Roll over, Beethoven. Shoo, Schubert. Take a hike, Tchaikovsky. There’s a new maestro in the classical musical world, and he’s come to steal your place at elegant dinner parties, at weddings, at high-art functions, at wherever you might need a string quartet playing. “Who is it?” cry the decomposed composers from the grave, as a certain Simpsons composer looks on from afar, wrestling with his recent sexual misconduct settlement. Well…it’s Michael Burkett. Yes, Fat Mike of NOFX infamy. With a little help from frequent collaborator Baz the Frenchman, Mike has transformed 10 songs he’s penned over the years (and which were mostly recorded by NOFX) into a series of truly beautiful classical compositions.
It’s a far cry, too, from those terrible and cheesy tribute albums to pop and rock artists that various Royal Philharmonic Orchestras will occasionally release (seriously, the R.E.M. one is shockingly bad). Indeed, such is the care and delicate precision with which these tracks have been reimagined that they almost exist completely separately from their original incarnations—even if you know those songs well. As such, this is truly a remarkable and surprising album that will shake off any preconceived notions about who Fat Mike is and the music he makes.
“Am I recalcitrant or do I just like making music that hasn’t been heard before?” Fat Mike shares of the new release. “I don't know. I do know that making this album was pure joy for me. I finally got to hear NOFX songs in their purest form—no chainsaw guitars, no galloping drums, no whiney, annoying vocals. Just all the progressions and melodies I wrote played beautifully by amazing musicians that can actually read music! I’m very proud of this record and I can’t wait to record the next one. Making music is really fun again!”
Listen to the whole thing below before it drops this Friday via Fat Wreck Chords with a physical edition to follow in December. You can also check out Mike’s upcoming October dates in LA and Bakersfield here.