As the saying goes, you shouldn't meet (or in this case, talk to) your idols as it often ends in disappointment. Today however is not that day. With the upcoming appearance of NoFX at Australia's first ever Download Festival, it was inevitable that they would trek away from Melbourne to visit their plethora of devoted fans that inhabit the great state of Queensland.
Getting the chance to talk to one of my percussive heroes as he made his way to pick his kids up from rugby, Erik 'Smelly’ Sandin is a man of many words and a fantastic talent behind a drum kit. If I went back in time and told myself i'd be interviewing Smelly one day and that he'd be super chill and relaxed, I would of laughed at me. Growing up in the 90’s, my musical tastes were eclectic to say the least, but NoFX always held one of the top spots as they were fast, gritty and left a great memory every time i got to experience them live.
When asked if he knows the secret to career longevity, its simple “oh yeah, i know that for sure” he quips, “don’t expect anything and just let it roll, if it happens it happens”. Not what you’d expect from one of the most prolific punk bands of the last 30 years. But hey, if that's what got them this far, then i intend not to expect anything when it comes to my future endeavours. NoFX are known for their ability to keep it fresh with every show they play. From playing a collection of their greatest songs, to the infamous 'Half FX’ show where they played only half of each song, Sandin lets it be known that ‘ we just want to have a good time, and if other people dig it, that’s cool’.
Their recent foray into their own festival, Punk In Drublic, is gaining momentum. With a mix of great punk and craft beers, it's a winning combination with front man Fat Mike seeming to interrupt Bad Religion’s set every night with great skill. When asked about the likelihood of a down under leg, Sandin’s quick to answer 'Well, we’re taking it to the UK and Europe sometime soon so, yeah, i would love to see it touch down on Australian shores, that would be fun’.
The love the band has for Australia is unfathomable, with fans always coming out en masse to see their shows. Australian fans seem to connect with NoFX and throw every bit of energy into attending their gigs. With Download Festival being such a big event, bands certainly need their down time. “It's hard to know where or when the downtime will be on tour, but with Australia, it never feels like work. So essentially, it’s all downtime”, Sandin jokes. Loving not only Brisbane but also the Gold Coast, the band certainly has a love affair with the Sunshine State.
Always intriguing is the process in which bands choose support acts. When asked if there are any bands that they would love to play with Sandin boasts "right now we got some shows coming up with The Bronx that i’m really excited about. That band is exactly what punk was in the 90’s and they play with everything they got”. NoFX have seen some great stages over the years and shared them with a lot of talented bands, yet somehow, even if you had one of the biggest bands in the world that could sell out a stadium, you’d STILL leave that show with nothing but memories of how NoFX played. So in order to share a stage with them, you gotta be pretty damn special.
As we all await a new album to drop from the fathers of modern punk, Sandin says "I know Mike has songs written, it's just a matter of actually getting the time to record something", which is understandable with their hectic touring schedule of present. So how does a NoFX album come about i hear you ask? "Well, Mike writes everything, we just show up at the studio and he tells us what to do", and the rest is history, leaving it up to the fans to respond to their latest offering. In the digital age it's refreshing to know that Smelly still keeps it real in regards to the support of musicians "if i see a friends band has a new album, or is touring again, i'll make sure i buy that CD, buy a ticket to the show, give my support in any way that i can". The dude certainly knows how to not only deliver stand out punk tunes but also how to be a fan of the music that he helped spawn some 35 odd years ago.
So, if you’re sitting on the fence, wondering whether you should drop eighty bucks to see NoFX and one hell of a line up, then I say do it. You’ll never regret it and the show that you witness will leave you wanting to see them again and again. So take Smelly’s advice, expect nothing and just roll with it. If it happens, it happens.
NoFX play Riverstage on Thursday March 22 with Hot Water Music, Bad Cop/Bad Cop & Dad Religion
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney on Friday March 23
Download Festival, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne on Saturday March 24
Brisbane tickets available through http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/nofx-brisbane-22-03-2018/event/130053798D923F39
Sydney tickets available through http://m.ticketek.com.au/events/NOFX18/venues/HOR/performances/EHOR2018687
Download Festival tickets available through downloadfestival.com.au