art and the name Eating Lamb. The artwork for the CD featured a man holding a sheep, while the LP depicted the same man in a 69 position lying with the sheep. The Eating Lamb version was banned from sale in Germany due to its obscene cover art. The LP version did not achieve the success of its predecessor, although it was the first NOFX record to achieve a position on the Billboard charts, reaching 63.

In 1997, the band released So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes, a return to a faster style of punk rock, as exemplified by the frenetic opening track, It's My Job to Keep Punk Rock Elite.

The Decline, an 18-minute single-track EP, followed in 1999 serving as a fiery and cynical social commentary. Clocking in at 18:23, it is the second-longest punk song ever recorded (behind Crass' 20-minute song Taking Sides).

Pump Up the Valuum (2000) would be the band's final album released through 'Epitaph' when the band switched to Fat Mike's own label, 'Fat Wreck Chords'.

In 2002, the band recorded BYO Split Series Volume III, a split album with Rancid, in which the pair switched identities by Rancid covering NOFX songs and NOFX covering Rancid tracks.

The War on Errorism (2003), an album of political songs came next. It became the start of the band's anti-George W. Bush campaign. Fat Mike organized the website punkvoter.com, compiled two chart-topping Rock Against Bush albums, and started a Rock Against Bush U.S. tour. The track Separation of Church and Skate from the album was featured in the game Tony Hawk's Underground. In 2004, a previously unreleased demo version of their song Concerns of a GOP Neo-Phyte was contributed to the compilation album Take Action! Vol. 4.

In February 2005, the band launched the NOFX 7" of the Month Club, a subscription-based service, which saw the release of one new EP almost monthly, from February 2005 to March 2006 (a total of 12 releases). The cover art for these EPs was chosen from fan-submitted entries. The first 3,000 subscribers to the club received all of their records on colored vinyl. 'Fat Wreck Chords' later released full sets of the EPs.

The Never Trust a Hippy (2006) EP was followed on April 18 of that year by the studio album Wolves in Wolves' Clothing. On September 12, 2006, the video game EA Sports NHL 07 was released, featuring Wolves in Wolves' Clothing on its soundtrack, produced by Bill Stevenson and Fat Mike. NOFX's song Kill All the White Man was also played briefly in the action movie Crank that same year, and was credited as such in the film's soundtrack.

In January 2007, the band recorded three nights of performances in San Francisco, California, for their second live album, They've Actually Gotten Worse Live! (2007). The live album is described on the press release as "their sloppiest, drunkest, funniest, best sounding recording ever ... and they even made sure not to play any songs off their 1995 live album I Heard They Suck Live."

In February 2009, the band reunited with former members Steve Kidwiler and Dave Casillas for its 25th-anniversary special performances. They were also added to the lineup for that year's Warped Tour.

The EP Cokie the Clown was released on one CD or two seven-inch vinyl records, which are called Cokie the Clown and My Orphan Year. The EP consists of outtakes from the Coaster sessions. During this time period, Fat Mike would occasionally adopt the "Cokie the Clown" persona (as seen on the EP's cover and the music video) during live performances. He also performed a solo acoustic performance on March 20, 2010, at the SXSW Festival as Cokie, which was described as "strange, emotional, and intimate." At the end of the concert, after debuting a new song called Drinking Pee, a video that was played for the audience suggested that a number of festival participants unknowingly drank Fat Mike's urine. This stunt resulted in Fat Mike getting banned from the Austin, Texas, venue, Emo's. In May 2010, NOFX posted a video online that showed Fat Mike indeed urinating into a bottle of PatrĂ³n as was previously announced, but then switching the bottle before going on stage to a bottle not containing any urine. Months later in an interview, he stated that he had "always wanted to be banned from somewhere."

The compilation The Longest EP followed in 2010. Later that same year, NOFX / The Spits, a split EP with the Seattle, Washington, band The Spits, containing two new songs from each band also emerged.

In December 2011, Fat Mike revealed to Phoenix New Times that he has begun work on a new NOFX album and a soundtrack to a "fetish film" called Rubber Bordello.

Along with a self-titled 10" of 1980s hardcore punk cover songs, the band also planned to re-release their first recordings in the summer of 2011. The 10" features covers from the Necros and D.O.A. and songs such as Police Brutality and Race Riot. The album was released on a vinyl record and has been distributed to independent record companies around the U.S., Great Britain, and elsewhere.

The next studio album, Self Entitled (2012) followed, along with X'mas Has Been X'd on January 15, 2013, and their 30th anniversary LP box set on February 19, 2013. Their thirteenth studio album, First Ditch Effort, arrived in late 2016, along with releasing their autobiography, NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories.

In March 2018, NOFX released a new single There's No 'Too Soon' if Time Is Relative, in tribute to physicist Stephen Hawking, who had died days earlier.

In February 2019, Fat Mike announced the NOFX 7" of the Month Club, a new subscription-based service scheduled for the release of 12 new EPs almost monthly. As with the previous 2005 installment, the cover art for these extended plays was chosen from fan-submitted entries.

On August 16, 2019, the band released the single, Fish in a Gun Barrel in response to mass shootings in America, with proceeds from the single going to anti-gun-violence charity Moms Demand Action.

Single Album (2021) and Double Album (2022) would follow, along with the announcement of three more albums in the works despite Fat Mike announcing the imminent split of the act. In 2023 the band would celebrate their 40th anniversary.

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NOFX performing in Uniondale, NY as part of Warped Tour 2006.
Photo by: Gino Maccanti
(CC BY 2.0)

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