NOFX is a punk rock band from California, formed back in ’83 by frontman and bassist Fat Mike and guitarist Eric Melvin. After a few changes in line-up, the current line-up of NOFX came together after El Hefe (guitar and occasional trumpet… yeh, seriously) and Erik Sandin (drums) joined up with the original founding members.
Originally they started out as a hardcore punk but had little success in record sales, till Green Day and The Offspring popularized punk in 1994. That year, NOFX released the breakthrough album “Punk in Drublic” (acronym for Drunk in Public). The album was released on Epitaph Record (the record company owned by Bad Religion’s guitarist), and got the band good exposure and an underground following, so they followed up by releasing a few more albums on Epitaph (including 2 of my personal favorites, the live album “I Heard They Suck Live”, and the 18-minute-long single-track Ep “The Decline” which is the 2nd longest punk rock song ever recorded).
With major record deals pouring in on them from every side, NOFX decided to stay true to their cause and did not sign any major labels, and instead frontman Fat Mike founded his own indie record company “Fat Wreck Chords”. They have been releasing material on Fat Wreck Chords ever since, and this is the part where we talk about their latest release: the “Cokie the Clown” Ep.First, an overview on the band’s style is in order.
NOFX are known for playing mostly fast and furious in-your-face punk rock and hardcore punk. Erik’s punk blasts on drums lay the foundation for any of their songs, with 2 overlapping distorted guitars playing filthy punk riffs, with the usual basic progressions and power chords, the bass filling the gap between the rhythm and guitars sections, and the occasional trumpet parts by El Hefe. The speed of the band’s songs have varied over the years, with a general direction of pretty fucking fast songs, and occasional slowed-down songs as the band often incorporates elements of Jazz and Reggae into their music. However, their true trademark definitely has to be their lyrics, as they are always ridiculously satirical, and either completely meaningless yet funny as hell, or deeply political and critical.
A look at the band’s discography, album and song names, will show you exactly what I’m talking about.After releasing their eleventh studio full-length earlier this year (April 2009), NOFX have not kept the fans waiting with the release of the “Coke the Clown” Ep.The Ep consists of 5 tracks which were written during the “Coaster” sessions but were left out to be released as a sort of intermediate between Coaster and the upcoming full-length.
The albums kicks off with the song “Cokie the Clown” (Shown on the cover, which is actually front man Fat Mike in a coked up clown costume), an fast, typical NOFX anti-sobriety song. Track 2 is “Straight Outta Massachusetts”, which is most probably a song about Fat Mike’s childhood. The next 2 tracks “Fermented and Failing” and “Co-dependence Day” are also typical NOFX songs in terms of structure and lyrics (alcoholism and what-not).
The real shocker of the album is the final track “My Orphan Year”. As if the song wasn’t depressing enough when it was originally released on Coaster, they went ahead and did an acoustic version of it. The song is about Fat Mike’s parents dying back in 2006, and is probably the only NOFX song with a serious mood … although a closer look at the lyrics shows some definite signs of sarcasm… This is NOFX after all!