No straightedge please, we’re punk

NOFX switch gears from pop-punk tomfoolery to caustic political commentary

Nathan Hall

In its infancy, punk rock, from the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Suicide Commandos on down to the Dead Kennedys, was at least vaguely political. That all changed as various subgenres split off into separate factions like the Misfits’ horror-core scene or NOFX’s goofy So-Cal pop punk. With the solitary exception of 1994’s no-nonsense “Punk in Drublic,” NOFX has spent the bulk of their careers mocking the antistatist rants of their contemporaries.

Things have come full circle now with their 10th full-length release, “The War on Errorism,” an unabashedly virulent screed against our fearless leader Dubya, the commodification of the music they grew up on by nefarious multinational corporations and just plain ignorant saps. On an unrelated note, the compact disc also marks the first time the band has chosen to release their product on their bassist’s label, Fat Wreck Chords, rather than Epitaph, which is owned and operated by Brett Gurewitz of the equally socially conscious group Bad Religion.

The new album is a follow-up to their recent EP “Regaining Unconsciousness,” with the lyrics in both bemoaning the fact that back when they were writing about high school and girls, it was actually rebellion. This latest disc is a pleasant mix of sarcastic socio-political commentary (“apathy” and “Noam Chomsky” apparently rhyme – who knew?) and putting the mock back in democracy with sophomoric interludes such as “She’s Nubs,” a touching yet hilarious ode to a fan of theirs severely lacking in the appendages department.

It’s encouraging to see that the boys are actually physically working on these problems rather than just taking halfhearted potshots from the bleachers. Fat Wreck Chords has launched a Web site called punkvoter.com intended to encourage the disenfranchised to participate in elections again, bassist “Fat” Mike is organizing a Rock Against Bush Tour and the CD even includes a trailer for a new anti-GOP documentary entitled “Unprecedented.” If even a bunch of drug-loving drunks like NOFX are making a protest record, this is a portent. Of what exactly, we are not quite sure, but it is a sign nonetheless.

Nathan Hall welcomes comments at [email protected]