N is for NOFX
The War on Errorism
Fat Wreck Chords, 2003
I was well aware of NOFX by the time The War on Errorism came out. I had heard some of the more well-known songs, like “Bob,” “Linoleum,” and “Dinosaurs Will Die.” I really enjoyed them, but they never prompted me to dig a whole lot deeper into NOFX’s extensive back catalog. I was building on a foundation of AFI’s heaviness (remember, this was the early 2000s—I started with The Art of Drowning and worked backwards quickly), Anti-Flag’s sharp political commentary, and Alkaline Trio’s heartfelt sincerity. NOFX didn’t really have much of those elements, and I didn’t really get their sense of humor.
And then I picked up The War on Errorism. In hindsight, it’s not that different than most NOFX records, it’s 90s punk, with a bit of ska, emphasized by El Hefe’s horns, and sounds exactly like a NOFX record. But the blatant politicism of the record caught my attention. I remember picking up this record when it came out at the old Record City, before it closed. Right from the start, “The Separation of Church and Skate,” there was an anger that wasn’t on the NOFX that I knew at that point. Both “The Idiots are Taking Over” and “Franco Un-American” had the biting political critiques, albeit in a very poppy, catchy way. And it was definitely the latter song that introduced me to both Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. In his own, weird, fucked-up way, Fat Mike is a lyrical genius. I can’t believe I’m saying this while discussing a record that has “She’s Nubs” on it, but he’s got a twisted, though brilliant, lyrical ability. “Franco Un-American” is a well written song, with some smart lyrics. “Mattersville” sings of a retired-punk utopia, which takes a certain sense of creativity to write. Along with “Mattersville,” “We Got Two Jealous Agains,” “The Separation of Church and Skate,” and “13 Stitches” are all odes to punk rock and its history.
Yes, the album is somewhat dated today. You can tell that from the cover, featuring George W. Bush as a clown. Yes, there are songs like “She’s Nubs” and “Medio-core” that are quite mediocre. But on the whole, The War on Errorism is a pretty good record. About par for the NOFX catalog. But it holds a special place for me as the record that pushed me into the deep end. Songs like “We Got Two Jealous Agains” and “13 Stitches” contain a punk rock history, that unwittingly helped introduce me to the multitude of bands contained in the lyrics, such as 7 Seconds, Adolescents, Bad Religion, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Descendents, DRI, Minor Threat, Misfits, and Youth of Today. And according to my iTunes, I have 28 NOFX records. Guess you could say the humor finally clicked with me. Seeing them live probably helped. One of the most entertaining bands live, bad jokes and all.