NOFX’s The War on Errorism hit the shelves May 2003, while Baghdad was still being shocked and awed. The band’s most focused album in nearly a decade took some of the most vicious shots on record at President George W. Bush and his policies – but it didn’t stop the war.
With Punkvoter, the political coalition he founded last year, NOFX frontman Fat Mike is hoping to make a statement with a real effect: the ousting of GB2 from the Oval Office. Punkvoter’s goal is to get a half million young voters to the polls through its tours, advertisements and a website complete with election news, political commentary from various punk figures and downloadable voter registration forms.
Fat Mike will bring NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Jello Biafra, Authority Zero and the rest of the Punkvoter show to the Thunderdome tonight looking for some of his half million.
Artsweek: People who buy tickets to the show get a slip saying they’ve made a political donation. Where’s this money going?
Fat Mike: We’re doing a lot of advertisements right now. Informational ads. We’ve got one about the Bush Clean Skies Initiative, which is actually a very misleading name. It actually lets corporations put more pollutants into the air than previous EPA standards. There’s one on Dick Cheney. Before the Iraqi war he said, “It’s now known that Iraq has nuclear weapons.” Six months later on the same TV show, “Meet the Press,” he says we were never sure they had nuclear weapons. We’re trying to show how they’ve been misleading the American public. We’ll also be giving out at the show 1,000 DVDs of a movie called “Uncovered,” about the war in Iraq.
Now that the presidential campaign is pretty much down to Kerry and Bush, will we see anything pro-Kerry from Punkvoter, or will you stick to anti-Bush?
I don’t think we’re gonna do much pro-Kerry. We’re not really picking a candidate for people to choose. We’re basically just informing them on what the Bush administration is doing and what they have been doing – things that the news is not reporting on. Our big issue right now is the Supreme Court. The Bush administration has taken 11 executive actions against reproductive rights. Four members of the Supreme Court have already said they would overturn Roe v. Wade, and the next president will get to appoint two to four new Supreme Court justices. If it’s Bush, Roe v. Wade will be overturned and abortion will be illegal in this country.
Should people who have seen NOFX before expect anything different from you guys at a Punkvoter show?
Not really. The difference is we’re showing a couple of movies between bands, and Jello Biafra is speaking for about 20 minutes. He pretty much sums up everything we’re trying to say. I don’t really say too much on stage. I don’t know why, but I’m not that comfortable doing it.
I heard a while back that you guys were planning on doing a show in New York City in September outside the Republican National Convention. Is that true?
It used to be true. We tried to book a show two months ago, but the Republicans have actually booked out every nightclub in New York City. Every decent-sized nightclub is booked out for the whole week. I think they did that purposely so there wouldn’t be any bands who could play New York.
Do you have any predictions about how the election will go?
I think it’s going be close. But I think the more information that gets out there about this war in Iraq, about the Supreme Court and how many jobs have been lost, I think we’re gonna do pretty good. I don’t think Bush’s chances look very good. In fact, his father had a higher approval rating at the same time when he was running and he lost for re-election. The only problem is Clinton was a better runner than Kerry.
What were you thinking when [Ralph] Nader’s name popped up in the race this year?
I got nauseous.
But don’t you think people might have learned their lesson last time?
People did. So he’s not gonna get 5 percent, or whatever he got last time, 3 percent, but he still may get a half a percent – and that would still be a lot of fucking people. By the way, I think he’s a big jerk for running again. The only reason I can see him running is based on ego. Because [Dennis] Kucinich and Al Sharpton – their issues were his issues. They already put that in the political debate. People have heard it already, and they don’t need to hear it again.
Some people say that low times for the nation are actually the best times to be a professional punk rocker because there’s so much inspiration out there. Is that true for you?
Punk rock is really united around this issue. We have over 200 bands on Punkvoter.com that are pissed and together. Normally it’s pretty tough to get people united around one issue, so that is one good thing. And it’s easier to write good punk songs.
Does NOFX have any plans beyond this tour?
We’re taking Punkvoter along on Warped Tour this summer. We’ll have a booth registering all the kids, and that will be going through all the swing states.
Anything else you want to say?
I want to add that I’m kind of sick of people calling us anti-American and saying we don’t support our troops. I actually think we are being more patriotic than most of America, because we’re not blindly following our government – we’re questioning our government and we’re trying to make this country better. I think we’re showing even more love of our country.