Spotlight: Fat Mike (NOFX)
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Ah, yes, the Jew; known to us punk rockers as the beloved wordsmith, Fat Mike. The man that created that iconic skate punk voice that you'd probably recognise anywhere. You know, the gravel-filled scratchy tone that screamed rebellion and lack of care towards sounding pitch-perfect. Yeah, that one. That's our boy.
Ever since the eighties, Fat Mike has been building his legacy alongside punk heroes, NOFX, as one of the most iconic bands in the punk rock scene. With more albums you could shake a stick at and enough gig experience to make up for two thousand small-time bands clashed together, Fat Mike and his boys have forged their names in stone at the very pinnacle of punk rock. But, to those who don't tend to follow the punk scene, you may take one glance at our lad here and think, 'humph, okay, so what's so special about this Jewish dude?' Alright, I'll give you a few reasons for that question. In fact, I'll drop the first one right here:
Hands down one of the most recognisable punk tracks of our generation. And, although recorded over fifteen years ago, it still rings true and is more relevant than ever even in todays society. That's sort of why we love NOFX. They can release gold, and then a decade or two later you'll still be able to understand it and slot it in to any modern scenario.
Fat Mike, who also owns Fat Wreck Chords, has been around for so many years now. And, we fully expect him to be around for many more years, too. Because as the saying goes, 'PUNKS NOT DEAD!'. And, that's true. You know, so long as people like Fat Mike still choose to fight for the scene and continue to shove good music into our petty faces.
There's no doubt in my mind that Fat Mike cares too much about what people think of him or his beliefs. Heck, I guess that's what punk rock is all about: not really caring about much at all. Or about anything for that matter. Fat Mike has been known to slate his own music, make jokes about fellow headliners, and even go WAY over the given time slot at a gig or two. But, I guess, that's why we love him. He's unpredictable. And, I can't begin to tell you the amount of times I've shown up to a NOFX gig and still been able to walk away scratching my head whilst saying things like 'why was there a twenty-minute trumpet solo at the end?'
Fat Mike has helped bring so many punk bands to life over the decades. With associated bands like The Real McKenzies, Mad Caddies, Lagwagon, Good Riddance, and a whole heap more signed under the Fat Wreck Chords label, our boy, Mike, has been able to skyrocket to the very apex of the punk world. In style.
When you think of bands like NOFX, you automatically assume it'll be edgy punch-drunk anthems packed with aggression and political slams. And, whilst part of that is true, NOFX have still been able to throw a couple of wild cards onto the board over the years, too. And, by that, I mean they've written songs about vaginas and wanting to be like Steven Hawking. Oh, and seeing a girl pee. So, not entirely political.
But, fast-forward to present day and you'll notice Fat Mike steering towards different projects. And, one project that has managed to catch all NOFX fans attention is his very own alter-ego 'Cokie The Clown' debut album. Now, that's some pretty dark stuff, right there. Actually, it's the opposite of NOFX. But, it has so much heart and it manages to show you this punk rocker for who he really is beneath the layers of leather and attitude. Strip away the smoke screen and you'll see a man; a man no different from any of us. With the same emotions any human possesses, and a heart made of water that has felt a whole world of pain. It's that very man who manages to tug on our heartstrings and sit us down for thirty minutes just to say, 'hey man, I'm hurting, too'. Cokie The Clown was a different approach to the scene. And, rather than having flushed out harmonics and thirty-second punk riffs, it just sort of mellowed out and became just one man and his acoustic guitar. That, with a notepad full of stories and feelings, was really all it took to make a grown man shed a tear or two. And, to be honest, it kind of gave long-term fans a reason to worry. Not only for the direction of Fat Mike's career, but also for his own mental health, too.
Fat Mike has taken quite a few bullets from not only the media, but the public, too. And, if anything, he's probably battered and worn from the decades of hard work and handfuls of criticism thrown at him by now. So, for lifelong fans of not only NOFX, but Fat Mike, too, it's heartbreaking to see the latest transformation from street punk to broken soul. As for NOFX, well, they're still on top of their game and performing every year without fail. That's something I don't think will change. Because, honestly, these guys have so much passion for the scene and their loyal fanbase. So, as long as Fat Mike keeps his head up, the bands ascension can only take them to newer heights. Still, makes you wonder when seeing the energy on stage these days. Sometimes, it's rather hard to think that this incredible man before us is stronger than we'd like to believe. Maybe he doesn't show his dark side in person, but when it comes to his writing desk, he's another person entirely. And I think it's that person a lot of us are afraid of these days. Fat Mike - keep at it, mate. And remember, it's your job to keep punk rock elite.
- Jord Tury The Void (Editor)