“Now, my stories are sexually dangerous,” says ‘Fat Mike’ Burkett of NOFX. “As younger punk rockers, shit was more dangerous. But while the other guys have calmed down, my life has gotten a lot crazier. I took care of my shit into my early 30s, then once shit was going smooth, I started fucking up.”
It’s the stories of that danger – both sexual and regular – that comprise NOFX’s new book, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories. Considering the rarity of a successful punk band with a 33-year history and the personalities to match, Burkett and crew might be the only ones still coherent enough to tell stories about drinking piss – literally on the first page – and shooting dope while still putting on a badass concert every night of their current book tour.
“We’ve always talked about (putting out a book) for about 10 years,” Burkett says. “We want to make a public record of our lives. We’ve all had fucked up lives, and I think we’re the only ones who can tell those stories.”
Between that longstanding desire and Burkett reading Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, the Punk in Drublic legends decided it was time to pen their own tales. Not only is The Hepatitis Bathtub the first opportunity for fans to hear NOFX’s stories from their own perspective, but it’s also a welcome look into the history of a band that once went as far as shutting out all press opportunities and interviews. That said, they can’t be blamed for not wanting to do the same interview over and over again – particularly considering that their music sales and fan base have stayed ridiculously consistent over the decades.
“It’s really nice to talk about different stuff,” Burkett says. “We always used to get asked about Green Day and the Offspring (becoming popular), but now we get to promote our book. I would never tell anyone to go buy a NOFX record, but I’d tell them to go buy our book.”
As Burkett sees it, most NOFX fans will likely buy the book whether he tells them to or not. What the cynical frontman is most excited about is getting those who don’t know the words to “Linoleum” or “Dinosaurs Will Die” to check out the book as well.
“It’s gotten really good reviews so far,” Burkett says. “It’s not what people expect, but I’ve been asking people if they’d recommend buying the book to a friend, and everyone says they would. Motley Crue didn’t sell 750,000 copies of The Dirt because there are that many Motley Crue fans. They sold that many because people who don’t care about Motley Crue still want to read it.”
Rather than calling it a “rags to riches” tale, Burkett prefers “heroin to riches.” Either way, The Hepatitis Bathtub shines a whole new light on a band that’s been around for longer than many other punk rockers have even been alive. While some stories are what their diehard fans will expect them to be, much of the book will shock even those who have followed the band for 30 years.
“It’s the best and worst stories of our lives, and none of these stories have been told before,” Burkett says. “No one is going to look at us the same after they read this. It’s dark. They won’t just see us as a poppy skate-punk band from California anymore. They’ll see we’ve been through some shit on our way here.”
NOFX Tour Dates
April 14 – San Diego (book signing at Warwick’s in La Jolla and concert at House of Blues)
April 15 – Riverside (book signing at Barnes & Noble and concert at Riverside Municipal Auditorium)
April 16 – Los Angeles (book signing at Book Soup and concert at Belasco Theater)