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Fat Mike, unfiltered

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We cannot discuss punk rock -- past, present or future -- without talking about NOFX. The Californian quartet formed in 1983 and have been a guiding force in punk rock ever since. Unlike many of their peers, NOFX has managed to survive the pitfalls of aging and has remained relevant for nearly 30 years.

After building an underground fanbase through word-of-mouth and constant touring, NOFX finally got their big break in 1994 with the release of their beloved record Punk In Drublic. 1994 is cited as the year of punk revival. Along with Rancid, The Offspring and Green Day, NOFX helped revitalize the floundering punk rock scene with a wave of break-out records.

1994, ironically, was the last time that NOFX played a proper show in Indianapolis. Despite having released seven albums since Punk In Drublic and touring the globe countless times, Indianapolis hasn't made it on their tour itinerary in 18 years.

"Indianapolis just isn't one of the bigger cities in the world," says NOFX frontman "Fat" Mike Burkett when questioned about his band's absence from Indianapolis, "We don't even really tour the U.S. that much anyway."

Currently, Burkett and company are touring in support of their surprisingly excellent new album, Self Entitled. Unlike many other bands from the "Class of '94," NOFX's recent output has been praised by critics and fans alike.

Burkett is not oblivious to the failings and successes of his peers.

"Well, Offspring strayed from the path a long time ago," he says. "The new Pennywise record is awesome, even with the new singer. But their last few albums before it were bad. Rancid still pretty much sounds like Rancid but their older records were better"

Burkett's harshest criticisms, however, were directed by the undisputed kings of the '94 punk explosion; Green Day.

"I just saw the video for 'Kill The DJ' (Editor's note: The newest single from Green Day's upcoming triple-album experiment) and I don't understand that shit at all. There aren't even any good double-records out there, let alone any triple-records. This is lunacy," Burkett says.

In criticizing Green Day's recent endeavors, Burkett revealed a bit about his own song writing process.

"I write three albums worth of songs when I sit down to write an album, but I don't put every piece of shit song on the record. I whittle it down," says Burkett. "I try to get inspired by something different before working on an album. I don't want any bad songs on my records. I'm not happy until I like the whole record."

Burkett's high standards for songwriting have yielded an unbroken chain of strong records; Self Entitled is no exception. The thematic elements on the newest release aren't too different from those on previous records but the songs still seem fresh. Burkett writes about his love of illegal substances, kinky sex, scene politics, religion and, most famously, politics.

In the months building up to the 2004 election, Burkett launched his the currently inactive punkvoter.com website which, in collaboration with moveon.org, sought to rally often cynical or apathetic punks to help dethrone George W. Bush. While his efforts ultimately failed, the 2004 election cycle and President Bush himself became huge influences for Burkett.

"The Bush Administration set a fire under my ass," says Burkett, "It didn't really change my songwriting, it just made me more politically active. I just wanted to help get Bush out of office. He is the most ridiculous president in the history of presidents."

While Burkett is not involved with any voter initiatives for this upcoming election, he is confidant that Obama will remain in office.

"I'm not active this time around because I am [sure] that Romney's going to get destroyed. He has no platform whatsoever. His selling point is 'We've fucked this world so bad and Obama hasn't done enough to set it straight.' That's bullshit."

He'll spout plenty of political views during his group's return to Indy this Tuesday at Deluxe at Old National Centre.

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