Punk In Drublic or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love NOFX
Hey Geronimo’s music doesn’t give too much of it away, but myself and Ross used to listen to a LOT of punk music… and I still do (the older stuff anyway). 90s punk music and 60s rock and roll. Throw a smattering grunge in there and that’s our jam. My friends at school all listened to punk music, and I followed suit. I never really got into bands like Guttermouth and No Use For A Name, but there was something that drew me to NOFX. I think it was the intelligence behind it all. And even when the songs were stupid – the fact you knew how clever the band were, made it good.
Anyway, fast forward 10 years. I’m on a plane, thinking I’m about to die (as I always do when on a plane) and figure it’s a good idea to revisit Punk In Drublic. Now Punk In Drublic was never my favourite NOFX record. I’m not sure why - maybe because I actually listened to it a bit later after getting into the band and so it didn’t have the same sentimental value to me. In fact, this was probably the 4th NOFX album I bought (on vinyl from Rockinghorse Records no less). That aside, I think it’s it's NOFX’s first “professional” record, namely in the production stakes. For me it marks the time when the band elevated itself above the pack of its peers – and stayed there.
There are legitimately 3 or 4 all time classic punk songs on this record. Linoleum, Don’t Call Me White, The Brews, Leave It Alone – all genius in the genre. Fat Mike’s lyrics are so goddamn good, but it's the genuine themes that run through NOFX tunes that resonate. Although Fat Mike occasionally cooks up characters Paul McCartney style, his writing is very personal. Early on in their career, NOFX's songs were basically all about being young vagrants - picking up chicks and getting loaded (1991's "Shower Days" was about not liking to shower), but as he aged the perspective changed. This attitude evolved over the next half a dozen albums, culminating in 1999's "The Decline" which was an 18 minute "post punk" odessey that referred to the slow but sure dumbing down of American society. 2003's War On Errorism actually came with an op-ed piece from the band, outlining the dismay they felt with the direction their country was headed (a 2004 appearance on Conan O'Brien saw the lyric "Bush loves dick but he hates homosexuals" snuck onto live TV). To be fair though, the band didn't descend solely into Progaghandi-style songwriting. A balance of personal beefs vs problems with the world at large would best describe where their writing ended up settling.
Themes aside, the band are all legitimately world-class rock musicians – something that can be overlooked when they’re singing about having STDs. I think the jokier songs make it onto the records because the band are very conscious of not drinking their own bathwater. Buying into the music industry bullshit and believing their own hype is a cardinal sin for this band.
Aaand, now I’m bored of writing. If you’re an old school fan, revisit this record, and this band. If you’re musically curious and you’re not familiar with NOFX or 90s punk in general, Punk In Drublic is as good a place to start as any.