NOFX was one of the very first punk bands that I ever heard as a kid and I quickly became obsessed with them. However, these guys aren’t big on interviews so it really limited their
NOFX was one of the very first punk bands that I ever heard as a kid and I quickly became obsessed with them. However, these guys aren’t big on interviews so it really limited their fans access to their stories and backgrounds, especially in the 90’s and early 2000’s. This all changed when they published their autobiography in 2016. As a lifelong fan, I was dying to get my hands on a copy to thoroughly digest it. It was slow moving in the beginning as the story unfolded, but halfway through the paced quickened and I couldn’t put it down.
I loved that this book was written from each individual viewpoint, including past members, and that the stories weren’t always aligned with everyone else’s memories. There were sections where bandmates went back and added additional information during the editing process to further certain narratives. A particular story about an ex-girlfriend of Melvin’s sticks out the most in my mind. I cannot imagine how hard it would have been to share and read that information for the first time (pg. 87).
While I enjoyed reading all of the shenanigans that happened when the crew toured around in their shitty van, it was the evolution and the growth of the band that captivated me the most.
Erik “Smelly” Sandin – I was not his biggest fan in the beginning, because I found his antics disgusting and immature. There is no way that I could have tolerated him at one of my house parties when he was a teenager/early adult. As his story progressed though, I became invested in his struggle with addiction. As with most junkies, it got dark, and then he finally hit rock bottom (pg. 218). Nothing made me happier than reading about his decision to go to rehab and get clean. This is when his story took an inspirational turn. Not only did he finish rehab, he made the necessary life changes to make sure that relapse wasn’t an option. The most mark remarkable thing about the man was his ability to take those negative experiences to create a productive and safe life for someone else. By the end of the book, I was seriously cheering for this guy.
Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta – El Hefe is truly the man! I knew that he was the lead guitarist and played trumpet, but I had no idea of his accomplished background as a musician. He was the only one with actual training in the arts due to him taking every music class offered at his local community college. It makes total sense that NOFX’s musical style didn’t really mature until his talent and style became part of the process. The band’s stage presence would also be non-existent without Hefe’s imitations, humor, and banter with Mike. The hardest part to read in his story was learning about his failure in the nightclub business and what it did to him personally (pg. 259.) Nothing has changed for me throughout the book, I adore El Hefe.
Eric Melvin – Eric Melvin is a shy man, so I knew the least about him. As the co-founder of NOFX, it took dedication and moxie to keep the spirit of the band going after so many setbacks and lineup changes. From the start, he was the glue that held the band together and they would not be the same without his signature “Mell Yell.” Most of the book was filled with hard, honest truths, but there was something about Melvin’s story that tugged the most at my emotions. Different portions of his story were heartbreaking to read, but I admire the man’s strength (pg. 14, 312.) He has overcome and dealt with so much and still comes across as a kind, sensitive, well-adjusted person.
Fat Mike – At the start of the book, Mike was my favorite NOFX member. I always loved his behavior and DIY attitude. He was one of the ones that promoted NOFX in the early days by working hard and remaining relatively sober. My favorite part of the book is when they met with major record executives, heard their offer, and still decided to remain independent (pg. 243.) For me, I feel like that is what has allowed them to part of the punk rock movement for so long. As he told his story, it almost seemed like he was more focused on shock value than he was the actual music and performing.
The book was filled with drugs, sex, violence, debauchery, and most importantly, punk rock. While it was not nearly as shocking as I was expecting, it was definitely filled with cringe worthy moments. It’ll get you through an airport layover at the very least.