“We do things so fucken half-assed, just put so little effort into things it’s amazing we’ve gotten this far”, says Erik (aka Smelly) drummer for punk legends NoFx. After 35 years, still independent and still scene favourites, half-assed is working out ok.
NoFx are headed to Australia for limited headline shows and as a random punk addition to a metal festival, Download. Erik says, “I don’t know how we got on it but the times in the past when we’ve played metal festivals it’s gone over really well. We are the ones that stand out, we don’t sound like the other guys, we don’t look like the other guys, I mean Jesus Christ we’ve got a fat cross-dressing singer as opposed to all these fucking tough guys. So we play reggae and sing about shit and lighten up the mood and it goes over very well. I actually look forward to it because it’s a lot different of a vibe to what we’re used to.”
Before the festival it’s the Brisbane Riverstage headline show and I asked if they rehearse.
“We don’t even know what we’re going to play until a half hour before the show. It all has to do with the moods we’re in. Sometimes we’ll play all old songs, sometimes we play songs super slow, sometimes all the hits. This one time in Texas where we only played half of every song that was HalfFx. We don’t ever get together and just rehearse when we’re not on tour. Everyone’s doing their own thing. We show up to wherever we’re flying into the day before the show and we’ll get a rehearsal room and play just to make sure the equipment works and then, to be honest with you, the first 2 or 3 shows are our rehearsals.”
The chances of Brisbane being a polished performance are pretty slim but that’s not what people are there for, Smelly says.
“There’s nothing serious about us, it’s honest. At a show we’ll play songs, sometimes fuck up, we have good nights and bad nights, you never know what you’re going to get, it’s honest and we have fun. It’s fun whether it’s good or bad and that’s what people love.”
So without the hassle of rehearsals, what does a punk legend do in between tours?
“There’s been times in the past where I’d get off tour and I’m at home just sitting on my ass. It gets depressing sometimes. I had a therapist tell me once when you come off tour and you don’t do anything you’re going through retirement depression. So I surf a lot, I race motorcycles a lot and I opened a boxing gym and it gets me out and it’s fucking great. Last night I was training a bunch of 13 14 year olds. I was holding the mitts for them and showing them combos. That’s really satisfying for me, I’m there everyday.”
Clearly not everything in life is half-assed, and neither is the brutal honesty and commitment to staying independent that keeps people loyal to NoFx. Erik says, “one thing we’ve never done is played or written music to become popular. If you morph into what’s in then that’s sell out bullshit, just do what you do you know? You’ve just gotta play what you want to play.”
Prepare yourself for NoFx, playing what they want in whatever style they feel like playing it at the Riverstage, 22 March. The experience is always worth it, always epic, even when they ‘suck live’. Get your tickets for this ‘bonding of misfits’ here, and I’ll see you there!