American punk band from California NOFX is in town this week, and giving us a little glance into their 30-year history, we sit down with co-founder and guitarist Eric Melvin. With dreadlocks as his signature fashion statement throughout the years, the science fiction fan is all about keeping it real.
You guys have been together for a long time – aren’t you sick of each other yet..?
We have been sick of each other since the 90’s, but that’s a part of being any group of people that have worked together as closely as we have for 30 years. We are also very much like a family, Mike, Smelly and Hefe are like brothers to me, we’ve been all over the world together, stayed up long nights together and had to see each other’s faces the next morning at 5am to go to another airport to fly someplace and do it all over again, day after day, week after week, year after year. That goes for our crew as well: we’ve been through so much together, grown up some, regressed a lot, first and second marriages, children, divorces, you name it, we’ve been through it together.
Eric, you and Mike formed the band. Did you just want to play music back then or did you have some sort of score to settle with the various interest groups you seem to so enjoy pissing off?
We wanted to play punk rock music and go on tour. Punk is as Punk does.
Why punk? What did you grow up listening to – was ska, punk and hardcore the natural evolution of those musical influences? And at what point did you think, hmmmm, what our band needs is a trumpet?
Punk rock music resonated with me from the first moment I heard it, which was the Circle Jerks Group Sex cassette. It’s 15 minutes long; the entire album was on each side. The trumpet arrived along with El Hefe. As a child I listened to my parents’ records, my favourites were Queen and Elton John.
Do you see yourselves as part of the evolution of punk into mainstream? It seemed to coincide with your most commercially successful album to date, Punk in Drublic – was this album a turning point?
I think we influenced a lot of the punk rock music that became commercially successful. We became more popular with people who sought us out, but we tried very hard to stay out of the mainstream.
You guys have some great nicknames: Mike Burkett is Fat Mike, Eric Sandin goes by Smelly, and Aaron Abeyta is of course El Hefe. What about you Eric, do you have one we don’t know about?
Sometimes I go on tour with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes replacing Mike on bass. The drummer Dave calls me Uncle Buckle.
What’s your favourite/most hated/most interesting song/album and why?
I love them all.
How do audiences differ in North America as compared to Europe?
Read the lyrics to our song Insulted By Germans, Again.
Many of your lyrics are very clever – who does most of the writing or do you collaborate?
Fat Mike does all the lyric writing since about 1987, I wrote the music for Cell-Out on our new release, Self-Entitled
It’s been said you don’t like to give interviews – why did you consent to this one?
Because you are from Ukraine, my grandfather on my father’s side was born somewhere between Odessa and Kherson.
What are you expecting of Ukraine? Any final thoughts for fans here?
I half expect everyone to look like a brother, sister, or cousin of mine.
NOFX (US, punk)
Stereoplaza (Kikvidze 17), 2 July at 21.00
Tickets: 320 –500hrv. 067-445-3458
by Lana Nicole