Fat Mike’s “Home Street Home.” Reviewed by Taylor Farner.

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This is certainly something very different from anything else Fat Mike has produced. Noticed, this is by Fat Mike, not NoFX. All of the songs were written by Fat Mike, as well as the lyrics, along with additional lyrics by his girlfriend (or wife now?) Soma Snakeoil and Jeff Marx, creator of Broadway musical Avenue Q. I’m reviewing the album, which is not really what the whole project was about. It was about the musical titled Home Street Home. The cover is even slugged, “Hit songs from the (s)hit musical.” It’s a musical about dirty drug abusing punks that are living out on the street. But it’s that… it’s a musical, not a punk album. The project as a whole is genius and puts a smile on my face; it’s an artist branching out and doing something other than what’s expected of him. Throughout his musical career, Fat Mike has been eclectic: NoFX changed from a hardcore outfit, softening up, playing melodic hardcore, pop-punk, ska, and doing a wide variety of covers from all different genres in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. So, go Fat Mike!

Okay, the record… Some facts: the record has a lot of cameo performances by other members of punk bands. I don’t know who exactly sang what and where, but Matt Skiba was on the record as well as tried out for the musical. The story behind it comes from experiences in both Fat Mike and Soma Snakeoil’s lives. I don’t want to say I related to the album because I thankfully can’t, but it totally let me try on their shoes, or at least hear what it’s like to be in them. I grew up in a very fortunate house: I didn’t have to spend nights on the street, abuse drugs, or sell my body to get along. I know there were people out there and there are now. But it’s easy to forget and ignore when you aren’t walking around LA, or just being unfortunate enough to live in a messed up household. Some people are well off, but just fall into a bad situation.

The record also goes beyond that. There are people who were thrown into situations like that, but have become content with it, and have grown out of it, and made it a part of who they are. They’ve evolved out of the lifestyle and turned a bad situation, to them, into a good one. Through all of the misery and drug overdoses and the loss of friends, some come out of it stronger for it. Then you take people like them… the drug abusers, the people abandoned to the streets, and looked down upon because they don’t have jobs or didn’t grow up to be these contributing members of society, when really they had no choice. It’s a miserable situation, both then and now, and it’s very real.

Something like this coming from Fat Mike speaks to his ability of playing anything any way he wants. An immediate reaction might be to see the subject matter he’s written about, drug abuse, turning tricks, drinking your life away, trying to kill yourself… it might be easy to see all those things as trying to get shock value, especially in a Broadway musical setting. But really, it’s just honest. There isn’t a man eating a sheep out on the cover, they’ve made a point to put their own lives into these songs. It took them a long time to get the project finished, but it’s been well worth all the effort they put in. If you like punk, you probably have to be in the right state of mind going into it to really appreciate it, but it’s worth it to at least hear the stories.