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MUSIC : Caustic Rockers : Members of the punk band NOFX say their songs are honest. 'We're just trying to have a good time.'

November 21, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

These punk rockers, NOFX, are such wise guys they'd make the Bowery Boys seem like choir boys. The members of the quartet, not at all into rock etiquette, would be the kind of guys to paint a grease pencil mustache on Michael Jackson then give him Phil Collins' haircut. They're equal opportunity goofballs--they make fun of everybody with no redeeming social value whatsoever.

NOFX writes songs such as "New Boobs," "Brain Constipation" and "The Moron Brothers." The new album is called "Ribbed" and looks like a giant condom package. This probably isn't the "Fun, Fun, Fun" the Beach Boys had in mind. The members of NOFX go by first names only, which saves their parents those knowing looks of pity in the supermarket line.

Fat Mike is the singer, songwriter and bass player. Fat Mike, by the way, looks more like 6 o'clock than a blimp, but maybe it's that trick photography we've heard so much about. Then there are Eric, Erik and Steve, who play guitar, drums and guitar.

Never heard of NOFX? Maybe that's because they never stay in one place long enough for the wanted posters to go up at the post office.

"This tour is going pretty well," said Fat (and Happy) Mike in a recent phone interview. "We're frying up some eggs at a friend's house right now in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is our ninth tour--we've been in every state, I think, except the Dakotas. And we've done three European tours. We've had the same friends for seven or eight years, and it's just like visiting family."

There are no tricks on the NOFX tracks--it's all three chords and a cloud of dust, punk thrash-o-rama tunes as subtle as an Uzi pogo stick. They may look like the house band for the Big House, but they'll be playing that big room--the Anaconda Theatre--in Isla Vista.

"Our music is honest," Fat (and Honest) Mike said. "Real punk rock is honest music. We don't have any superior attitude. We're just trying to have a good time, and that's why people relate to us."

Then again, there was the audience in Germany that related in strange and interesting ways.

"We were in Frankfurt and this feminist group took offense to one of our songs. They started to throw bottles at us--full beer bottles. I threw one of the bottles back, and this woman's giant boyfriend got on stage, and there was this big fight . . .," Fat (and Tough) Mike said.

It's not the cops and bouncers or radio programmers who account for the lion's share of rock 'n' roll grief, but those highly contagious creative differences. Fat Mike may have found the cure.

"I live in San Francisco, another guy lives in Humboldt, and two guys live in Hollywood," Fat (and Geographical) Mike said. "We never practice, except when we tour because we live too far apart."

Punk rock has been around for more than a decade, and contrary to popular demand and/or perception, hasn't gone away.

"We all started when we were 16 years old hanging around in Hollywood at the Cathay de Grand and at Godzilla's," Fat (and Historical) Mike said. "Punk seems to be getting bigger than ever because it seems our crowd keeps getting younger. "

So what's next for NOFX--besides leaving in their wake a battered and bruised horde of slam dancers trying to figure out how to pronounce the band's name? Maybe a new type of music.

"We've got four albums out now, the last three on Epitaph Records," Fat (and Philosophical) Mike said. "Don't buy the first one--it's crummy and on another label. I guess we'll make more records and explore more styles of music. Actually, we're thinking of creating a really cheesy type of music--lounge core."

Kick back. Stay tuned.

* WHERE AND WHEN

NOFX, Section 8 and the Grim will be at the Anaconda Theatre, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 685-3112, Friday at 8 p.m., $10.

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