Punk Off Their Asses Page 3
Punk In Drublic is the band's best work to date, eventually selling 1.1 million copies worldwide. That same year, Green Day and the Offspring explode into the mainstream. "It bugged us that the Offspring got big for about three or four months," Mike remembers. "Not Green Day. But we had just taken the Offspring on tour, and they were so mediocre that we just thought it was weird." While both Green Day and the Offspring receive massive support from radio and MTV, NOFX simply opts out. "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.' I think it's one of the best decisions we've ever made. Dexter Holland from the Offspring once told me he envied our career, because they never got any respect in the music business," explains Mike. The band's decision to not support MTV is not without its difficulties. "They said they were going to play the No Use For A Name video [for ‘Soulmate'], but if we weren't going to give them a NOFX video, then forget it. That was when I really got turned off. I don't know how happy No Use were, but I put my band before my label." Soon after, NOFX stop doing interviews. "We ended up in some teeny bopper magazine because some guy just made up the interview," Mike says. "We were doing so many interviews every day that we'd just start making up stories. All people wanted to talk about was Green Day. I didn't really think it was helping our career, and we didn't really have much to say."
While I Heard They Suck Live! becomes the band's first release to appear on the Billboard charts, Fat Mike joins forces with Joey Cape and Dave Raun of Lagwagon, Spike Slawson of Swingin' Utters, and Chris Shiflett of No Use (and currently Foo Fighters) to form Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, a covers-only punk band. "We were frustrated because we were all playing in bands whose members all lived in different cities. We thought, ‘Let's just record a couple of seven-inches and play locally whenever we want to,'" explains Mike. "The funny thing is, everyone from the Gimme Gimmes moved away, so now we can't play locally." The band have released five full-length records on Fat and played the Warped tour, Europe, Japan, and a Bar Mitzvah.
As a promotional item for their latest record, Heavy Petting Zoo, whose cover features a man molesting a sheep, the band distributes blow-up "Love Ewes"; posters for the album get a record store in France shut down. The album receives lukewarm reception from fans and critics who aren't overtly impressed with its slower pace. Eric buys a coffee shop in L.A., dubs it Café Mocha, and has similar difficulties with slowness of pace — it shuts down two years later. While on tour in Bakersfield, Erik is attacked from behind mid-song by an angry skinhead who knocks over his whole kit. "We all jumped into the pit and tried to fight him," Mike says. "He got kicked out. I guess he came back after the show to apologise, and Erik just came up to him with a monkey wrench… It was pretty upsetting. The sound it made really made me sick to my stomach."
In a rare interview with Flipside, Mike discusses his recent adoption of a vegetarian lifestyle; understandably, it's a surprise for a man who once wrote songs like "Vegetarian Mumbo Jumbo." "I love being proven wrong. I find it refreshing and humbling. I used to make fun of vegetarians, and I was just trying to be a punky, snot-nosed kid." On the other hand, one of the band's songs is used, without permission, as the theme to a porn flick titled Monkey Gang Bang. Near the end of the year, So Long And Thanks For All the Shoes is released; it's Mike's favourite NOFX record.
Following in Eric's unsuccessful footsteps, El Hefe opens up his own club, Hefe's, which barely lasts two years. "He got one of those ATM machines put in, and he had to get a five year lease," Mike says. "So after the club shut down, he was stuck with a bank machine he had to keep renting every month. I don't know what he did with it." During the summer's Warped Tour stop in Houston, Texas, the band is appalled by the poor sound at the all-concrete venue and apologises to their fans by throwing $5,000 in dollar bills into the pit during their set. "It was really hot, and they booked the Warped Tour inside this shed where cattle were being sold. Bad Religion were playing, and I couldn't tell what song they were playing. That's how bad it sounded," recalls Mike. "I felt like we cheated the kids. We weren't going to play, and I thought, ‘Fuck, we should give them our share of the money back and just have fun with it.'" Tour difficulties continue when a planned date in Moscow is cancelled due to troubles with the band's work papers. "They wouldn't let us out of the airport," Mike says. "Luckily, we only flew from Amsterdam, but it still cost us about $16,000."
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