Fat Wreck Chords is a pretty legendary label in the punk world. Started by Michael Burkett (better known as Fat Mike) and Erin Kelly-Burkett in 1991 they soon signed Lagwagon and the rest is history. Speaking to some US punk devotees in a keynote speech at BIGSOUND yesterday, Erin Kelly-Burkett and Joey Cape (of Lagwagon fame) sat down to have a chat with Lindsay McDougall (Frenzal Rhomb) about life in the '90s and the power of punk. 

On What's In A Name

"I’m a cape crusader." - Joey Cape

On Going To Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary 

“So we’re not original, shit.” - Joey Cape 

On Meeting Each Other

“It’s not a great story." - Joey Cape

“I saw Mike and was like shit I’ve got a demo tape in my car outside...I didn’t expect anything to happen and he called me the next day." - Joey Cape

On Starting Fat Wreck Chords

"To be fair it wasn’t my idea. Mike wanted to put out NOFX records without having anyone tell him what to do. Because he doesn’t like people telling him what to do." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"It was mostly about...music that we wanted to listen to. And as we started growing, it was the people." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On Designing The Label 

"I did a lot of cupcakes and birthday cakes and Mike was like that’s not very punk." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On Making Punk Cool 

"Punks been cool as hell for 20 years but Fat Wreck Chords made it cool." - Joey Cape

On The Inclusivity Of The Scene

"I just felt immediately these were my people." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"I was way into sport but other people grew and I didn’t...And then I found drugs and punk rock and I ditched it...Punk rock saved me." - Joey Cape

"It felt like a family. It sounds really hippie but it did really feel that way. I always felt safe...It brought people together...It was all about that passion." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On Representation Within The Scene

"Not on stage no. But I didn’t feel left out or insulted...I didn’t look at it and feel this is a boys club." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On Parents Not Understanding

"I was playing the Dead Kennedys and my dad walked in and saw the record cover and smashed it over his knee." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"My mum took me to the living room and burned all my [Black Flag] flags." - Joey Cape

On Borrowing Money From Fat Mike's Dad 

"The problem back then was that distributors would notoriously not pay you." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"We borrowed money from Mike's dad to put out the Lagwagon album." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On Only Doing One Album Deals

"Well why is because we were trying to start something different...We didn’t want a band to be on our label because they were stuck there." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"Lagwagon has been on our label for like 30 years and we’ve never had a contract." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"You can protect yourself with options on a deal...But there’s also the competing idea that it’s nice not to be trapped." - Joey Cape

"We thought maybe we can go from here to Epitaph to a real label [laughs]." - Joey Cape

"It emphasises what you’re doing at the time and that’s what is important." - Joey Cape

On Bands Changing Their Sound To Fit The Fat Wreck Sound

"Stay away from E minor."  - Joey Cape

"We’ve never had an A&R person ever...We were in the right place at the right time...If that hadn’t happened we wouldn’t have created that sound." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

On The Longevity Of The label

“This sounds super cliche but it was never meant to be a business and it was never about money.” - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"We try as much as possible for the band to tell us what to do. That dynamic works really well. I say this a lot, I really do think we were lucky." - Erin Kelly-Burkett

"I feel like there’s a short answer and the short answer is Lagwagon [laughs]." - Joey Cape 

"They were very smart...Very fortunate to have been involved in that." - Joey Cape