13 Things We Learned from the New NOFX Autobiography
Published Apr 18, 2016California punks NOFX are notorious dirt bags. So while their new autobiography, NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories, co-written with Jeff Alulis, tells the band's rise from shitty L.A. upstarts to the kings of pop-punk, it should come as no surprise that it's also teeming with the kinds of sordid tales of drunken hooliganism and abject squalor that would put Mötley Crüe to shame.
We dug through the grit and grime to unearth the weirdest, funniest and most awful stories we could find. Below, find the most notable 13.
13 Things We Learned from the New NOFX Autobiography:
1. The L.A. punk scene in the '80s was populated by a number of violent and misogynist punk gangs whose members were perpetually drunk and/or stoned.
Brutal fights and even rape were not uncommon. "Basically every five to ten minutes at any given punk show people were beating each other to a bloody pulp," writes Fat Mike. "A lot of people joining the scene weren't just doing it for the music and fashion; they also wanted to kick the shit out of people without suffering any consequences."
2. By their own admission, NOFX spent the first five years of their career "sounding, performing and behaving like shit."
Lead singer and bass player Fat Mike considers 1989's S&M Airlines to be their first real album. "Despite its flaws, it was a move to a melodic style of songwriting. It was a cross between D.I., RKL and Bad Religion. It wasn't as good as any of them, but it was a step in the right direction."
3. Fat Mike's grandfather, James S. Burkett produced a number of Charlie Chan movies in the 1940s.
"[My father] grew up surrounded by the competitive atmosphere of Hollywood," he writes. "[My grandfather] left a legacy to live up to."
4. Fat Mike received his nickname while NOFX were on tour with the band Subculture.
"The first time we met Subculture on the road, I was a scrawny kid, but the next time we saw them I had gained some weight," he writes. "I don't know if I'd call myself 'fat' at 160 pounds, but one of the guys from Subculture started calling me 'Fat Mike,' and to this day everyone's confused by it."
5. Fat Mike once inadvertently stole a suitcase from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' van.
"When we got home we opened the case to find a hat with a whale sticking out of it, an American flag kilt, some leather wader pants… these were the outfits the Chili Peppers had worn in all their promo photos and on stage for their whole Freaky Styley tour."
6. Following their first European tour, NOFX were scheduled to hand off their tour van to Fugazi, but they wrecked it first.
Despite Ian MacKaye's well-known aversion to drugs and alcohol, in "a blizzard of immaturity, intoxication, exhaustion, and frustration," the members of NOFX poured out a six-pack of beer all over the van's interior. "It wasn't saying 'fuck you' to Fugazi," recalls Fat Mike. "It was just us saying 'fuck you' to the tour and everything that had been fucking us up."
7. NOFX's drummer Erik "Smelly" Sandin dated L7's Jennifer Finch and was briefly roommates with Courtney Love.
"She was insane, but she was fun. She wanted me to be the drummer for her brand-new band Hole."
8. A 1992 issue of Rolling Stone about heroin addiction featured a photo of Smelly, a heroin addict for many years, shooting up, for which he was paid $350.
"I explained clearly and repeatedly, don't show my face. I don't know who was responsible, but guess whose fucking face was shown plain as day with a needle in his arm in the September 17, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone? And guess whose mom happened to purchase that very same issue during a routine trip to the grocery store?" Sandin went to rehab following the recording of White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean. He's been clean ever since.
9. The Bob in the band's song "Bob," from White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, was a real person named Bob Lush.
"People often use the word 'pimp' as a figure of speech, but when I describe Bob Lush as a pimp, I mean it literally," writes Mike. "He dated a hooker who would turn tricks so they could afford drugs." His liver exploded after she threw him over a weight bench. He later died of an overdose. "The rest of the lyrics to that song are fictional."
10. Guitarist El Hefe worked as an extra in Hollywood and can be seen in the background of an episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210 and the Sylvester Stallone/Estelle Getty buddy-cop film Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
"Of course, being a Mexican I was always cast as a criminal. Every time I'd show up on set they would hand me a bandana."
11. In 1996, Fat Mike and guitarist Eric Melvin met with Hollywood Records to discuss the possibility of NOFX signing with the label.
"Everyone was signing. Everyone was hanging gold records on their walls. I saw Rancid on Saturday Night Live," writes Mike. "NOFX on SNL? It would have been a fabulous disaster."
12. According to Melvin, Blink-182 are the only mainstream punk band that ripped off NOFX.
"We were always the joking band," he writes. "We cornered the market on low brow humour." Although he considers the members of Blink "bros," NOFX later turned down a million-dollar offer to open for them.
13. NOFX's financial success has been well-documented, but their ventures haven't always turned out well.
Several members sunk some of their money into money losing ventures: Hefe opened Hefe's Nightclub in Eureka, CA which lost $150,000 in its two years of existence, while Melvin bought a coffee shop on Melrose Avenue and lost $180,000 in three years. Bucking the trend was Smelly, who formed a motocross team called Moto XXX. The team lasted 14 years and, according to him, changed the entire look and attitude of the sport: "It went from Walt Disney to Larry Flynt."