Review: Dont Read Nofxs New Autobiography While Youre Eating
This book should come with a complimentary barfbag
NOFX photo by Emily Shur
NOFXs new autobiography begins and ends with stories about drinking piss. Its an apt framing structure for a book that overflows with tales of hepatitis shit, butt plug beer bongs, and sexual depravity. Many readers are likely to barf and give up after the first few pages of NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories . But if you manage to hang in, youll find the story of a deranged young punk band that played barely listenable music to miniscule audiences before refining their sound and stage banter. Once the band found its voice, NOFX helped define the sound of the nineties punk explosion , and became a stalwart touring act that continues to this day.
NOFX leader Fat Mike has cited Mötley Crüe bio The Dirt as an inspiration for his bands tale . That sets a crazy high standard: The Dirt is a rock masterpiece that landed atop my list of rocks best books ever. Both books are unflinching looks at hard rock lives of excess. The difference is that where The Dirt is absurd and hilarious , Hepatitis Bathtub contains some stories that are so disturbing , you might wish you could un-read them.
The cumbersome title and garish cover art of NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories dont do it any favors. If the band were aiming for classic rock book territory, I wouldve chosen simpler and more memorable branding. However, it is an accurate representation of the books contents.
An Excerpt From Nofx: The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories By Nofx And Jeff Alulis
My parents took me to a porno movie when I was four years old. It was the early 70s, and porn still played in decent-sized theaters. One sunny California afternoon, we walked into such a theater on Ventura Boulevard near the Topanga Bowl bowling alley. There was a tractor on the screen, and then there was some sort of sex act I was way too young to understand.
I guess my parents started to feel awkward because we left just as it was getting interesting. We never spoke about it again. Ill never know why they thought it was a good idea to take me there. But its one of the only memories I have from when my parents were still married.
My dad was a traveling shoe salesman who was on the road most of the year, so there was barely any difference between how often I saw him before and after my parents split up. He moved into an adults-only apartment building, and I stayed with him every other weekend, but I couldnt leave the apartment. He played volleyball, drank, and smoked pot with his buddies by the pool, and I sat inside and watched seaweed creatures on Night Gallery.
I spent most of my childhood at my mothers apartment in Beverly Hills. In the interest of accuracy, I should point out that theres Beverly Hills which is full of mega-mansions and European sports cars and theres the Flats of Beverly Hills, a neighborhood south of Wilshire Boulevard that housed all the people who cleaned the mega-mansions and parked the European sports cars.
What Was And Is Difficult Is How Is My Father Going To React When He Reads Iti’m Afraid It’s Really Really Really Going To Hurt Him And That Will Be Awkward And Weird
Your stuff in particular is very confessional, very open. Was that difficult for you?
I don’t know if difficult is the word, because I’d come to terms with a lot of my past already. I’m in recovery for drugs and alcohol, and that has a lot to do with it. Drug and alcohol addiction isn’t necessarily the drugs, it’s the damage in the past and how you deal with it. So I’d already come to terms with a bunch of it. What was and is difficult is how is my father going to react when he reads it. He was not the most pleasant person to be around when I was a child, but we’re really tight now and he’s completely changed as a human being, and he’s a super, super-sensitive man, and he was masking his sensitivity with anger. So that’s what my concern is: I’m afraid it’s really, really, really going to hurt him and that will be awkward and weird, and I don’t want him to have to be carrying that around. So that was the hard part for me if I say this stuff, it could hurt my dad.
One of the most powerful parts in the book was when you talk about how you’ve never told your dad you love him.
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Yeah We Approached This Book With Complete Honesty No One Was Allowed To Fingerbang It If You Know What I Mean
The other really powerful part was when El Hefe was talking about Mike’s partying and about how he has a problem. That was a powerful thing to put in print about a bandmate and a friend.
Yeah, we approached this book with complete honesty. No one was allowed to fingerbang it, if you know what I mean. No one was allowed to go in there and go, I don’t like this, take it out. And yeah, you know Mike has a problem. He does. And we all see it. And when it affects us, there’s a problem. And then he goes, Fuck, dude, I’m good. Yeah, well, that’s called denial, because you’re affecting everybody else.
The stuff in there about those guys being high on-stage and how that made you feel was very powerful. Also the story about you sitting in your bunk listening to the guys in the band talk about how proud they were of you , but you felt sad because you couldn’t be down there hanging out with them partying. These are very open, honest confessionals for a crazy rock book.
We didn’t want a fluff piece a lot of bands are just all about fluff and image. No, this is who we are, we have fucking feelings and there’s depth to it. I remember me laying in the bunk like it was yesterday. That was such a weird fucking feeling. Hearing them talking about how happy they were and how proud they were and how much they loved me, but I had to hide from them because of what was going on. It was so fucking weird. It was so weird.
No One Was Allowed To Fingerbang Itthe Brutal Truth Behind Nofxs Tell
NOFX have been through a lot during their long history as a band. Like, really: a lot. Their new book, The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories, details it all and does so in true, painfully honest NOFX fashion. Each chapter is straight from the mouth of one member as they go through the band’s history, focusing far more on the behind-the-scenes struggles and triumphs of their individual lives than on band trivia and tidbits. The band held nothing back to writer/chronicler Jeff Alulis: drug addiction, sexual assaults, deaths , difficult family lives, pee drinking it’s all detailed with an at-times uncomfortable amount of bluntness. We caught up with drummer Erik Smelly Sandin, who gives some of the most candid confessions in the book, to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of Hepatitis Bathtub.
What was it like doing something a bit different, creatively? You’re an artist, you make music, but what was this like?
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Nofx: The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories By Nofx And Jeff Alulis
One of my favorite bands growing up was NOFX, and so naturally I was excited when I heard about their upcoming autobiography NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories written by the band and Jeff Alulis . When I found out that they agreed to do an interview during SXSW, the fan boy in me was ecstatic. The book title along with the cover art is typical NOFX funny, unapologetic and punk as fuck. I went in expecting a light hearted interview, but that was not the case.
Before the interview started, Fat Mike asked me what I knew about the book. I told him what I knew, which was that its a tell-all autobiography about the band and their iconic and lengthy career. He then asked me if I had read an excerpt. To be honest, I didnt even know there was one out. Basically Fat Mike had called me out on how little I actually knew about this book. I didnt do my homework, and he was right. Luckily though, what ensued was a million times better than any question I could have come up with. He then began to tell me a story about the first time he tasted his wifes pee. We started recording somewhere around this point, but this was a great example of the type of honesty I got from Fat Mike and the brutal honesty we can expect in this book.
People will look at us differently from now on.
When You’re In A Blackout For Almost A Decade It’s Hard To Recall
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember shit from 20 years ago very well.
It was really hard. There was a lot of stuff I couldn’t remember. Mike would say, Smelly, this one time, did this, and the guy would ask me, What’s your take on this story? I’d be like, Fuck, I’ve got no fucking clue, I don’t even remember that. The stories are just the tip of the iceberg because every fucking night and every day was a crazy adventure, and these are just a couple that I remember. When you’re in a blackout for almost a decade, it’s hard to recall.
Tell me about the process of actually writing it. Is it correct that no one saw the other person’s parts until it was off to the printer?
Yeah, pretty much. The process was Jeff would sit down with a bunch of questions, and we’d just start talking and talking and talking and talking. He did the same thing with everybody. He’d say, Fat Mike told this story, what do you remember of it? That was the only kind of cross-reference that I had to the other people’s stories. I didn’t read it until it was actually in the first form of print, in the editing phase, where it was a 400- or 500-page book at that stage.
Some of the parts where you guys are admitting things to each other, like when you took money out of the band fund to go score, these are pretty intense things to admit. What was it like when you guys all met up after? Was it awkward?
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Nofx: The Hepatitis Bathtub And Other Stories By Nofx With Jeff Alulis
The Hepatitis BathtubJohn Paul
Any book that begins with the sentence, The first time I drank piss I was on a fire escape overlooking Los Angeles is bound to elicit something of a visceral response from the reader. Those familiar with Fat Mike Burkett, to whom said sentence is attributed, and company in the seminal California punk band NOFX would expect nothing less.
Unsuspecting readers but really, how many could there be picking up a title like NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories? might find this opening line a bit jarring, but it ultimately serves to set the tone for the remainder of the book. With each band member given the chance to more or less introduce themselves to the audience with a character-defining narrative or anecdote, the band is off and running, having established their respective roles in what essentially amounts to a parodic treatment of the formula established by VH1s Behind the Music.
Theyve also shown themselves to be a fun-loving, even sensitive family of misfits who would do nearly anything for one another. In this, Hepatitis Bathtub manages to toe the impossibly fine line between gross-out humor and earnest reminiscence, making for a wildly enjoyable, disgusting, hilarious ride told with equal parts hubris and self-effacement. This approach lends the band a surprisingly relatable, humanistic feel that makes the book more than just a collection of stories rooted in juvenile humor. For that we can all be thankful.