Satirical Californian punks display cockroach-like endurance.
Ben Myers 2013-02-08
If you’ve ever seen NOFX play live you might have noticed their infamous backdrop, a comically hand towel-sized banner that has been lowered and raised above stages the world over for years. Symbolically – and just like the band’s chosen moniker – it speaks volumes.
Often sandwiched on festival bills between over-earnest metal bands or more successful but sonically drab pop-punk bands, it seems to suggest that NOFX primarily exist to wave a raised digit at rock convention – and to have a good time doing it.
And that’s good because ‘rock’ and ‘convention’ should never be in the same sentence.
Since 1983 NOFX have taken their little banner to more countries than most, with their 2008 TV show Backstage Passport presenting them snorting bizarre green powder in Singapore, telling Jewish jokes in Israel and being smuggled out of their own riotous show in Peru, all with a joie de vivre sadly bereft in more career-minded American rock bands.
Lead by clown prince of punk and shrewd entrepreneur ‘Fat Mike’ Burkett, NOFX have been making other bands look bad through thick and thin times for the genre.
They formed when the genre was dead in the water, lived through the punk revival of the mid-90s and today occupy a position as the ethically sound / media-unfriendly band that most others (Blink-182, Green Day) secretly want to be.
Amazingly, NOFX have done this playing variations of the same one or two melodic punk songs, as heard over the 12 studio albums collected here to celebrate three decades years of unapologetic tomfoolery.
From ragged beginnings on 1988’s Liberal Animation, to discovering harmonies on 1991’s under-rated Ribbed the band hit a peak with 1994’s Punk in Drublic. They then found new purpose under the Bush regime with 2003’s The War on Errorism.
Basically, NOFX have been melding the same galloping drums with duelling melodic guitars and singer Burkett’s Eric Cartman-esque vocals and politically satirical lyrics over and over.
Yes, there have been diversions into ska, reggae, hardcore, mock-opera and even – gulp – the odd acoustic song. But as with Chuck Berry, Motörhead or the Ramones, ultimately with NOFX the song remains the same.
And in this case that’s no bad thing at all.