NOFX – Punk in Drublic

Part 15 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I grew up in a very small house in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. The house I lived in was part of a federal government project built in 1942 to house employees of the Johnsville Center. The houses themselves are very quaint, row home style (something I don’t see a lot of in the Seattle, WA area). Each house has a front and back yard (sometimes they blend into each other) and has something that most modern neighborhoods lack – a sense of community. My parents both worked hard to provide, and I lived in this house with my brother and sister. In such close confines, it was inevitable that some of my brother’s musical tastes would rub off on me (he is 3 years younger than me).

My brother is a funny guy – a punk rock playing, skateboard riding kind of guy. In some ways more free with what he does than I ever will be (in a feeble attempt to be like my younger brother, I started skimboarding 6 years ago). His musical loves were slightly more mainstream than mine (with the exception of our shared love of 90’s Britpop) – very much in the vein of pop-punk. Blink-182, Pennywise, No Use For a Name….and one band that has stayed with me throughout the years – NOFX. Their Punk in Drublic album is a masterpiece of the early 90’s pop-punk sound that for a short time took the radio waves by storm. I prefer this album to Green Day’s Dookie any day of the week. It serves a dual purpose for me – (1) – a fantastic album, great tunes and (2) – an album that triggers fond memories of growing up in a small house, my brother playing it over and over.

A little more about NOFX from the go to source for factual and reliable information on the “World Wide Web” – Wikipedia:

“NOFX (pronounced “No-ef-ex”) is an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California (later relocating to San Francisco).[5] The band was formed in 1983 by vocalist/bassist Fat Mike and guitarist Eric Melvin.[5] The band rose to popularity with its album Punk in Drublic (1994), which was certified gold, and is now considered a classic punk album by fans and critics alike. NOFX’s mainstream success was signified by a growing interest in punk rock during the 1990s, along with fellow California bands Pennywise, Rancid, Bad Religion, Green Day, The Offspring and Sublime. Unlike some of those bands, however, NOFX has never been signed to a major label. The group has sold over 10 million records worldwide,[8] making them one of the most successful independent bands of all time.”

Possessions never meant anything to me

Linoleum – the album begins with one of the best pop-punk songs of all time. The music seems to be racing to something – snotty vocals, making fun of materialistic people (something I completely agree with). The chorus has been lodged in my head for about 18 years now. All music fades away with just a punk guitar backing Fat Mike as he sings the chorus. Perfect start to the album. Key lyrics:

Possessions never meant anything to me
I’m not crazy
Well that’s not true, I’ve got a bed, and a guitar
And a dog named Bob who pisses on my floor
That’s right, I’ve got a floor
So what, so what, so what?
I’ve got pockets full of kleenex and lint and holes
Where everything important to me
Just seems to fall right down my leg
And on to the floor
My closest friend linoleum

Leave It Alone very similar feeling to the opener, though not quite as memorable. A sense of melancholy seems to be in the air with this song. Features a snotty punk chorus consisting of “DA NA NA NA NA NA NA NAA” A very strong cut. Key lyrics:

Breathe, ever so slight,
We couldn’t take away your God given right.
Leave it alone, heel and stay,
Roll over and shake and beg for the bone.
Leave it alone

Dig An angry & intelligent punk song sold to the masses in 1994 – perfection. Music & lyrics are very angry until about 1:15 into the song, when it turns into a happy ska romp (somewhat foreshadowing B.Y.O.B by System of a Down). The song kicks into its punk vibe after 20 seconds of ska celebration. Love this track. Key lyrics:

Rationalize values it’s so easy to succeed
Keeping your eyes on the prize success, success
Camped outside Laissez Faire
People understand me there
Don’t talk to me we’ll get along just fine

The Cause this very short song (1:38) harkens back to the days of the Desperate Bicycles – a song about their agenda and ideals. A nice slab of radio friendly punk (in 1994, that is). Key lyrics:

Isn’t for the money
Nor is it for the fun
It’s a plan, a scam, a diagram
It’s for the benefit of everyone
You gotta have a little respect
Subterranean ideals
Traditional neglect
Reflect on how it would make you feel

The cause- we’re just doing it for the cause

Don’t Call Me White a stunning slab of commentary on things that take place in the US. One of my favorite songs of all time – again, it amuses me greatly that so many people were singing along to this in 1994 (perhaps even some of the “sheep” Fat Mike calls out in this song). Snotty punk vocals, angry music, an emotional resonance laced and intertwined throughout making it a perfect track. Killer bass comes into focus towards the end. Stunning.

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white
Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

The connotations wearing my nerves thin
Could it be semantics generating the mess we’re in?
I understand that language breeds stereotype
But what’s the explanation for the malice, for the spite?

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white
Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

My Heart Is Yearning Finger picking guitar to start the song, place slowed waaaaay down from the previous gems. Very much a mood piece, the song has an appealing ska vibe throughout. A deeper album cut. The vocals seem to be done as a joke and are really, really funny (sounds like Fat Mike is pretending to be Johnny Depp pretending to be a Mariachi).

Perfect Government Warm toned guitar to start before launching into a fast paced and thrashy punk song. Key lyrics:

It’s all about the money
Political power is taken
Protecting the rich, denying the poor
Yeah, they love to watch the world from the White House
And I wonder…

How can they sleep at night?
How can they sleep at night?
How did the cat get so fat?
How did the cat get so fat?

The Brews lower tuned guitar to start the song, classic punk vocals over top. Full band kicks in and we are singing-a-long with an anthem making fun of Neo-Nazis. A deeper song masquerading as an ode to drinking.

Orthopedic, Dr. Martens good for
Waffle making, kicking through the shin
Reputation, gained through intimidation
Pacifism no longer tradition

The Quass has a thrashy metal feel to it, a mostly instrumental song. A perfect deeper album cut. The musicianship on this song is outstanding – it wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a metal album. Chanting the title towards the end, it segues directly into….

Dying Degree again more of a metal feel with this song. A lament about trying to make ends meet. Another deeper album cut, there isn’t a lot separating the verses from the chorus – though the mood is very effective.

Fleas we are back to a pop-punk anthem feeling with this song. Melodic guitars hum in the background while the vocals offer up a snotty punk veneer. Song is pointing out hypocrisy and features some well-timed instrumental changes. Chugging bass is really great on this song.

My mother had forbidden me
To waste away my life
I want you to have all the things I could never buy you
So don’t stop what I’d begun
You’re my one, my only son
Follow what I say not what I’ve done

Lori Meyers a nice storytelling vibe with this song. Emotion seeps out of Fat Mike’s voice as he sings about a childhood friend who may (or may not) have gotten involved with a less than honorable profession. It leads to a chorus that features chugging guitars in a perfectly executed way. The vocals are also laced with an anger that is haunting and effective. Key lyrics:

I know what degradation feels like
I felt it on the floor at the factory
Where I worked long before, I took control now I answer to me
The 50K I make this year will go anywhere I please

Jeff Wears Birkenstocks a song that is another deeper album cut, the music is punk-ish but veers dangerously close to classic rock. The chorus leaves that crossover behind and features a melodic classic rock harmony. The song is making fun of someone who wears Birkenstocks to punk shows.

Punk Guy a really funny song about the most punk guy the boys in NOFX had ever seen. A really great 1 minute slab of punk, made even better by all the references to the ancestors of punk.

Crazier than GG,
More PC than Ian.
Got colored teeth like Johnny,
Exudes a vicious disposition.

[Crazier than GG: GG Allin was in the Jabbers, the Scumfucs, Antiseen and the Murder Junkies.]
[More PC than Ian: Ian MacKaye, lead singer of Minor Threat. Began the Straight edge movement]
[Got colored teeth like Johhny: Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols]
[Exudes a vicious disposition: Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols]

Happy Guy a mixed message song, told in a storytelling way. Pop punk, the song is about a guy who found religion and found some sort of happiness though lost his free will in the process. Doesn’t feature a very strong chorus but the story will keep your attention. Key lyrics:

Don’t try to judge him, his theological ideas
His hopes may be false but his happiness is real
Don’t try to judge him, he’s just a man

Reeko slows the vibe way down, a reggae vibe with this song. The entire song is about the end of the party (both literally and metaphorically). Using a party as a metaphor for politics (at least that’s my take on it). Features a very warm guitar solo which is a rarity on this album. That’s all for the 1st 2 minutes. The last-minute segues into another pop punk anthem, with vocals laced with emotion. Key lyrics:

Leave this sinking ship, leave and not look back
The things we never tried to disallow
Have come back to haunt us now
With apple pie and chevrolet
We’ve come to see the end, we’ve all made this bed
Now we got nowhere to lay, dies and gentlemen
Try and understand

Scavenger Type finger picking to start the song, emotional vocals. Again features a storytelling sing-a-long. One of the strongest cuts on the album, positioned as the last song. It perfectly encapsulates everything this record is about whilst sounding like nothing else on this record. An acoustic ditty, just Fat Mike and his guitar. A very sad song – perfection. Key lyrics:

A crow, a scavenger type
California redemption, provides him with his rent
Room and board inside of, a fifth, of comfort
As the wind penetrates his bones
His mind keep focused
Tidal waves of sound catapulted
From his horn, wail like lovers

Out of all the punk revival albums from the early 90’s (for the masses, that is – it never REALLY went away) this is my favorite one. At 17 tracks, I think it could have been made a little tighter by removing 3 or 4 songs – however – it has stood the test of time. I come back to this record fairly often, thinking about growing up in a small house listening to my brother playing this record over and over again. Sometimes memories can fuel your love of a record, and I’d certainly say that is true with me for this record.

Join me next week as I discuss Station to Station by David Bowie.

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