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Legendary punk outfit NOFX is gearing up for their final tour by releasing a five-track EP titled Half Album. These tracks stem from the same recording sessions that produced the band's critically acclaimed releases, Single Album (2021) and Double Album (2022). "These songs were always there," says NOFX frontman Fat Mike. "It just took me a little longer to polish them up."

Leading the charge is "I'm A Rat," a pure shot of NOFX's signature skate punk energy. Initially performed by Japan's Hi-Standard, the song gets the full NOFX treatment here, complete with a riotous puppet-themed music video. There's a fresh take on The Smiths' classic "The Queen Is Dead," previously explored in a stripped-down rendition of Fat Mike's 2019 solo album Cokie The Clown. The EP closes with "The Last Drag," a powerful companion piece to "The Big Drag" from Single Album.

While more projects are on the horizon, Half Album doesn't mark NOFX's final release. Yet, it does signify the start of a new era, hinting at the transformation of NOFX as we've come to recognise them. 


Fat Mike has never done things by halves until now. As NOFX wind up their time on this planet after 40 years, the seminal punk band—completed by Eric Melvin, Erik 'Smelly' Sandin, and Aaron' El Hefe' Abeyta—have decided the time is right to do exactly that. Well, kind of. After 2021's Single Album and 2022's Double Album, NOFX's latest release is called Half Album. Because that's precisely what it is.  The fifth side of their epic Double Album. "These songs were all recorded at the same time," the frontman explains. "It just takes me a while to finish shit. So, this is me tying up loose ends, which is very good for the soul." 

If the phrase "tying up loose ends" sounds somewhat like Mike doesn't care, he does. A lot because these aren't just leftover songs or an afterthought. Put those two records and this EP—sorry, this half album—together, and you get what Mike considers an actual double album. And a good one at that. "I don't think there are any good double albums," he says. "The White Album is a great album, but it's not a great double album. There are a lot of shit songs on there. I don't think there's any shit songs on this—I wrote it to make a great double album."

He put a lot of thought and effort into it, too. For example, the last song on Half Album is called "The Last Drag." A counterpart to Single Album's opener "The Big Drag," it took Mike five years to finish, and not only brings the whole 25-song double album full circle ("They're great bookends," he proclaims) but also reveals the profound depth of his songwriting—something that people often overlook. "The Last Drag" song not only sees Mike sing from the point of view of one of his exes, but it incorporates a simultaneously humorous and depressing homage to Lesley Gore's classic 1963 hit "It's My Party." It might not sound like it would work on paper, but it really does, mixing humour and pathos to devastating effect.
"My ex went to Vegas to detox while we were doing [Mike's musical] Home Street Home," he explains. "It was supposed to be for 10 days, and it was during the [adult video industry's] AVN Awards, and she just had a two-and-a-half-week party with all her friends without her fiancé. So, if you read the lyrics, there are a lot of harsh words in there, but it really wasn't easy to write from her point of view. That's why it took me five years. And the fucked thing is, no-one's going to understand what I'm singing about. They'll think it's me. Only she and I will know, and it's going to bum her out. “He knows this because it already bums him out.  "The worst thing is it didn't even help," he continues. "It's just reliving bad memories. Thinking about it, writing lyrics about it, and going over it over and over—that's not healthy. Not healthy." 
If that's the depressing note on which Half Album ends, what precedes it is a little less bleak. Opener “Fake-A-Wish Foundation” is the second NOFX song after the Single Album "My Bro Cancervive Cancer," about a guy called Brett who pretended to have brain cancer to hang with bands and get free merch. It's a gorgeous, lilting ballad that might sound sad but contains some truly comedic and biting lyrics. Then there's "I'm A Rat"—written by Mike but first recorded by Japanese punk band Hi-Standard," and included on last year's Fat Mike Gets Strung Out.

It's one of 14 NOFX songs so far, only recorded by other bands worldwide and not NOFX themselves. It is also remarkable that it contains 54 chords that aren't repeated in a row. All three versions demonstrate what the world knows deep down but probably needs to be told again, which Mike is doing by including it in this release. "I want to be recognized as a great songwriter," he admits, "which I'm not. But I will be within a couple of years. Punk rock songwriters are not known as songwriters. Take Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion—unless you're a punk rocker, he gets no credit. Tim Armstrong gets some because he writes for so many people, like Pink! And some movie soundtracks, but he's still not known for songwriting. My thing is thinking of things that haven't been done. Thinking of things, the world's missing, and why, and will it work?"
If anyone can change that attitude about punk rock musicians, it's Fat Mike. This is precisely why he wrote "The Humblest Man In The World." After all, who else would or could write a balls-out punk rock song that aims directly at himself for not just wanting to be so recognized but knowing that he should and will be? "I'm calling myself out," he admits, "because I'm not the humblest man in the world. And even saying that is the most arrogant thing you can say. I think I could be a better me with some humility. One of my big personality flaws is my arrogance. I see it and everyone else sees it, so I thought I'd just put it on the table with this song."
That track follows—"The Queen Is Dead." Eagle-eared listeners will recognize it as a song that first appeared on, You're Welcome, the Cokie The Clown full-length from 2019. This is a reworked, punked-up version of that original, but it's no less powerful or poignant a tribute to its subject. As to why it's included here again—well, it's another way to prove the versatility of his songwriting. Which ultimately, it all comes down to that wish to be regarded as a great songwriter.  "I like playing songs in different genres," he says, "and a great song can be played in any genre. I just like to showcase that."
Though he has plenty more in the pipeline, Half Album isn't the last record that NOFX will release. It is, however, the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning of the future) of NOFX as we know them. It's also proof, despite its title, that Fat Mike doesn't do things by halves. This might be called Half Album, but it's part of a much bigger legacy and an even greater whole.   



Half Album track-listing

1. Fake-A-Wish Foundation
2. I'm a Rat
3. The Queen Is Dead
4. The Humblest Man in the World
5. The Last Drag


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