If you enjoy craft beer and punk rock, we’ve got a killer Saturday for you. On March 19, the craft beer and punk rock extravaganza that is known as Punk in Drublic will hit the Bell Bank Park in Mesa at noon.
The brainchild of Fat Wreck Chords owner and NOFX bassist/vocalist Fat Mike (Michael John Burkett) and Cameron Collins of Brew Ha Ha Productions, Punk in Drublic is named after a 1994 record by NOFX and has been happening at venues all around the country since 2017. While the lineups at each show revolve, this year’s Arizona show will be headlined by two of Fat Mike’s bands, NOFX and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Other national acts appearing on the bill are The Last Gang, Lagwagon, and Bouncing Souls.
Several local Arizona bands and beers will be featured at the festival including acts like Venomous Pinks, Authority Zero, and Flagstaff’s Winterhaven and beers from The Shop in Tempe, among others.
“We always try and support whoever's local. I gotta tell you, one of my favorite breweries, not just in Arizona, but in the country and I wish they were more widely distributed, is the shop over there in Tempe. They are such great people and they're blowing up right now,” Collins says over the phone from his home in Texas.
Collins and Fat Mike connected several years ago when Collins pitched him the idea of doing a beer and music fest with 21 beers and 21 bands only for people over 21. At first, according to Collins, Fat Mike was not keen on the idea of having so many bands.
“He said, ‘Wow, that's a terrible idea.’ It was kind of deflating,” remembers Collins.
Luckily for both, though, NOFX played the Scallywag Festival in San Diego a short time later and Fat Mike was able to see a version of Collins’ vision in person.
“We did a show in San Diego and there were (seven) bands. NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger, and someone else (Against Me, Reel Big Fish, and Wakrat, which featured Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine). There was 8,000 people there and I'm like, ‘Oh, this is what I want.’ It was fenced in, and it was a beer festival, so no kids, and it was so fun. Because, you know, we're older bands and everyone gets to drink anywhere, not just a little beer garden,” Fat Mike says over the phone from Portland, Oregon.
NOFX will be headlining the Punk In Drublic Craft Beer and Music Festival on March 19 in Mesa.
The relationship between Collins and Fat Mike has blossomed over the years, and each man speaks highly of the other in conversation. Both speak of the ease and comfort of working with the other, as well as their mutual respect. Collins says they spend time together whenever they can and even enjoyed spending Father’s Day together with their kids recently. The casual punk rock fan may have a hard time picturing the flamboyant NOFX bassist spending a quiet day with his daughter and friends, but according to Collins, it happened.
“We're completely opposite and different in every way, but it has made (our friendship) interesting. We give each other the space and the platform to share opinions and feelings on things (related to the festival). Over the years, we've just really developed this amazing friendship. We just really genuinely became pals. So, we really enjoy working together, and we trust each other, you know, and that's huge,” says Collins.
Fat Mike tends to book the bands and Collins lines up the beer side, but not always. Flagstaff’s WinterHaven got in contact with Collins and asked him to listen to their record. Collins says he recently moved to Texas and when he was driving out to his new home, he had some time to listen to their album and was blown away.
“These guys rip. These guys are rad. This band is amazing. So, I was like, ‘Hell yeah, we're gonna put them on. This is great.’ So anyway, yeah, we've got like three Arizona bands on the festival this year,” says Collins.
While Collins seemed excited about having The Venomous Pinks on, as well, Fat Mike’s reaction to being asked about how he feels about them was kind of classic.
“I feel strangely about them because they're friends with my ex (wife, Soma Snakeoil). Actually, I was considering producing them, but it was too weird. So, I produced The Last Gang instead,” says Fat Mike.
For the Venomous Pinks, the opportunity to play Punk In Drublic is a bit of a dream come true. The band has been working extremely hard over the past six months on a new record that will be released this summer on Austria’s Spam Records. According to the band, they worked with noted producer Cameron Webb (NOFX, The Last Gang, Lagwagon, Bouncing Souls, and Motorhead, among others) on the record, so they will have plenty to talk about backstage.
“I'm gonna fangirl out for me first and the Gimme Gimmes are like one of my favorite bands. So, I'll try to play it cool but deep down inside I’m going to be screaming,” says Gaby Kaos of the Venomous Pinks before bandmate, drummer Cassie Jalilie chimes in:
“For me, it would be Bouncing Souls and NOFX. That's the type of punk that I grew up on and those are all my biggest influences. The whole entire lineup, Lagwagon, all of them. These are all my favorite bands, so it is just like unreal, you know?”
Guitarist and vocalist Drea Doll (formerly of The Dames and NLSF) is also excited to see the Bouncing Souls.
“That’s the one band I’m looking forward to seeing. Their songs and songwriting have influenced us a lot. There is one track on our new album that we referred to, while we were recording it, as ‘the Bouncing Souls song.’ Like Gaby said, I’ll probably just try to be cool because I’ve never met any of them, but I’ll be freaking out inside,” Doll says.
Before too long, though, it might be the other way around. In addition to the new record, The Venomous Pinks will also be touring extensively in 2022 and have a documentary film coming out that chronicles the making of their first full-length record.
“There's also going to be a documentary released about the making of the album so everyone will be able to see the blood, sweat, and tears. The whole process like, behind the scenes, the whole thing. Director Alexander Thomas stayed with us for the second week (of recording) in December (2021). So, he's got all the behind-the-scenes (stuff) like us getting ready and driving and everything,” says Doll.
Clearly, it is an exciting time to be a fan of music with festivals like Punk In Drublic coming back and local acts like the Venomous Pinks doing great things. Although Fat Mike is not excited about having to do a couple of costume changes since he is in both NOFX and Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, he is excited to be back in Phoenix if not just about playing music again.
“We're gonna set up a badminton court, which is what we usually do. I will play people, too. We’re also going to have a tent you can throw rocks in because who doesn’t like to throw rocks at plates,” says Fat Mike.
Punk in Drublic. Noon Saturday, March 19, Bell Bank Park, 1 Legacy Drive, Mesa. Tickets are $55 to $125. Visit punkindrublicfest.com.