parody by nacrowe
PUNK bands by definition are not meant to last. just look at that first round of late 70s originators or their HARDCORE brethren during the 1980s, most put out a record or two and then disbanded in near complete OBSCURITY. such being the case, it is almost ABSURD that NOFX are winding down their forty year, fifteen studio album career with a final tour and probable upcoming release or two for good measure. not only that, they objectively got better as musicians and songwriters as they went along is which is the absolute opposite ethos of the genre with the TIRED "LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG" credo. then again, NOFX always was a band that reveled in being a PARADOX.
more than any other MODERN PUNK band that i can think of, NOFX embodied the SNARKY CONTRARIANISM that came with being FORTHRIGHT and SELF-AWARE to the point of (and sometimes beyond) being SELF-DEPRECATING. BAD RELIGION was as politically OUTSPOKEN but more SERIOUS, AUTHORITATIVE and ACADEMIC in PRESENTATION and TONE (which makes sense since LYRICIST and contributing SONGWRITER GREG GRAFFIN is in fact a professor). RANCID were objectively more TALENTED as MUSICIANS and SONGWRITERS, but frontman TIM ARMSTRONG had a more IMPRESSIONISTIC and CONFESSIONAL aspect to his compositions, even the numbers that addressed political issues. as a GENIUS WORDSMITH, for him it was less about a specific point being addressed and more about exploring a DISPARATE POINT-OF-VIEW and MINDSET in his lyrics. BLINK-182 expressly borrowed aspects of the SNARKY CONTRARIANISM of NOFX but really dialed down the INTELLIGENCE and SELF-EVIDENT ABSURDIST comedy behind such, leaving just REDUNDANT JUVENILITY in its stead.
and for me, part of the whole SCHTICK around NOFX was that this whole SELF-DIMINISHING "WE'RE JUST A PUNK BAND" routine was a smokescreen for a band that really had a STRONG PRESENCE and sense of AMBITION. just look at THE DECLINE (FAT WRECK CHORDS, 1999) release and its lone 18+ minute track, complete with SOPHISTICATED LEIHTMOTIFS and thematic callbacks a la opera. before GREEN DAY and talk of ROCK OPERAS, NOFX had already been there, done that on one masterfully EPIC track. another case in point was vocalist and main songwriter FAT MIKE's PUNKVOTER.COM campaign to support JOHN KERRY in his 2004 campaign to defeat then-incumbent president GEORGE W. BUSH. lots of HARDCORE bands going back to the 70 and 80s complained about MARGARET THATCHER and RONALD REAGAN, but how many actively built up a coalition to effect change a la FAT MIKE. i'll answer that: no one. the most ADMIRABLE thing about the members of NOFX is that in spite of their DEPRECATING PRESENTATION, these guys are actual doers who take actual real-life risks. FAT MIKE stuck his neck out and ultimately was not successful in ousting BUSH, but so what. he acted where his peer group historically only impotently reacts.
my hope is that this is not the end of the road for the band as a CREATIVE ENERY and that if FAT MIKE continues on a solo journey that his former bandmates are common characters along the way, because the band is UNIQUE and has effected change arguably more than any other MODERN PUNK band. this in spite of their TIRED on-stage dad jokes.
embedded below is a very recent DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that includes a playlist celebrating the career of the iconic SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUNK ROCK band NOFX. enjoy!