Making music has never been about making money for Mike Burkett, a.k.a. Fat Mike, the lead singer of punk band NOFX. Instead, it's about making a statement.
For three decades, angst-ridden teenagers have been moshing to the fast-paced punk anthems of Fat Mike and his bandmates. Well, except maybe recently. Fat Mike admits NOFX isn't as popular among young listeners as it once was.
That's part of the reason he's put together Punk in Drublic, a traveling beer and music festival stopping at Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth on Sunday, May 6. NOFX, which released the album Punk in Drublic in 1994, headlines the daylong event that also includes sets from Bad Religion, the Interrupters, Mad Caddies, the Last Gang and more. Consider the lineup a sampling from Fat Mike's personal playlist.
"These are the bands I like," he says. "I tell kids, 'These are great bands you should be listening to.'"
We talked to Fat Mike about partying, getting sober and the political issues in NOFX's songs.
Considering Fat Mike's public battles with addiction, it might seem odd he's hosting a beer festival. It's not, he says.
Punk in Drublic started as a six-show West Coast tour in 2017, the same year NOFX teamed up with California's Stone Brewing to release an original beer by the same name. Punk in Drublic, a hoppy lager, will be served at the Fort Worth festival.
Fat Mike says he didn't try hard drugs until he was 31 years old, and he's candid about the stint during which he became addicted to pain killers.
"I learned a lot. I learned that I'm not invincible and you gotta keep yourself in check," he says. "What people really don't understand is there's a lot of space between being an addict and being sober, like how most people are ... it doesn't have to be so black and white, 'cause life isn't black and white."
Because of his experience, Fat Mike wants to destigmatize drug use so more addicts will feel comfortable leaning on their support networks for help. When he hit 87 days sober on tour, Fat Mike heard from "hundreds and hundreds of people" who shared their own battles with drugs and alcohol.
But, he's not opposed to having a couple drinks.
"I like to party, but there's a time and a place," he says.
With the imminent end of Vans Warped Tour, what's the fate of punk rock music?
According to Fat Mike, there's nothing to worry about.
"Punk rock is in a great state. It always has been, you just need to go to the right clubs," he says. "It got popular in the '90s, but there's still the same punk clubs and same drunk, bad musicians playing great songs."
Fat Mike was an outspoken critic of former President George W. Bush while he was in office, even mobilizing voters through an initiative called Punkvoter.com to try to prevent his reelection. In 2016, he told the Dallas Observer that having Donald Trump as president might be better than Bush. Now that hypotheticals are off the table, however, he believes things have gotten worse for Americans.
"He's very stupid, incredibly narcissistic," says Fat Mike of President Trump. "He enjoys hurting people."
And Mike Pence as the alternative?
"At least he's not a total [expletive] insane person," he says.
What's next for Fat Mike?
Even with more than a dozen NOFX albums, a recent book entitled NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories, and documentary about the label he founded called A Fat Wreck, Fat Mike isn't resting on his laurels. Later this year, he'll release an album under his alter-ego, Cokie the Clown, which was produced by Nine Inch Nails' Danny Lohner and includes cameos from legendary Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Fat Mike also has a rock musical he hopes to open on Broadway this year, Home Street Home, that he calls "my life's work."
Until then, he'll be rocking out, tipping back a few and getting punk in drublic with fans nationwide.
May 6 from noon to 10 p.m. at Panther Island Pavilion, 395 Purcey St., Fort Worth. $39.50-$99.50. More deets.