Review: Don’t Read NOFX’s New Autobiography While You’re Eating

This book should come with a complimentary barfbag

nofx book review

NOFX photo by Emily Shur

NOFX’s new autobiography begins and ends with stories about drinking piss. It’s an apt framing structure for a book that overflows with tales of hepatitis shit, butt plug beer bongs, and sexual depravity. Many readers are likely to barf and give up after the first few pages of NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories (or at the sight of its nauseating cover). But if you manage to hang in, you’ll find the story of a deranged young punk band that played “barely listenable music” to miniscule audiences before refining their sound and stage banter. Once the band found its voice, NOFX helped define the sound of the nineties punk explosion (especially with their landmark Punk in Drublic), and became a stalwart touring act that continues to this day.

NOFX leader Fat Mike has cited Mötley Crüe bio The Dirt as an inspiration for his band’s tale (he said “I think our stories our better”). That sets a crazy high standard: The Dirt is a rock masterpiece that landed atop my list of rock’s best books ever. Both books are unflinching looks at hard rock lives of excess. The difference is that where The Dirt is absurd and hilarious (Crüe members sticking their cocks in burritos to obscure evidence of cheating on their girlfriends), Hepatitis Bathtub contains some stories that are so disturbing (a missed opportunity to prevent a rape, for example), you might wish you could un-read them.

nofx hepatitis bathtub book

Some content is stomach-churning, but the book is not without its charm. A story about stealing The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Freakey Styley-era stage costumes (and later using them as sex toys) is hilarious. I enjoyed reading the background of some of NOFX’s best songs – particularly the antics of The Moron Brothers, who make Beavis and Butthead look like gentlemen and scholars in comparison. The book covers everything from recovery and fatherhood, Fat Mike’s forays into politics, and the background of Mike’s label Fat Wreck Chords.

The cumbersome title and garish cover art of NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories don’t do it any favors. If the band were aiming for classic rock book territory, I would’ve chosen simpler and more memorable branding. However, it is an accurate representation of the book’s contents.

The verdict: this book will likely only please diehard NOFX fans. I respect the band’s candor and I have a high tolerance for gnarly rock tales – but NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories has a few too many stories (particularly those about rapists and murderers) that fucked up my day.

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