L-R: Erik Sandin, Eric Melvin, Fat Mike, El Hefe
At this point in your career, why do a double album?
“It just seems like the right time. We have a lot of records. I’m not sure how many, I think we have 15 studio albums, with 10 more EP’s, three live albums, and 45 7”’s. I wanted to do a double album cuz it’s a challenge and I don’t think there’s any really good double albums out there. Pink Floyd’s The Wall is about it. Quadrophenia is pretty good… if you’re a Who fan. Definitely not [The Beatles’] White Album. I don’t think anybody else has made a good double album. Certainly not Husker Du, Minutemen, or Smashing Pumpkins.
“I really like Single Album a lot. I like every song, but the songs on Double Album aren't quite as good. All these songs were recorded in the same month, but I didn’t finish the second album until two years later. I think it’s a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest. I think it is what a lot of our fans will want to hear. I think it’s a great side three and four for a double album. I believe I accomplished my goal of making a solid double-album, but it just took a lot longer than I expected.”
Reuniting with punk-rock legends Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore for producer/engineering/mixing duties; it’s not hyperbolic to say NOFX are making their best music now. But that's not to imply everything else they’ve done was mediocre, either. Double Album reminds both ardent fans and casual listeners that NOFX weren’t born to follow trends. Indeed NOFX—Fat Mike, guitarists Eric Melvin and El Hefe and drummer “Smelly” Eric Sandin—have carved their logo into the veneer of punk-rock culture for decades. With nearly 40 years in this circus, you’re going to meet people and do/see/conspire to get all the wildest shit done. Remember how one of the stipulations of the NOFX book Hepatitis Bathtub was that none of the band members could see what the other ones were writing about them? Well, this time, Mike got permission to blow up the foibles and peccadillos of people in song for maximum velocity and hilarity.
There’s “Joanna Constant Teen,” a 78-second tribute to the dominatrix that spent six weeks in Mike’s NYC-based Airbnb during the production run of his musical, Home Street Home. (“She just moved in and did bad things to me every night. She’d be like, ‘Mike, it’s time to write another song. Get started, or you know what will happen!’ That was really cool. Obviously, I intentionally didn’t write that much”) “Alcopollack” is about booking agent David Pollock, who has worked with the band for over 30 years and has lost more than his fair share of clients for his too-brazen honesty. (“I asked him if it was OK if we put this on the album, and he's like, ‘Yeah sure, it’s mean, but funny.’”) “Fuck Day Six” is a story detailing the time Mike cleaned out (pun sorta intended) in a rehab run by Buddhists, with plenty of name (and deuce) dropping. (“Anybody who has gotten off of opiates knows what ‘day six’ means.”) “Is It Too Soon If Time Is Relative” is a hilarious ‘n’ cruel takedown of the acclaimed author/physicist Stephen Hawking. (“I wrote that before he died,” is Mike’s mea culpa. “It's not quite as funny anymore because he never got to hear it.”)
Naturally, Mike has made a career drilling and riveting the word “self” into “self-deprecation,” and he’s sure as hell not going to stop now. With such future classics as “Darby Crashing Your Party?”, Punk Rock Cliche, the song that got dropped off the Blink album California after the band found out that Skiba co wrote it with Fatty (Although it was their favorite song https://www.nme.com/news/music/blink-182-37-1206817 .... Mike also admits that the Blink version of the song was better), and the too-real, too-bittersweet, too-funny tracks “My Favorite Enemy” and “Don’t Count On Me,” he’s still ready to take a cream pie to the face, even if it has broken glass and sharpened nails in it.
“You have to laugh at everything,” Mike reveals, “because the world is just falling apart and you have to have a good attitude and not take everything too seriously. So this is how I've always done it. I make people laugh every day. I usually do it in a self-deprecating way, it's just how I go through life: I have as much fun as I can. That's what life is—trying to find all the happiness you can. And spreading happiness. Which is what I feel like is supposed to be my job in life—spreading joy.”
The determination to continue making compelling music, keeping the bar high for punk and doing the best thing for their punk-rock legacy, makes NOFX simply unstoppable. Double Album is filled with moods, tales and tempos slightly faster than an ice-road trucker backsliding down a hill. What’s their secret? Quite simply, NOFX aren’t half-assing anything.
Mike laughs. “I full-ass everything. Literally.”