Hello and Greetings from NOFX. How are things with you? That's Nice. This would be a good time to start the introduction to this CD.
The War On Errorism is the latest album from NOFX. It was released on May 6th, 2003 (the band liner notes are signed on the March 25, 2003). It contains 14 tracks, and runs to 36:12 overall. It is available only on CD, due to the band having put some important things on an Enhanced CD, and so a vinyl version was not produced.
There's a bunch of Punk songs and some other kinds of songs (I guess we still do play Ska) and plenty of Sophomore lyrics.
This album is the 4th NOFX record I own (well, 3 and half, because I have the NOFX / Rancid split on which each band plays 6 songs) and it is, in my opinion, the best one that I own. Indeed, the band themselves consider it the best thing they've ever put out - even though the working title of the album was "Our second best Album" (due to it being an almost unanimous view that Punk in Drublic was the best thing the band had ever released), El Hefe mentioned on the "War Journal"1 that he thought Fat Mike had done them proud with the lyrics, and it was their best work to date. I haven't heard all of NOFX's material, but I now have their most recent 4 albums, and this is undoubtedly the best.
We've included an Enhanced CD featuring some videos and some political commentary. Yeah, we're not really known for our politics, but maybe it's time we are.
As the name would suggest, this is not a laughing joking album like most of NOFX's previous stuff. While Don't Call Me White from Punk in Drublic and the 18 minute classic The Decline made NOFX's feelings about some issues in the world today perfectly clear, overall, most of the songs they play involve something like Lesbian Dominatrixes, Animal Rights for those friendly sea creatures, or simply a good old accordion based sea shanty. This is the first time the band has made an overly political record, and it's definitely a success. There are songs about the usual NOFX things, (how Punk is being barneyfied for kids, etc.) but there are now some about how screwed up America is. If you've ever read any of Michael Moore's material, specifically Stupid White Men, then you will probably feel right at home listening to this album, as it sounds like the lyrics were written with him and people like him in mind.
The most obviously political element to the album is the cover and the liner notes - while the liner notes to So Long and Thanks for All The Shoes involved a bunch of joking questions and generally stupid stuff ("We Mooch shit off these people, why not call them and maybe you can too", followed by a list of names of people at clothing and musical companies, followed by "Thanx for the stuff, once again, we sold it for crack! It didn't last long."), this album is a different story. Fat Mike, NOFX's bassist, lyrics writer, and general spokesperson, has written a heap about exactly what the band feel about the world today. I recommend that you get the album and read it, but suffice to say that it's very good stuff. The band mention on an independent film, of which a trailer is included on the enhanced CD.
The Movie "Un-Precedented" clearly illustrates how the 2000 Presidential election was rigged in Florida. For being the so-called Leader of Democracy, the United States is now the butt of a worldwide joke. The Republican party stole the Election and illegally moved into the White House. It's pretty much the biggest scandal is US history and no one seems to be talking about it. All everyone keeps saying is "Get over it" or "That was so two years ago". Well, we're not getting over it and neither should you. If enough people see what really happened, hopefully we can make sure that it never happens again. Hey, the truth about the Cuban Missile Crisis didn't come out for over 30 years, but it was just as important when it did. Please watch this trailer for this documentary and show it to as many peple as you can. If you would like a full length copy, go to www.unprecedented.org to get one. Things are not going to change on their own. We need to work together to take this country back from the criminals (currently war criminals) that have stolen it from us.
There is plenty more, but that is the general idea. The band are not happy with George W. Bush, as their previous song (not from this album) Idiot Son of an Asshole suggests. Not to mention the cover of the album, which is distorted US flag, with the top half blue with scatter stars of different sizes, and "NOFX" written on it. Below, on the messed up stripes, is a cartoon caricature of Dubya himself, wearing clown make up. "The War On Errorism" is written on the flag with classic Never Mind the Bollocks "ransom note" style font.
I'm not going to describe much about the musical style of the songs, bar a cursory overview, because musically, the band has changed little from the last album, or indeed the one before. There are fast Punk songs, slow punk songs, a little Ska, and the inimitable vocals of Fat Mike, supported by Eric Melvin (proud purveyor of the "Mel Yell"). Suffice to say if you have heard any other recent NOFX stuff, and liked it, then you'll like the music on the album. Instead I'm going to go into a bit of detail about what the songs on this album mean, because moreso than ever before, the songs have a point.
- The Separation of Church and Skate
- The Album opens with a track about how Punk is becoming nothing more than a type of music, whereas it used to be an attitude. Nowadays "Punk" bands such as Blink 182, Sum 41, and the execrable Busted claim to be punks, but the songs they play have none of the protest attitude of real Punk. "Kids who used to live for Beer and Speed now want their Fries and Coke" is probably a good summing up line for this song, although forgive me for including another little snippet of lyrics:
I want conflict I want dissentDefinitely a good strong song to open the album with, and since I share the band's hate of crappy kiddy punk stuff like Busted, I really like this track.
I want the scene to represent
Our hatred of Authority
Our fight against Complacency
Stop singing songs about Girls and Love
You killed the Owl, you freed the Dove!
Confrontation and Politics
Replaced with Harmonies and Shticks
- The Irrationality of Rationality
- Essentially, this is Michael Moore's Downsize This! rewritten as a song. It deals with the way that Capitalism in America has gone into overdrive, and one CEO or shareholder makes 20 million dollars while 10 000 company employees lose. It tells the story of Danny, a worker who had "actually started to believe the weaponry and chemicals were for national defence" because he had a mortgage and a family. Finally, the poignant tale of Helen, "living in her car / trying to feed her kids". "Desperated people have been known to render desperate deeds / but when she shot that family and moved into their home...." - not a pleasant or cheery song, but an important one as a warning of the dangers of massive companies going all out for the bottom line of profit, and not giving a damn about their hard working employees.
- Franco Un-American
- My favourite song on the whole album. This is about the ignorance of the average American (Which Fat Mike mentions in the liner notes) as to matters about the world, or the problems in it. The narrator starts off never thinking about the universe because "it made me feel small", but after reading a little Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, watching Michael Moore, and listening to Public Enemy and Reagan Youth, the person starts to care. Probably the best line of the song is "Now I can't believe, what an absolute failure / The president's laughing cuz we voted for Nader". Every time I hear this song I like it more, and alongside The Decline (which I believe will be hard for the band to ever match) it's my favourite NOFX song. Stupid White Men in a song.
- Idiots are Taking Over
- This song is a rant about how all over the world, but especially in America, it is less of a minority and more of the norm to be stupid. Worse still, is that the idiots are in power, making decisions and running the world. Not only is this directed specifically at Dubya, it's generally aimed at the people who make life difficult for other people simply to make a quick buck, because they can. Fat Mike says he feels "like Charlton Heston / stranded on a primate planet / apes and orangutans that ran it to the ground..". Good old Darwin gets a mention: "Darwin's rolling over in his coffin / cuz the fittest are surviving much less often" Musically, this is a great song, and the powerful lyrics make it another of the album's highlights.
- She's Nubs
- A song about a fan of the band's who has no arms or legs. I'm not sure whether the song was written about a real fan, or whether it's just come out of Fat Mike's warped imagination... Either way, I'm not sure how I'd feel if it was me, and I heard this song. "It's hard to give good head / or get tied to a bed / when all you've got is a body and head / She's Nubs" If it is a real person, then at least the band have... err... tried not to offend her too much: "I hope she don't get mad / I hpe she thinks this song is good not bad / Cuz we think that she's totally rad / She's Nubs" Either way, I'll reserve judgement about this until I know whether it's real person. Musically, there is a nice guitar solo, if you don't fancy the lyrics too much...
UPDATE!! It turns out that the She's Nubs girl does actually exist. A little digging through the photos on the Fat Wreck site will get you a picture of her on Fat Mike's shoulders.
- A nice song about a community for "punks over the hill / we're spending our golden years in mattersville" As well as a number of video games mentioned "We got Charams, Pinball, Asteroids / Space Invaders and Missile Command2", there are mentions for a heap of punk icons, most of whom, it pains me to say, I haven't heard of. I did catch the mention for skateboarding legend Steve Caballero3 "Duane and Stevie Cab they still skateboard / but most of us lawn bowl and shuffleboard" Unfortunately, I haven't heard of Lime and the Locknecks. Even if you haven't heard of any of these people though, it's very nice song, that makes a pleasant change from the rather depressing tone of the rest of the album. Cheers to Aeroplane for telling me that "Duane" in the skating line refers to Duane Peters, an old skool pool skater. I am also told that you can get his signature decks from Beercity skateboards. Also thanks to Someone O. Rother for informing me that Davey Havok is lead singer of AFI aka A Fire Inside. He also says they can be described as "Satanic Punk", and their general mood is dark and gloomy, explaining the "Davey Havok's house is painted black" line. Thanks for that!
- This is the one song on the album where it's not clear exactly what Mike is talking about. The song is about a girl, but the lyrics don't appear to say anything particularly coherent about her. So I'm stumped. Anyone?
- Here, Mike is complaining that all the songs which are written these days sound exactly the same as songs from years ago - in other words, there is no originality in the music industry these days. "Medio-core the list keeps growin' / the melodies that have been stold / remind me of songs sung in the seventies / you might fool the kids / but you don't fool me / you ever heard of something called aboriginality?" Just before everyone shouts at NOFX for having sounded pretty much the same for ages, Mike admits in the last line: "I'm one to speak / this song sounds like 50 songs you've heard before / medio-core"
- Anarchy Camp
- This is probably the song which will really piss off a whole bunch of NOFX's older fans. Basically, it's a ska song. After putting some ska tracks on So Long and Thanks for All The Shoes, the hardcore punk fans (who believe Ska is for pussies) were up in arms, which lead to the band writing a song called "We don't play Ska anymore". Everyone thought that was that (there were no Ska tracks on the album before this one, "Pump up the Valuum") but here is NOFX singing a Ska song. Personally, I'm not really bothered, as I quite like Ska anyway, but I'm sure there will be some fans who really don't like this song. The song itself seems to be an ironic comment about how everyone is starting to say they're into anarchism just to sound cool. The song is about a summer camp style set up called Anarchy Camp, where "If you see somebody taking charge / you'll be expected to beat them" Props to Mike for mentioning the Anarchist's Cookbook - "We gotta get the manual and put it in the oven 'til it cooks / then we're gonna take the ashes to the wassail / and use them to spike the punch" Mike is saying how Anarchism is, to some people, just the latest fad, and they just want an excuse to be stupid.
- American Errorist (I Hate Hate Haters)
- As well as having a brilliant song title, this is also a brilliant song. "It's okay / allow yourself a little hate / Hatred is not so bad / when directed at injustice" would be a typical quote. This is probably wins the "most likely to cause a revolution" award for NOFX so far, maybe jointly with "The Decline" Mike's mission is "To expose and humiliate the American Errorists / we'll start with One" Musically, the song is fast and loud (surprisingly enough) but there is a killer guitar solo near the end, which I really like. "The / War / Has / Just Begun!". Someone O. Rother also points out that the song subtitle is probably a reference to "I Hate Hate" by Reagen Youth - thanks for that.
- We Got Two Jealous Agains
- A song about someone knowing that their partner is "The One" when they see their partner's taste in music. Essentially, it's an excuse to reel off a list of classic Punk albums. "I thought you were the one / when I heard Holidays in the Sun come from your bedroom" the title comes from realising that not only do the two people share the same taste, they have many of the same albums "We got two Adolescents / Two Peni's and two The Crews / We got two Someone Got their head kicked ins / We got two Declines / Two Damaged / and Two Jealous Agains / I knew you were the one" I don't own all the albums mentioned, in fact, I've not heard of most of them. However, one of my new aims in life is to pick up all of them...
- 13 Stitches
- This is about Mike growing up with early punk bands which played where he lived. "The first time I saw The Descendents / They were the fastest band I'd ever heard4" What's amazing is that The Descendents are still going reasonably strong, after Milo Aukerman the vocalist decided to hang up his lab coat and return to the band. I guess that just shows how long these guys have been around, if Fat Mike grew up listening to them.. The next band he talks about is a band that is also, unbelievably, still going, but suffice to say is probably not that great anymore. However, back in the day, they were classic: "The next time I went to the Whiskey / It was DOA with Millions of Dead Cops / The latter band played faster than I could believe5 / But the songs sounded the same and kind of sucked / 'cept John Wayne was a Nazi / And Joey Shithead was a punk"
- Re-gaining Unconsciousness
- A song about how the situation in America is so bad that "Diversity is our biggest fear" because "Now with our conversations tapped / and our differences exposed / How ya supposed to love your neighbour / with our minds and curtains closed" "First they put away the dealers ... then they put away the prostitutes ... then they shooed away the bums / and beat and bashed the queers / we didn't raise our voice / we didn't make a fuss / it's funny there was no one left to notice when they came for us" While the song might be slightly exaggerating the problem, I believe it paints a pretty accurate picture of what life could be like in the not too distant future. Nineteen Eighty-Four springs to mind...
- Whoops, I OD'd
- Only a single electric base guitar plays the tune of this song, about someone overdosing on drugs. The lyrics seem to make less sense as the song goes along, possibly to represent the person's mind slipping away on the drugs. "Looks like I pulled the rug from under myself / the falls too much to recover from..." - again, not a particularly pleasant song, but a very mellow number to end the album on. Definitely still a good track, although whether it's actually preaching about drugs is a different question, because NOFX aren't exactly Straight Edge6...
Overall, I'd say this is an amazing album, and one that any NOFX fan should own. Even more than that, I'd say any people who aren't into Punk music, but share the political opinions, would probably enjoy the album if they picked it up. I hope we get more of this political stuff from NOFX, as I enjoyed this album immensely. There is only one bad point that I can mention - the enhanced CD part of the album crashes nearly every time I run it. Someone has done a not too great job of coding it, as it simply takes ages to load (possibly because the videos are stored as Flash files instead of something more obvious like AVI.. or it could just be my crap PC. Either way, don't be in the position of buying the Album for the videos. Buy it for the music!
1 - a section of www.nofx.org where the band posted updates on the recording of the new album.
2 - does sound good, but I think I'd hike over my copy of MAME and Metal Slug 2 if I ever got offered to live there....
3 - what? You haven't heard of him? Shame on you. He's got the world record for the biggest half pipe air, he started the Bones Brigade, he was the first to pull off a Cabalerial, he's grinded down a handrail that went over 44 stairs, and he's been skating over 3 decades. Ring a bell?
4 - He's not wrong either. Listen to Coffee Mug by The Descendents to see what I mean.
5 - Damn right. They're even faster than The Descendents - unfortunately the songs do sound the same..
6 - Straight Edgers are punks who don't take any illegal drugs, drink, or smoke.
Blockquote italics taken from the liner notes. Forgive me for typing so much of this up, but I feel that the band say what they want to say, and for me to paraphrase it or just give the jist would be unfair to them.
Interpretation of the songs was all done by me, so if I've interpreted a song completely wrong, please forgive me.
Owning the album
Reading an ad in the Fracture hardcore punk fanzine
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 manual for the Steve Caballero details
http://www.punkbands.com/lyrics/ba nds/ryouth/misc.htm - I Hate Hate lyrics - thanks again to Someone O. Rother for that link.