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Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX’s Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: ‘We’re in a Great Place’ (Exclusive)

Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX's Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: 'We're in a Great Place
Fat Mike of NOFX with an inset of Blink 182.Getty Images (2)

After more than 40 years, the end of NOFX is in sight. The long-running punk band announced the last slate of shows of its Final Tour, ensuring the group behind songs like “Linoleum” and “Bob” will go out on a high note – even though frontman Fat Mike isn’t at the moment.

“I’m sober right now,” Fat Mike, 56, tells Us Weekly exclusively, explaining that he’s currently not drinking or using drugs. “I do that every six months. I’ll take a few months off. And I love being sober right now.”

As the man behind songs like “Drugs Are Good,” “I am an Alcoholic,” and “Everything in Moderation (Especially Moderation),” sobriety would be the one strange bedfellow for the sex-positive and openly queer Fat Mike. However, since the mid-2010s, NOFX’s bassist, vocalist, songwriter and mouthpiece found a healthy balance between sobriety and partying. It’s a balance he’s carrying into 2024 when the band takes its final bow in Denver, New York (tickets on sale now), and their hometown of Los Angeles.

“I’ve been sober for over a month. I’m losing weight and I’m bike riding 10-15 miles a day,” he tells Us. Fat Mike recently relocated to Las Vegas, the site of The Punk Rock Museum, an extensive collection of historical items and cultural memorabilia that provides visitors with a unique, hands-on experience. When he’s not working on the museum, helping to run the beloved independent music label Fat Wreck Chords, or working with Codefendants (his new “crime wave” side-project), Fat Mike says he’s keeping busy by staying away from the “sin” of Sin City. He lives 20 minutes from the Strip in a “quiet Mormon neighborhood” and spends his time hiking, biking, golfing, and taking in a Vegas show like The Beatles Love by Cirque Soleil (which he says he’s seen eight times).

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“I’m doing all kinds of stuff that, when you’re hungover or drinking, you don’t want to do. I woke up at seven today and exercised on my trampoline, and then I went for a half-hour walk with my lady,” he tells Us. “So I love sober time.”

“But then when I go back to drinking and using, those times are great too,” he adds. “That’s when you really bond with people. That’s when you make the best bad decisions of your life. You tend not to make bad decisions when you’re sober. If you don’t have things you regret, then what the f—k?”

Regrets? Fat Mike has had a few after spending four decades on the road with NOFX (Eric Melvin, Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta, and Erik “Smelly” Sandin). While speaking with Spin in 2022, Fat Mikes said “Punk Rock Cliché” – a song from NOFX’s 2022 album, Double Album – was originally meant for Blink-182.

Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX's Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: 'We're in a Great Place
Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge, and Travis Barker of Blink 182 wave to the crowd after a concert at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego on June 20, 2023.. ZUMAPRESS/MEGA

He wrote the song with Matt Skiba when the Alkaline Trio frontman joined Blink-182 in 2015, replacing the outgoing Tom DeLonge. From there, everything seemed good. Travis Barker even spoke with NME about how he was excited for “Punk Rock Cliché” to come out, but the track was never released as a single and was left off the band’s 2016 album, California.

Fat Mike stressed to Spin that he wasn’t mad, saying that he was going to ghostwrite the song and be done with it. However, he noted that the timing might have been odd, with Skiba joining as DeLonge was leaving. “I could see how someone saying ‘Oh, you had to get Fat Mike to write a song for you” would be something they didn’t want to come out,” he said.

What might have been a last-minute business decision (representatives for Blink-182 didn’t immediately respond to Us’ request for comment) led to some confusion on Fat Mike’s end, but he tells Us that things are all good between him and the band.

“I went to see them [Blink-182] the other night. They were all so friendly and I’m just happy that we’re all friends,” Fat Mike tells Us. “I didn’t start talking about that [song] to put a wedge between our friendship. I just wanted to — NOFX did that song because that song had to come out. If they didn’t want to put it out, I was going. So I figured I’d tell the story, but there was no ill will. But, it was great to see all those guys. They’re all good dudes.”

Though Fat Mike declared Blink-182 ’s version superior, NOFX’s “Punk Rock Cliché” is the perfect example of why the band has endured for forty years, displaying musical elements found throughout the band’s oeuvre. It eschews choruses for recurring lyrical themes (as heard in “Bob,” “Linoleum” and practically every other NOFX song). There’s the signature Fat Mike bassline, a vibrant sound that powers other tracks like “The Idiots Are Taking Over,” “The Desperation’s Gone” and “Whoops, I OD’d.” Sandlin’s drumming is as intense as when the band dropped Ribbed in 1991. Melvin and Hefe’s guitars surge like skateboards on fire, harkening back to the work that made Punk In Drublic a modern classic.

While Fat Mike has reaffirmed his friendship with Barker, DeLonge, and Mark Hoppus, there remains some unresolved misery business between him and Hayley Williams. In January, Williams, 34, spoke with Billboard and claimed that Fat Mike made a crude joke about her when Paramore was on the Warped Tour in the late 2000s.

While appearing at the “Punk Rock MBA Podcast” in April, Mike noted that he was obviously making a joke – and one fifteen years ago — but admitted that his comment was “sexist” and “a s—ty thing for me to say.” Fat Mike also said he contacted Williams’s management to apologize to her personally, and “she would not take my call.” (A representative for Hayley Williams did not immediately respond to Us’ request for comment.)

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Though NOFX now has an expiration date – the final show is October 6 at Los Angeles’s Berth 46 – it’s not as if the band is dying and Fat Mike needs to make amends with everyone. “In punk rock, you don’t really have enemies,” Fat Mike explains to Us when asked whether anyone has come out of the woodwork to bury longstanding grudges now that NOFX will be no more.

Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX's Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: 'We're in a Great Place
Erik Sandin, Fat Mike and Eric Melvin of NOFX perform at Irving Plaza on April 29, 2016 in New York City. Taylor Hill/Getty Images

“We’ve all been doing this together for so long, so maybe you lose touch with people,” he reflects. “But what’s happening is everyone wants to come to the last show and we just put the tickets on sale and they’re going crazy, as they would, and we’re charging more. We’re charging a lot of money for the first time ever, but no one’s really complaining about it ‘cause the last show.”

While Mike will always have that sardonic streak that has made him one of punk’s greatest frontmen, he tells Us that the first run of farewell gigs has left him feeling emotional. “You’re saying goodbye to the people you’ve known for so long. But you know what feels so good is that, and why it’s so emotional, is because it’s real,” he says. “Bands do ‘farewell tours’ all the time, and that’s not what this is. That will be the last time we play.”

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So, how is Fat Mike feeling now that the final dates have been revealed? “My mood’s really good,” he says before quickly adding, “It’s such a weird feeling. No one gets to go through this. Nobody gets to say goodbye and thank you. It’s kind of like being there for your wake, and I feel so privileged and honored to be able to say goodbye to fans who have been supporting us for so many years.”

However, Fat Mike laughs at the thought of NOFX throwing its own memorial: “And we’re charging for flowers. Charging for booze and flowers at our own wake.”

Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX's Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: 'We're in a Great Place
El Hefe, Fat Mike, Erik Sandin and Eric Melvin of NOFX. Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW

There’s a lot to plan in the next 11 months or so. Fat Mike hasn’t decided on what will be the last song NOFX ever plays (“I can’t answer that,” he says), but he does share that the final show will see the band play a new song that no one’s ever heard, and no one will ever hear it until their last show.

“I’ve written a song that is very important to me, and it’s extremely heartfelt,” he shares while getting slightly choked up while thinking about it. “It’s in me. I’ve been working on it for a while. I don’t know if I can play it without getting too emotional. And we’re only going to play it once, and it’s going to be at our last show.”

Before that happens, there will be plenty of new NOFX music for fans to hear. “I just finished the artwork for Half Album,” says Fat Mike, the final songs from the Single Album and Double Album recording sessions.

From there, NOFX has “an album that we’re not finished with,” says Fat Mike. He noted that there are about 15 songs, with about 30 more that are unfinished. “I don’t know – I don’t think I’ll be recording more songs with [NOFX]. I’ll just be finishing the songs.”

Punk Icon Fat Mike on NOFX's Last Tour and Clearing the Air with Blink-182: 'We're in a Great Place
Fat Mike and Eric Melvin of NOFX perform onstage during the Punk in Drublic Festival on May 14, 2019 in Madrid. Mariano Regidor/Redferns

Recording with NOFX is still fun for Fat Mike. Playing live, at one point, was not. “I was needing to get loaded before I went on stage in order to have a good time,” he explains. “And we couldn’t do tours [that were] more than 12 shows because I was just punishing my body and I don’t want to live that way. I did not want to go on stage every night. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to play! I don’t want to play! I don’t want to play! Let’s drink some more.’ And I don’t want to live that way.”

“These last shows are different because it’s really exciting to just say goodbye,” he says. “‘Oh s—t, this is the last time we’re ever playing Portland, Oregon. We’ve had so many experiences here.’ And it’s like, ‘I don’t have to do this again, so I’m going to have a great time.’ And we are, we’ve been having a great time at these shows, and that’s how I f—king want to go out.”

Since realizing it was time to end NOFX, Fat Mike has been “way more fun to be around than I have in the past few years.” He now approaches these gigs with excitement rather than dread.

While NOFX may be hanging it up, Fat Mike and the group aren’t heading to the punk rock retirement community detailed in “Mattersville.” In December 2022, Fat Wreck Chords announced the creation of the Bottles To The Ground Records imprint, a label curated and owned mostly by the members of NOFX. Eric Melvin has launched his Melvinator project, molding together punk, EDM, hip-hop and funk. El Hefe appeared in the Mayans M.C. series, and Smelly launched his Pickle Stix surf and skateboard line.

Plus, there’s much more NOFX left to go. Half Album will complete the trifecta, and there’s still the matter of that final LP. And there are the final shows, which have been grand in helping the four members secure their financial futures. The Punk In Drublic festivals have taken place at venues allowing the band to pocket their profits without worrying about things like merch cuts.

“That’s why [breaking up] is great,” says Fat Mike at the end of the conversation. He needs to run, as he’s due to give Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion – an early believer in NOFX, as he produced their debut LP and released the band’s first seven albums on his Epitaph Records — a guided tour of the Punk Rock Museum. “Because frankly, during COVID was the first time we ever had words because we couldn’t play and money was an issue,” he notes.

“We had some arguments,” says Fat Mike. “We never had arguments before. ‘What are we going to do about money now?’ And now, doing this last tour, our crowds are bigger than ever and money is not an issue anymore. And we’re in a great place.”

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