Fat Mike is way more responsible than you think he is. He's like that guy who got you high every day before math class, yet mysteriously aced the final you failed, neglecting to inform you that he was hitting the books while you hit the snack cakes. Most people think of him as a mohawk-wearing, pill-popping BDSM enthusiast who can't always remember the words to NOFX's deep catalog of infectious pop-punk. He'd rather you focus on that than the fact that he's built an empire with his label Fat Wreck Chords — one he skillfully stewarded through the record industry's ongoing collapse — sold millions of his own band's records, and managed to raise a happy and healthy daughter in addition. But what kind of notorious rowdiness will NOFX get up to when it plays the Warfield on New Year's Eve? We got the band's 46-year-old San Francisco-dwelling leader on the phone to find out.
SF Weekly: "Cell Out," off your new album Self-Entitled, has us thinking that people don't really respect your boundaries. How do you react when fans get into your space?
Fat Mike: That song is about a show I was at at the [now-defunct rock venue] SF Pound. I felt something on my face — it was kinda itchy, scratchy, and warm. Then I felt it again. And it turns this woman was squirting me in the face with her boob. She said, "You're a sellout." I guess that's invading my space. But people don't really bother me. San Francisco is a cool city.
How is Fat Wreck Chords doing in the wake of the collapse of the record industry?
We're doing really well right now. Vinyl's doing really well. But, you know, about five years ago, we had to fire half our people. We had offices worldwide, in Berlin and Canada and Australia. We went from 18 people, now we're down to six. But, thankfully, we're still selling a lot of records.
And is it sustainable?
Oh, it's not sustainable. The record industry sucks. The Swingin' Utters used to sell 50,000 copies of their records. Now they sell eight [thousand]. It's just how it is. Everyone's selling 25 percent of what they used to, or less.
So what are the big plans for New Year's? Albums in their entirety? Champagne?
I don't know about Champagne. There will definitely be cocaine. We're not sure but we've been talking about doing The Decline or the whole Punk in Drublic. We usually do drag for New Year's, but this year we might go as clowns. The backstage at the Warfield is huge, too, so there'll be a lot of debauchery. And they said we could stay late so that's cool.
Is this gonna be like three hours of music?
No, no. No one wants to hear three hours of music. More like an hour and a half. No one knows what we're gonna play any given night. I never even know what we're gonna play. I choose from a list of like a hundred songs right before we go on.