Fat Mike

January 28, 2014

This is Fat Mike from NOFX. I got tricked into doing this, shit! AMA

Hi, I’m Fat Mike.

I play bass and sing in NOFX and sometimes play bass in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. I’m also president of Fat Wreck Chords (http://www.fatwreck.com/) and occasionally go into the office for meetings. I sorta produce bands at my studio Motor Studios. I co-own a dungeon in downtown LA called Dungeon Snakeoil, where I also like to spend my weekends. When I’m not taking my daughters to school or writing songs, I’m usually badly golfing or riding my bike around San Francisco. I like taking all kinds of drugs and drinking in excess but only when I’m on tour, or out of town. I recently got engaged to my long time girlfriend and Domme, Soma Snakeoil. Sound confusing? It is…. Oh, also I’m a bowling champion!

Whats new? NOFX has the second season of our cancelled TV show Backstage Passport coming out on DVD in a few months. We also are putting finishing touches on a NOFX tell all book that will be out by Christmas.

Also, My restaurant in Brooklyn, Thistle Hill Tavern is a having a special on Korean Beef (http://www.thistlehillbrooklyn.com/) Tell em Fatty sent you.



What inspired the second season of Backstage Passport? Will this one also be censored?

Shit, I gotta do my own typing? This is bullshit! Anyway, We wanted to do another season cuz its super fun. This one isn't censored, in fact you get to see me and Melvin do a whole bunch of South American blow.

What about Melvin's giant cock?

What about it. It's huge! but not as big as Dave Quackenbush's from the Vandals. He's got the biggest cock in punk rock. Thats what Joe Escalante says anyway.

You always have great and different setlists each night on tour, how do you guys choose your setlists each night?

Gee thanks, I usually take a valium and have a few vodka drinks and I write a setlist about an hour before the show. then Hefe and Melvin come look at it and practice the songs that we haven't played in a while. The drunker I get the more obscure songs I put in.

Can you explain a bit about your beer, Stickin' in my Rye? How the idea came about, how you selected the brewery and beer style, etc?

I dont know, some guy on the east coast said he wanted to start brewing NOFX beer. He sent me a growler I drank it (after my taster drank the first glass). It was great and now we're making plans to package it in cans. Kinda cool.

Who's the biggest douche in the punk rock world?

If you can't tell who the biggest douche is, its probably you. But I can think of a few. How about Greg Ginn?

i would guess weasel or fletcher

Fletcher is not a douche, he's a hero! He once picked me up and threw me across the room for no reason at all. Once he threw me on a drum set during our show. Once he shot me in the back with an automatic BB gun. Not douchey...fun!!!

Hey Fatso, how's the new Gimmes album coming? Can you tell us the theme? If not, what are some ideas you had for Gimmes albums that didn't work?

Thanks, been a fan for many years!

New Gimmes album just got finished last week, and the theme is Divas! We do Streisand, Aguilera, and Lady Gaga among others. Its pretty douchey (pun intended), but good.

What is the worst US state to play a NOFX show in?


Hey Fat Mike! What drugs have you not tried yet?

I haven't tried heroin or PCP or meth. I tried Kaht and GHB while I was in South Africa, but I was on coke and MDMA so I didn't really feel them. Oh, Darla, Daddy's just kidding.

Hey, Mike. What's the worst reaction an artist has had to you making fun of them on stage?

I made fun of Shirley Mansion once and she kicked me in the shin. Once the singer of Skunk Anansie slapped my face. And of course I got Under Oath to quit the Warped Tour and eventually break up cuz all the shit I talked about them. I think they really think I am the anti christ... pretty close.

Hey Mike, how big was your involvement in the musical writing process of "Transgender Dysphoria Blues?" It's been in my car non-stop since I got it last week. Did you and Laura bounce ideas off each other about your bass lines in "Unconditional Love" and "FuckMyLife666," or did she hand you the riffs and asked you to play them? And how exactly did you manage to get asked to record with Against Me!?

That was really cool to record with her. I came up with the bass line for Unconditional Love and was super nervous to show her, cuz I never had to get the OK to record a bass line before. But she liked it and I love how it turned out. The other two songs I recorded, I just played what Laura wrote. Good album. I gave Laura some tips on applying lipstick too, but she didn't appreciate those too much...

Has there ever been a band you wanted to sign to Fat Wreck Chords but just weren't able to?

I had a chance to sign the Lillingtons but I blew it. Thats the band I still want on the label. Death by Television fucking rules!

Who do you think is the best bass player, and why is it Matt Freeman?

Because Lars said so on stage. I heard it.

Hey Mike! Who is your favorite young punk band? Who are some of your favorite bands besides NOFX

I just got a 7" called Fucking Up Young by the Dirty Nil. Fucking great! I hope to sign them someday, but they wont call me back.

Do you enjoy playing The Decline live?

I really do like playing it a lot. I like to see how wasted I can get and still get through it. I was on E once and couldn't remember what part was coming up next, but my hands went to all the right places. Stupid brain...

What band that you have signed to Fat Wreck Chords are you most proud of?

Not to be a downer, but putting out all of Tony Sly's many records was an honor.

What band first got you into the punk rock scene?

What is you all time favorite band?

What parts of the punk idea/lifestyle do you identify with the most and which are bullshit?

I heard the Ramones in 79 and loved it. Then I saw X in 81 and was hooked for life. Bad Religion will always be my favorite band.

Hi, have you ever worn a fox tail butt plug and if so, would you wear one while playing a show?

Fox tail butt plugs are for girls, dummy!

Hey Mike, greetings from down under.

You said years ago in an interview that you're often surprised how cool some bands are that you thought were gonna be dicks, I think Papa Roach was an example. Any other bands who are surprisingly cool guys, or just massive dicks?

4 super cool bands: Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Slipnot, Oasis (some members)

Not cool: Alice in Chains, Slayer, Arctic Monkeys, and surprisingly DEVO

Please don't say Josh Freese is the dick in DEVO. That dude is one of my heroes.

Josh wasn't there for the show when they were total dicks.

Hey Mike! Thanks for doing this! NOFX has been my favorite band for a long time, and I've been digging on Fat releases for a long time too. Anyway, here are my questions:

  1. What was your favorite time period in NOFX history to tour?

  2. A lot of the bands you've been signing to Fat in the past few years have come from Red Scare (Teenage Bottlerocket, Masked Intruder, Cobra Skulls). Are there any other smaller labels you look to in finding new bands for Fat?

  3. NOFX has had the same lineup for 20+ years now, and everyone's individual personality and musicianship really show through in live shows and on records. If one of the members wanted to call it quits, would NOFX call it quits as well? Would you consider replacing them and continuing on?

  4. Do you have any favorite covers of NOFX songs? What's your favorite version of Linoleum?

asking 4 questions is just rude! and there's actually 6! jerk!

I really admire your song writing style. How do you begin writing? Lyrics or melody? Do you plan out the arrangement and present it to the band, or do you have the lyrics and general outline of the song and let everyone join in until it meshes together?

I usually start with a song title. Then the chords and melody always are written at the same time. Can't write chords without a melody. Thats why I always think its weird when a band writes a song musically and shows it to the singer. Here, now sing something over this. Thats just crazy. Anyway... Song title, chords and melody, lyrics last. Then I show the band and they add stuff sometimes.

What's your least favorite part about answering lame questions from a bunch of lonely douche bags. The waste of time?

I'm actually having a pretty good time. This totally beats answering questions by one magazine writer who doesn't know shit.

If you could give one tip to a beginning punk band, what would it be?

Start taking drugs and drinking a lot. You are going to eventually, so you might as well start now.

Hey Mike, is it true Fat Wreck almost shut down? What were the reasons? How is it doing now?

Nope, not true, we just had to downsize a bit. Things are great here now. I'm even here right now. Its like a huge party... cept everyones on their computer and no ones smiling. hmmm

What's up with Tim Armstrong....is he alright?

he's awright.

Fat Mike

Are there any plans for an autobiography?

yeah, but I need to hire someone else to write it.

Were the stories from your Cokie the Clown SxSw show true or just entertaining bullshit? Either way I'm fucking glad that show happened.

All true!

In one of George Carlin's books he has a list of rhymes you never hear and one of them is Nudist/Buddhist. Did that have anything to do with the same rhyme in x-mas has x'd or was it just coincidence?

What a coincidence, George Clooney is on reddit right now. I love that guy.

Huge fan of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords. I have some questions:

  1. Do you feel that punk rock becomes much more popular and angry when a Republican is president? and do you think there’s a double standard with punk when a democrat is in office? Obviously punk was popular with Clinton in the mid-90s, and both of the main parties are incredibly flawed, but it seems that a vast majority of political punk bands will have an extreme anti-Bush or anti-Reagan sentiment when on stage during those presidential times and will be incredibly outspoken against their actions (rightfully so), but when Obama does the same thing, it's not talked about much. As a result of Bush, you started Rock Against Bush and Punk Voter which is great. Of course Bush was (at least in our opinions) much worse than Obama, but I still look at punk as being a political genre aimed at questioning government and while that does exist, it seems that explicitly questioning the current administration isn’t present much. I'm not trying to put down those bands but there seems to be less anger and a double standard when a democrat is in office. For example, Obama’s drone strikes, NDAA and other policies are not talked much in punk, but Bush’s policies were.

  2. Quite a few bands who started out (or signed early in their career) to Fat Wreck Chords such as Anti-Flag, Against Me! and especially Rise Against got quite big. Now Rise Against are headlining arenas and are a popular to a lot of people who listen to rock, let alone punk. I know you started Fat Wreck Chords in 1990 because of the lack of many labels at the time, but did you think Fat Wreck Chords would be one of the most popular labels in punk? Obviously the bands I mentioned got big when they signed to major labels, but that doesn’t strip away from the fact that Fat Wreck Chords is now a popular punk label and is seen as a stepping stone for some bands (I think the next Fat Wreck band become popular are The Flatliners.)

  3. Can you tell us the story about you, Matt Skiba and Billie Joe Armstrong with cocaine and Mexican gangsters?

I'll answer question #3. Nope

but I am gonna tell it on the Green Day documentary.

Hey Fatty! Quick question about your label. Of course everyone loves NOFX, Lagwagon, Strung Out and No Use (RIP) but what do you feel are the most underrated artists and/or records on Fat? For me it's a toss up between Only Crime's Virulence and Tony Sly's Sad Bear. Virulence just kicks unreal amounts of ass and Sad Bear, in my opinion, has some of the most beautiful songwriting and arrangements I have EVER heard, and it somehow completely flew under the radar. What are your choices? Thanks for all the great music!

I agree with your choices, both great albums. Western Addiction and Frenzal Rhomb are also sadly overlooked.

What was your best experience with drugs? Worst experience with drugs?

My worst experience with drugs was in Canada. I smoked a few bowls of weed and got the munchies, so I ate some cookies. Then Kent told me those were pot cookies I just ate. Worst night ever. I made the bus pull over for 2 hours just so I could lay on the floor in fetal position. Second worst was eating pot at Disneyland. Sat on a bench for 4 hours. Kids.... dont eat pot!

How come you forgot the lyrics to i believe in goddess in san francisco. best song ever, and you fucked it up!

When I fuck up the lyrics to that song I get my ass beat. So I tend to fuck them up whenever possible.

How did the cat get so fat?


Will you ever try to up the bar one more time - as in try to go above and beyond what you thought you could do as a musician? It's hard to one-up the Decline, but have you ever considered doing something out of left field again that would really test the bounds of your songwriting and musicality?

Nope, I'm just gonna coast from here on out.

Hi Mike, is iT true that you Guys met THE dutch punkrock band Fexet on the airport two years ago and that they supported nofx that year? If that's true that is fucking cool of you guys!

Yeah, we met this band Fexet at the airport. They were like 15 year olds. We asked them if they wanted to open for us in a few days. They did, and now we can't seem to get rid of them.

When was the last time you had to drink piss?

Not since New Years. :(

Which one of your albums was closest to turning out great? And what went wrong with it?

I think Wolves in Wolves clothing could have been our best record if we took off Getting High on the Down Low, Cool and Unusual punishment, and Cantado en espanol, and put Everything in Moderation on it. Yep, I love that album.

How do you manage to get such technical and clean bass parts on records ? Cheers

I get Matt Freeman to play my parts for me.

Can I ask you a question?

Thats a good question, lemme think on that for a while...

my dick has a weird curve, why?

You're gay!

Remember when you stuck a paperclip in your computer and fried your hard drive?

Ha, I do...that fan was just making too much noise!

Where was the shittiest place you've ever played?

Phillipines kinda sucked

I would just like to say thank you for putting on an incredible show in Boston, calling my father epileptic when he passed out, and getting kissed like a real man. I remember seeing you guys when I was 7 at my second Warped Tour. My father and I haven't seen you guys since but through the years we listened to NOFX and the Gimmie Gimmies every time I went to his house. I'm 21 now and I can honestly say that thanks to you my father and I have an incredibly strong bond through music. Thank you.

I just call em like I see em.

How could you let Cobra Skulls go on hiatus. You should have locked them in your studio and get them to write one song a day.

Also i'm form Germany and therefore have to insult you, dick!

Isn't that schwanz?

How do fights usually turn out with your girlfriend/domme?

Nobody wins. But then She wins. She always wins. It's part of the deal.

How do you feel about all the pop-punk bands (blink, Green Day, etc.) that have used your music as an inspiration? Do you like them, hate them?


What is your "safe" word?

Safewords are for amateurs

What are you reading these days?

Please Kill Me and Lullaby

Have you ever been able to find what you dubbed the "Green Dragon" that you guys snorted on Backstage Passport again?

I haven't found it again, but I know how to make it!!!

Fat Mike,

Which fans do you like the most?

Eastern Canada, Eastern Australian, Northern Japanese, and South American

I seriously have no idea what I'm doing...

Neither do I

nofx will play here in Brasil in 2014?

Yes, we will not play Brasil in 2114?

[No question]

I think I'm done. Thanks for questions. Maybe one day we can all meet at Gilman Street and have some beers. Last rounds on me!

It's really late and I feel horrible that I missed this AMA when it first started but there's something I wanted to say to you that I've been wanting to say since I was 14 years old.

I just wanted to say thank you. At that time in my life I was going through a lot of shit. It sounds cliche and people say this stuff all the time but I really was. I was being abused by my stepdad on a daily basis. I have the scars both visible and emotional to prove it. What you and your band did for me was offer an escape. I got into punk rock because of you. Learned to not take life so seriously even though I was in a bad situation. I won't say I took the enlightened path. I did drugs, played music, did crazy things with both women and men but dammit I had fun for the first time in my entire life as a teenager. I escaped the daily torment I was going through and it's all because I found an outlet through the music you played.

Seriously, thank you.

Glad I could help. :)

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Fat Mike conducted on Reddit on 2014-01-28. The Reddit AMA can be found here.