Words By Nowak


The first thing Fat Mike said to me was something about pissing out his asshole. He had the shits. Had a cold, too; sounded like crap. I could sympathize, because my own sinuses have been manufacturing mucus with the unbridled enthusiasm and tenacity of a groupie in 1978 trying to show a jaded David Lee Roth something he’d never seen before. I told him I’d make it quick in case he needed to hit the shitter, and we were off.

Mike didn’t do interviews for a long time. He told me they had just gotten boring and lame, like the interviewer always would just hear what they wanted to hear, or had his or her own agenda, and would mold the responses to fit. Meanwhile, I was actually given an agenda beforehand – the big cheese, Mr. Editor Migdol, wanted me to ask some “fucked-up” questions to kind of mess with Mike a bit, see how Fat Mike would react. I told Mike about this, and he had a chuckle and said, “Okay, it could go badly, but go ahead…” I think he was relieved when I told him I had scrapped the idea, because 1) he probably wasn’t in the mood to get fucked with, what with the cold and it being 10am, and 2) it’s just not my style, so coming up with questions like that is never easy. He mentioned how irritating it was when an interviewer asked shit like what his favorite tree is. “I could just finish the interview right there,” he said. Well, I was glad I didn’t go that route, because I have a deadline and a page to fill, and a hang-up would kinda screw the pooch.

We talked about the origins of, and the success of the campaign even in the face of Bush ultimately winning the 2004 election. “We were very effective. But so were the homophobic church groups. They got more people than we did. I don’t blame Republicans as much as I blame Christians.”

Another little bone of contention we discussed was Propagandhi, regarding a song on their recent album Potemkin City Limits put out by Mike’s record label, Fat Wreck Chords. They talk a little shit and kind of unfairly portray Mike in a bad light, thrown in with the Warped Tour and other things that have homogenized and marginalized the culture of punk rock these days. “I was pretty offended by it. I’m an activist, and just because we don’t see eye to eye, I don’t think they should be picking on me. I’m their ally. A lot of people questioned why I put out the record still. [Very classy move, if you ask me. –Nowak] You know, they have their opinion, and I have a new record coming out, and I got some lyrics on there, too. Maybe I’m not as nice as they were.”

My questions moved to the shitty music that’s out there today. “All these new emo/punk/hardcore bands… I think they all fucking suck. I used to play poker with Avenged Sevenfold, who are one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard. Then I found out they’re Bush supporters and Republicans, so now I can’t even play poker with them. I can play poker or have some beers with a band I don’t like, but not when they’re Bush supporters.” I agreed that it was crazy that any kind of artist could support the Bush regime. “They’re from Orange County, and not educated, and that’s a bad combination. You end up taking political value from your parents. If you never make it to college and hear other ideas or belief systems, you end up following what your parents tell you. And when you’re in Orange County, you’re a Republican.”

Talk turned to the blind patriotism of country musicians like Toby Keith, and how they’re so proud of something they had no control over: being born in the United States of America. “It always bothers me when people have pride in something they have nothing the fuck to do with. You have no choice in the matter of where you were born. You’re not really allowed to have pride in your country, or your race, or how many fingers you have – you’re born with all that. Be proud of the things you’ve accomplished.”

We seemed to be having a decent dialogue going back and forth, and things were pretty cool. I thought about Migdol’s agenda of silliness, and decided to go ahead and give it a shot before it was time to get off the phone. I told Mike that I had a really great idea recently, and since he runs a record label, I wanted to see what he thought. Silence. I decided to go ahead and keep talking before he had a chance to say no thanks, so I laid it on him: you get David Hasselhoff to do an album of Neil Diamond covers, and you call it A Diamond in the ‘Hoff! Dude, that shit is gold. I figured as a member of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, he had to at least think it would be funny. He replied dryly, “Yeah, that’s pretty bad. And A Diamond in the ‘Hoff isn’t that rad either.”

I’m pretty sure he’s gonna go back to not doing interviews, and I feel like a douchebag.

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