NOFX: Heavy Petting Zoo
Heavy Petting Zoo was the punk band NOFX’s follow up to 1994’s Punk In Drublic, an album which brought them considerably higher notoriety than previous efforts. Perhaps predictibly for a punk band that likes a good joke, the CD cover showed somebody engaging in “heavy petting” with a sheep. The vinyl version went, ahem, a step further.
Regardless, the album was met with high expectations and in many instances delivers on those expectations. Track two, titled “Philthy Phil Philanthropist,” was the lead radio single. The track was a shot across the bow of anybody and everybody in politics who decides that they like taking money more than they like helping their constituants.
The next track on the album, “Freedom Like a Shopping Cart” tackled the very idea of freedom by comparing the average American to a homeless person living in a cardboard box. Because of this comparison, many people draw the connection that it is a song about being homeless. Those people would be wrong. The track is about how people living the “American dream” are tied to a rigid way of thinking; “go to school, get good grades, get a good job, buy a house, get married, have a family” (not a quote form the song, by the way, but the standard definition of success). To the person who doesn’t want any of those things, they may see the person living in a box and see that they have less worries than the person who works 8 hours a day only to go home. Now, I have a job, I have a house and a family and all that, but what really makes me feel the best is a well written and thoughtul song, regardless of genre. This is a well written and thoughtful song.
“Bleeding Heart Disease” is a little song that chugs along in the “Do Re Mi” style of cadence. An extended quote of the lyrics shows “Dough, what our lives are lived for/Rae, just a crazy Aussie/Me, the generation forges on/Fo, dder for corporations/Sew, wing our lives together/LA, such a nice place to get shot. But don’t forget the T it/Follows liber in the Constitution/Following the part about pursuit/Of happiness the bi product/Of colonial precious metal/Mine extracts which/Brings us back/To dough”. Yes, it meanders a little bit, but it does get to a point. We forge on, trying to make sense of our lives, which for many is the pursuit of money rather than the pursuit of happiness.
Track 7 on the album, “Liza” follows up on a single from the band titled “Liza and Louise”. In the original song, Liza meets a woman named Louise and they explore sexuality together. In “Liza” we see that she have moved on from Louise, only to assume the role of finding other questioning women to take advantage of. While also released as the b-side of the “Louise and Liza” single, this was the last song of the Liza and Louise trilogy and I’m just going to post the whole saga here for your consumption.
NOFX’s lead singer wrote “August 8th” about the death of Jerry Garcia. Time to explain a little bit about the divide between hippies and punks. In the 60s, hippies wanted to change the world with peace and love. In the 70s, punks came a long, saw what came about with peace and love, and decided “fuck that”. As a result, a sizable group of punks hate hippies. Now, I’m a non-violent person; it seems to me that violence doesn’t sovle anything, from trans-national disputes to domestic disputes. While that may label me a hippie in the eyes of some, the music to which I most identify is punk rock. It is with this dichotomy that I find this song. It is about how beautiful the world was on the day Jerry Garcia died. While I can see the humor of the song, I’ve never really warmed up to it (not that I’m a big Jerry fan).
NOFX have had continued success on the Warped Tour circuit, working on that summer tour several times over the past 20 years. Fat Mike runs the successful indie record label Fat Wreck Chords. 2015 saw the 25th anniversary of that label. 2016 is their 33rd year a a band. Pretty impressive feat for any band, really.