Fat Wreck Chords

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Fat Wreck Chords
Founded 1991
Founder Michael Burkett
Erin Kelly-Burkett
Distributor(s) Fontana (US), RED (US), ADA (US), PIAS (Europe), eOne Music (Worldwide)
Genre Punk rock
Country of origin U.S.
Location San Francisco, California
Official website http://www.fatwreck.com/

Fat Wreck Chords (pronounced as if spelled "Fat Records", /fæt ˈrɛkɜrdz/) is a San Francisco, California-based independent record label, focused on punk rock. It was started by NOFX lead singer Michael Burkett (better known as Fat Mike) and his girlfriend at the time, Erin Burkett, in 1991.[1]

The label has released material for many notable bands including NOFX, Good Riddance, Descendents, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Loved Ones, Screeching Weasel, Propagandhi, Rise Against, Lagwagon, Strung Out, No Use for a Name, Less Than Jake, Against Me! and Anti-Flag. Fat Wreck Chords has released 157 studio albums to date.[1]


The label was started by Michael Burkett (better known as Fat Mike) and his girlfriend at the time, Erin Burkett, in 1990.[1] Michael wanted a label that would represent himself, signing only bands he liked and that had similar beliefs. In the beginning Erin would fill orders and handle mail when Michael was on tour. The operation moved into its own office around 1993.[1]

The label grew during the 1990s selling over a million records per year. It had eighteen employees and four offices.[1]

A documentary about Fat Wreck Chords called 'A Fat Wreck' is set to be released in 2015.[2]

Business practice[edit]

One somewhat uncommon and defining characteristic of Fat Wreck Chords is that they only sign one-record deals with bands. This allows the bands working with Fat Wreck Chords to have a choice as to if and when they want to put a record out on the label.[3] In some cases, bands have released albums on Fat Wreck Chords but also on other labels.

The label has never been a member of the Recording Industry Association of America as indicated on the frequently asked questions portion of the label's website:

"Are we a member? Not only no, but FUCK NO! We spent three years having our label's name (which was misspelled) removed from their members list. A year went by, then our name showed up again on their fucking list! Who are these sonsabitches [sic]?! Needless to say, we're in the process of having our name removed again, but they aren't being too cooperative."[4]


Many bands on this label participated in the campaign Punkvoter, which was started by Fat Mike and attempted to encourage the youth in the U.S. to vote in the 2004 U.S. presidential election for John Kerry and against George W. Bush.


The label has had two subsidiaries over the years, Honest Don's and Pink & Black. Honest Don's released records from Chixdiggit and Teen Idols amongst others, while Pink & Black released albums from female-fronted bands like Fabulous Disaster and Dance Hall Crashers.

Fat Mike also advanced $50,000 to Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky of Propagandhi which he recouped within months from sales of Propagandhi records to help them start up their own label, G7 Welcoming Committee,[5] though G7WC is independent from Fat Wreck.


Compilation albums[edit]

Main article: Fat Music

Fat Wreck Chords regularly releases compilation albums, often to promote bands signed to the label, but also, since 2003, to raise funds for various charities. The earliest Fat Wreck Chords compilations all have titles with some reference to fatness.

Shortly after Fat Music Volume IV was released, Fat Wreck Chords released a similarly titled album, Short Music for Short People, which features 101 songs, all averaging approximately 30 seconds. The shortest song ("Short Attention Span" by the Fizzy Bangers) is only eight seconds, and the longest ("Out of Hand" by Bad Religion) is 40 seconds. Some of the songs were commissioned and recorded specifically for the album, while others were from the bands' pre-existing repertoires.

Since the last Fat Music album has been released, the Fat Wreck Chords compilations have been explicitly for charitable causes. Liberation: Songs to Benefit PETA is a benefit album for the animal rights organization PETA, and PROTECT: A Benefit for the National Association to Protect Children is a benefit album for the children's rights group PROTECT. Between Liberation and PROTECT, two other compilation albums were released in protest of President George W. Bush and his administration: Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

To celebrate 20 years of business Fat Wreck Chords released the 3-disc Wrecktrospective compilation on December 8, 2009. Disc 1 is composed of the label's greatest hits, disc 2 is composed of unreleased demos and rarities, and disc 3 is composed the Fat Club 7" series in its entirety.[6]

Album series[edit]

Live in a Dive[edit]

Live in a Dive is a series of live albums recorded by Fat Wreck Chords.[7] In order of release:

Title Artist Release date
Live in a Dive No Use for a Name September 11, 2001
Live in a Dive Bracket February 26, 2002
Live in a Dive Sick of It All August 13, 2002
Live in a Dive Strung Out June 22, 2003
Live in a Dive Subhumans February 10, 2004
Live in a Dive Swingin' Utters June 29, 2004
Live in a Dive Lagwagon February 8, 2005

Fat Club Series[edit]

Main article: Fat Club

In addition to the Live in a Dive series, Fat Wreck Chords also released the Fat Club series of 7" vinyl records during 2001. The series was only available to mail-order subscribers which received one single every month. Fat Wreck Chords did not publish any information on the upcoming releases so subscribers would not know what they were about to receive until the record arrived in the post.

Although the Fat club series was limited to 1,300 copies for each single, the songs contained on the records were later released as the third disc of the Wrecktrospective collection.


Current bands[edit]

Former bands[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Gaining Weight — The Rise of Fat Wreck Chords As One Of The Last Great Punk Indies". Bandcamp. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "A Film Project about Fat Wreck Chords". A Fat Wreck. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  3. ^ "BBC Jan-16-2003: Fat Mike on The Lock Up". NOFX Wiki. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  4. ^ "F.A.Q.: Community: Fat Wreck Chords". Fatwreck.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  5. ^ Robertshaw, Steven (2005-10-13). "NOFX: The State of Punk to Come". Alternative Press Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  6. ^ "Records: Fat Wreck Chords". Fatwreck.com. 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  7. ^ "New "Strung Out" MP3 & 'NOFX' Coaster track list". Fatwreck.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 

External links[edit]