NOFX's Fat Mike on Cokie the Clown, Drinking, and Occupy Wall Street
NOFX has been a mainstay of punk rock for almost 30 years. The band has gained notoriety for its antics and activism, recently getting banned from Emo's in Austin because frontman "Fat Mike" Burkett tricked the audience into believing he served free tequila shots mixed with his own urine.
When Fat Mike isn't busy working on the next NOFX album, running Fat Wreck Chords, and raising his daughter, he is dedicated to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
We recently caught up with Fat Mike to discuss belonging to the one percent, drinking on tour, and performing as Cokie the Clown.
NOFX is scheduled to perform at Marquee Theatre on Saturday, January 7.
Up on the Sun: I read that you guys like to keep your tours short. What is the purpose of your upcoming West Coast tour?
Fat Mike: We haven't played the west coast in about three years. I keep our tours short because we're alcoholics and after two weeks of partying a lot, we need to dry out. In our 20s it was easy to tour for six months, [but] after two weeks I'm sick.
NOFX is one of the greatest success stories of punk rock. You guys have been going strong for almost 30 years...how did you do it?
I think our records have been pretty solid, but I think mostly it's just because we have a really good time, and like I said before, being alcoholics keeps it fun.
When we come on stage, we're drunk, we're having a great time and I think that shows that people believe us. It's not like we're just doing a show after thirty years. It's not like we're just becoming a caricature of ourselves; we're actually drunk. We're actually having a great time, we're not just pretending to.
What does that make Cokie the Clown?
Oh, Cokie the Clown, he's a caricature (laughs), obviously. He's not really my alter ego, it's just a character. It's just someone I wrote a song about and I became him.
Yeah, and then I heard about the whole South by Southwest debacle.
It's so crazy because a lot of people don't understand that it's all performance art. I had everything planned out and it worked perfect. I was so surprised at how big it got nationally in TMZ and stuff. It was some idea I had and a lot of people thought I was depressed and lost my mind. I just put on a show, it was simple.
Are you guys still banned from Emo's?
Well, yeah, but it's a venue we never play at anyway. It's too small.
What do you think you'd be doing now if NOFX never got off the ground?
I went to college and got a degree, but I also went to real estate school, so I would probably be a real estate agent.
What was your experience like working on The Other F Word, and how has becoming a dad changed your career?
They just filmed me for a day. It wasn't intensive working on that movie, it was three years ago. How it changed me is when I'm not on tour, I sober up. So, all the time I spend with my daughter, I'm sober dad.
You guys have long been an outspoken band. What issues concern you the most right now?
I'm backing the Occupy movement. I know that cops are shutting it all down, but if you read the 10 things that have been posted that the occupy movement stands for, I think they're all reasonable. I think they should put the Glass-Steagall Act back in place, I think they have to hold banks accountable for ripping off America. I think people should squat their houses and not leave when they get forclosed on if they were issued the head of house in the first place. It seems like Americans are getting really screwed right now. There's no regulations in government, other than they have to make an amendment to the constitution that makes computer voting machines illegal [and use] paper ballots like every other country in the world.