Had it not been for a group of aspiring punk rockers, NOFX’s Erik Sandin might not have been featured in the pages of this magazine. “When I was a kid,” recalls Sandin, “I knew some older kids from the neighborhood who were into punk rock, and they were like, ‘Hey man, we’re starting a band. Do you want to play drums?’ I was like, ‘Okay, sure, sounds good!’ Now, it could just as easily have been, ‘Do you want to play the harmonica?’ I just wanted to play music.”
Fortunately, Sandin got his chance to play music and drums. Twenty-three years later, he’s an influential drummer on the current punk scene. With his rapid, single-pedal kick drum rhythms and tom runs, Sandin’s propulsive patterns have kept NOFX’s crowds moving at a furious pace all over the globe for over two decades.
Sandin says his uptempo pulse was influenced by drummers like Don Bolles of The Germs, Earl Hudson of Bad Brains, and Bomber Manzullo from RKL. “Bomber started firing the foot really fast and repetitively,” Erik explains, “and I was like, ‘That’s awesome.’ So I worked on my bass drum technique, getting it really solid and quick. You really need to have that together for this kind of music.”
With eleven albums under his belt (one of which, 1994’s Punk In Drublic, went gold), Sandin has quite a bit of recording experience. But he was still thrilled recently to work with producers Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore (both of whom happen to be excellent drummers) on NOFX’s latest, Wolves In Wolves Clothing.
Despite his speedy meter, Sandin recorded to a click track for the first time two albums ago. This time around, his approach changed. “Before I did this recording, I was playing dead on with the click,” Erik says. “I made it a point to really nail it. But Stevenson and Livermore were like, ‘You know what, play to the click. But if you fluctuate a little in front or a little behind the beat, it’ll actually give the music a more natural feel.’ That loosened me up and made things more fun.”