PICTURED: NOFX, from left: Erik Sandin, Michael “Fat Mike” Burkett, Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta and Eric Melvin. Photo courtesy of NOFX

by Alex Gallagher

Cameron Collins was drinking beer and listening to punk music when he had an aha moment. 

“I’ve always been a NOFX fan and I was doing beer festivals,” Collins says. “One night I was sitting in my backyard having some beers and listening to NOFX and it hit me that this would be an amazing festival concept.”

Collins then called his good friend, NOFX bassist Michael “Fat Mike” Burkett, to pitch the idea. 

“It was Cameron’s vision to do a festival that was the opposite of the Warped Tour and is something for older punk rockers who want to get wasted,” Burkett says. “I love Warped Tour, but I didn’t want to worry about what bands I’m missing. I wanted to feel like I was in a backyard listening to music and drinking a beer.” 

Though Burkett scoffed at the idea at first, he later jumped on board. He says <em>Punk in Drublic</em> — the name of NOFX’s 1994 album — would be the perfect moniker for the festival. 

Punk in Drublic returns to the Ventura County Fairgrounds at noon Sunday, March 27. Among the many bands joining NOFX will be Pennywise, Lagwagon, T.S.O.L. Face to Face, Dr. Know and Ill Repute. The festival will also have craft beer tastings and local food trucks.

“Punk in Drublic is just a good title because this festival is about drunk punk rockers,” Burkett says with a laugh. “What could be more fitting?”

Known primarily as a touring punk rock party, Punk in Drublic came into its own last year in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to Burkett.

“Last year felt exactly like what we had planned,” Burkett says. “It just felt so good to hang out with our bros and we feel like Punk in Drublic is a real success because it is now exactly what we intended it to be.” 

With a successful show in the books, Collins and Burkett are anxious to get their favorite show back on the road and party with their best friends. 

“We don’t book anybody who we don’t like to hang out with,” Collins says. “Everyone on the bill is friends that we would want to hang out with afterward.” 

Burkett had one request for the venues: hold the festival outside.

“I don’t want to play clubs anymore or a big festival,” Burkett says. “I feel (outdoors) provides a safe place for people who want to hang out and have a good time. This tour feels like I’m at home.” 

Because of this, Collins says Punk in Drublic feels less like a traditional music festival and more like a genuine good time.

“Everybody leaves Punk in Drublic with their sides hurting from laughing. They have a great time,” he says. “It’s a comedy show with great music and tons of camaraderie, which makes it unique. There is nothing I do that’s like it and there will never be anything like Punk in Drublic.” 

The atmosphere at Punk in Drublic is so relaxed that Burkett feels less pressure while performing. 

“It’s not a grueling tour and what’s really fun about this is that I’m not trying to impress people as much,” he says. “These are fans and they’re loaded. Because we’re the last band, we don’t have to try as hard or be as good,” he added with a laugh. 

Additionally, Burkett admits that his band is rare in that it does not practice and the setlist is penned the day prior.

“I write the setlist the day before and we don’t practice because that would make us predictable,” he says with a smirk. “I will, however, always throw in at least one song that people are not familiar with.”

Burkett isn’t fond of today’s modern punk rock, so he focuses on creating a show that pushes audiences outside of their comfort zone — with a few laughs thrown in.

“These days, punk rock is mostly pop with safe lyrics and safe shows,” he says. “I’d rather get in trouble, which I do a lot, and put on a show that is punk and makes people a little awkward and makes them laugh. Punk in Drublic is not a business. It’s a party that we throw. We’ve taken the approach that we’re OK with whatever happens.”

Punk in Drublic takes place on Sunday, March 27, starting at noon at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Boulevard, Ventura. Tickets start at $55 for the 21 and older show. For tickets and more information, visit punkindrublicfest.com.