Published by Da Capo Press – 368 pages
Does anyone not know NOFX? For the one person who lives under a rock, allow me to explain. NOFX is one of the most influential bands of modern punk. They existed before the East Bay/So-Cal explosion of the 1990s, maintained their status throughout the mainstreaming of punk, and have continued to remain a dominant musical force. Their brand of breakneck melodic punk has influenced countless bands and Fat Mike’s (bassist/vocalist) label, Fat Wreck, has helped grow and sustain many bands that share the sound NOFX helped shape/create.
photo by Ben Garcia
The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories is a band memoir, allowing each band member (past and present) to share personal stories about life in the band. Many anecdotes are not for the faint of heart however, if you are a NOFX fan, you already expected stories that would cross the line of good taste. Beyond the shock and gross out tales of debauchery and self-inflicted harm documented within these pages lurk other stories that are much more personal than I expected. It’s these stories that create a lasting impression and make this book essential reading.
The personal stories that are shared within these pages often feel like therapy and appear to be the first time an event, thought, or feeling was shared by the band member with anyone (including within the band). Each disclosure reads like a liberating revelation and I hope that the empowerment felt from the telling of each secret or personal struggle will be multiplied as readers find comfort or inspiration knowing someone else has waged similar battles and come out OK.
This memoir is a wild ride. There are times when a story in The Hepatitis Bathtub made me like the band and its members more than I did previously and there are other times when a tale made me like a certain member much less. However, by the end of the book, the individuals that collectively make up NOFX are four extremely likeable characters. Keep in mind that this is no small feat. Many times, when a band pulls back the curtain and its members share who they truly are, those who bare witness are left in a state of revulsion.
The Hepatitis Bathtub captures four diverse individuals who overcome obstacles (some self-made and some created by others), demonstrate significant personal growth, and share intimate details of their lives that many micromanaged bands wouldn’t dream of sharing with a fan base. It’s these gross, hysterical, shocking, maddening, and emotional tales that make this superstar group human and makes me proud to be counted as one of their fans.
– NOFX’s most recent release, First Ditch Effort, plays like a soundtrack to this book. The subject matter of many songs reflects the stories found within The Hepatitis Bathtub, especially Fat Mike’s literary contributions which makes sense since he is the primary lyricist. I recommend reading The Hepatitis Bathtub and then spinning First Ditch Effort. Although the songwriting can stand alone, I’ve found that the songs take on a much greater significance after reading the book.
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