Two days ago I finished reading The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories, the autobiography of NOFX. I absolutely loved it, it gave fresh insight into old songs and I feel like I know each member of the band so much better. It's a fascinating story, not just of the band (every member gets to tell their side of things, even ex-members Dave and Steve get to have their say) but there's also insights into the 80's L. A.Punk/Hardcore scene, the gang's that were around back then, drummer, Eric 'Smelly' Sandin's extensive dealings with heroin addiction and Fat Mike's fondness for S&M. There's funny stories, heartbreaking ones, moving ones and a whole lot of people dying. Even if you're not particularly a fan of the band it's still a really, really good read, if a little harrowing at times, disgusting at others but always entertaining. I think the fact it's written from several peoples' point of view means it never gets bogged down or heavy going, even at it's bleakest points. You should read it.
So, armed with this new, extensive knowledge of the band I sat down to write this review feeling very smug. I can knowingly allude to what songs are actually really about, slip in a quote or anecdote and wiggle my glasses in a very supercilious way.
Before I started I had a quick Google of other, better written, reviews as I always do (just in case I've missed something glaringly obvious like an Axl Rose cameo or something) and it turns out every other fucker has had exactly the same smarmy idea already.
I'll just soldier on with my limited vocabulary and barely any of the self-satisfaction I was hoping for. Hmph.
First Ditch Effort begins with Fat Mike and guitarist Eric Melvin arguing about who's going to sing lead on the opening track, Six Years On Dope, and end up both barking it out. It tells a very brief tale of Smelly's aforementioned heroin addiction. There's a couple of references I would never have noticed in this song if not for the book, such as his old gang, the Dog Patch Winos, for example. There's Caustic Cause, the band he played in before NOFX, plus a few others. Following that is Happy Father's Day which is a short, bitter attack on Fat Mike's father for never being there. It's starts with a nice little melodic intro before zooming off into familiar territory and is over almost as soon as it began.
Sid And Nancy is a fictional story about an affair between Sid Vicious and Nancy Reagan. There's some sparse but effective guest vocals from Karine Denike from Dance Hall Crashers on this one too.
California Drought is about Fat Mike going teetotal after spending years playing on a variety of drugs and alcohol. The previous three songs flew past in a blur so the less frenetic pace is welcome. It also features a trumpet solo from the other guitarist El Hefe, something that doesn't seem to have happened in a NOFX song for a while now. Parp
Another longer, slower song follows with Oxy Moronic, it deals with doctors propensity to dish out medication willy nilly, regardless of what harm they do. It's full of drug related puns like "they'll say my fears are quaaludicrous". Some are quite groan-worthy It's a decent song and an obvious choice for a single. Or song with a video at least.
I Don't Like Me Anymore is along the lines of older songs like The Death Of John Smith, The Separation Of Church And Skate or Dinosaurs Will Die in that it's got a fantastic, breakneck, widdly guitar riff powering it along. There's some great gang vocals in the chorus too. I guess it's about getting tired of drinking, doing drugs and waking up in the morning trying to remember what went on. Something like that anyway.
|(l-r) El Hefe, Eric Melvin, Fat Mike, Smelly|