When it comes to punk rock, well, Fat Mike is punk rock. After founding and fronting the heavily influential punk institution NOFX in the early ’80s, Mike Burkett went on to create Fat Wreck Chords, one of the most successful indie labels in the U.S. He’s known for creating the punk supergroup cover band Me First & the Gimmie Gimmies, and has just released the first full-length album as his alter ego Cokie the Clown. He also created a Broadway musical, Home Street Home, and has launched a brand of panties marketed for men called Fatale. So, as you can see, Fat Mike makes for one interesting dude. Luckily, he took a break from his punk rocking and panty peddling to answer our 10 Questions.
1. What music have you been listening to lately?
I wish I had time to just listen and enjoy music, but I’m too busy making my own. Music has turned into a bad habit for me; I need to write all the time. That’s why I’m into BDSM. Can’t think about writing a song when two redheads are beating you. Oh, and the Beatles.
2. What’s one element of your playing that you most want to improve?
I wish my bass playing helped me remember the lyrics to my songs. I remember bass lines, but not second verses. The night before a tour, I put on my rubber gas mask and zip it up so I can’t see a f’ing thing. I have to play every song perfectly that way. If I make a mistake, I gotta start over. If I get it right, it’s a woman in shiny leather pumps in a nitrous oxide hit. I practice a lot the night before a tour.
3. What is the first concert you ever attended?
When I was eight, I saw Donny and Marie [Osmond] in Vegas.
4. What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
GG Allin at the Covered Wagon in S.F. in the ’80s. When he spit his own diarrhea into the crowd, I hid behind Jello Biafra [Dead Kennedys]. Jello makes a good shit shield!
5. If you could have lunch with any bass player today, alive or dead, who would it be?
Jay Bentley from Bad Religion. I just like Jay a lot, and we’ve never talked about bass playing in the 30 years I’ve known him.
6. If you could sub for a bass player in any band, who would it be?
It would be Steve Soto of the Adolescents. My dream actually came true last month, but too bad Steve couldn’t be there to see it.
7. What was your first bass?
A Hondo II.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass?
When I was 16, Mike Knox told me to use a .60 pick. The thicker the pick, the sharper the note you play. It’s just physics. I think it’s amazing how many bass players get that wrong.
9. What the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during a gig?
My girlfriend used to pee in my vodka drink when I would play big festivals. That wasn’t embarrassing though, that’s just hot! That one time I fell off the stage five times ... that was embarrassing. I realized I was wearing my gas mask. Duh!
10. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Playing music. Hey, that’s what I already do.