NOFX bassist/vocalist Fat Mike has taken on a few notable side projects when he’s not performing or recording with the band. He’s written a memoir, a musical and a bondage film; and this year, he’s collaborated a beer with Stone Brewing and helped launch the multistate beer and music festival Punk in Drublic. What’s left for punk’s Renaissance Man? Plenty more beer and festivals.
DRAFT: Why did Stone seem like the right brewery to collaborate with on Punk in Drublic Hoppy Lager and the Punk in Drublic festivals?
Fat Mike: Cameron [from Brew Ha Ha Productions] thought Stone was the biggest independent beer company. NOFX has always run our business by putting out our stuff, so we thought we’d make a good team. I’m so glad they really involved me. They asked me what kind of beer I wanted and I said I wanted something light that you could drink all day. They let me pour the hops in the beer! It wasn’t just slapping our name on it.
Was the brewing process what you expected?
I had no expectations. Stone was fucking huge and they were so nice. They just let me have a good time. They said I had to wear boots and they got me a pair of pink rubber boots. We sat around after and I got to drink with all the brew dudes and it was really fun, really meant to happen. I think we’re gonna do a yearly brew. I don’t even know about the money or anything yet. We pretty much just said ‘Let’s do this.’ If you can’t trust a handshake, then you won’t be doing business with those people in a year anyway.
You have a few of the Punk in Drublic festivals under your belt now. How have they been?
Boise went exactly how we thought; it was really fun. Tacoma was huge, like nine or ten thousand people. We did about $300,000 worth of beer sales. That’s crazy. You’re going to a beer festival, you’re not gonna not drink. But it was so fun because there were five bands and I made a new rule—shit, it’s my festival, I can make rules—I don’t want punk rock to be played over the PA system between bands. Let’s play Herb Albert so you get a palate cleanse between bands. It made it so fun for, well, me. And I figure if I’m having a good time, everyone’s having a good time. Next year I hope we can do 18 shows around the country.
How did you choose the other bands that would be part of the festivals?
Bad Religion is not only my favorite band, but I think they’re the best punk band. We ride bikes together; we do the Warped Tour; we do festivals together in Europe. Finally we found a way to do a festival here together. So far all we’ve heard is that everyone in all the bands had a great time.
How has beer been a part of your music and your life in general?
Well, I know the first time NOFX played a show, we didn’t know we were playing. A band just said, ‘Hey, you can play four songs on our equipment.’ So I beer bonged a 40-ouncer of Old English. It took me two tries, so I did two beer bongs, then I was loaded when I first went on. I mean, I would not be Fat Mike if it wasn’t for beer. If I was drinking vodka when I was younger, maybe I’d Fit Mike. Any style of music is better with alcohol but for punk beer is perfect. You can’t have a martini punk festival. You really can’t.
You’ve written a musical, brewed a beer with Stone, launched these festivals. What side projects are there that you’d still like to accomplish?
The musical has been such a thorn in my side because we’ve opened [the musical] and done very well but we haven’t opened Broadway yet. I’ve been working on it really hard for six or seven years. We were slotted to open Broadway at the end of this year and our producer won’t let us open at the end of this year because of “Frozen.” He says you just can’t beat “Frozen.” I was so upset about it; finally John [Cameron Mitchell], you know from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, he said “Mike, let it go, let it go.” I guess if you want to win best musical, you can’t go against Disney or Sondheim. But really, I just gotta do stuff. I’m not happy when I’m not doing stuff.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? Beer, music …?
I’ll tell you the story of how I first got drunk. I didn’t drink or try drugs until I was in my 30s, really. I was just a good kid. But my friend and I decided when we were 16 that we were gonna try getting drunk. As we were walking back to his house in Newport Beach near the docks in Balboa Island, we saw a bag next to a boat and it had a six pack of Mickey’s big mouth in it. It was cold, no one was there, so we picked it up and went to his house. We each drank three Mickey’s, got really shitfaced and watched David Letterman. And it was the Letterman episode with Andy Kaufman on it. It was fucking perfect.
Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.