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New York (AFP) – Punk rockers NOFX have apologized as they faced a backlash for making light of last year’s mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
The band, known for generally left-leaning politics but mostly for irreverent humor, quipped about the October 1 shooting in which a gunman perched in a hotel window killed 58 people, the deadliest massacre in modern US history.
“I mean, that sucked,” frontman Fat Mike said of the shooting as he played a punk festival in Las Vegas last week. “But at least they were country fans and not punk rock fans.”
As audience members voiced disapproval, he added: “You were all thinking it.”
The comments led a festival that had been started by NOFX, Camp Punk in Drublic, to disinvite the founding band from its latest edition that took place over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
“While NOFX is known for their dark, uncomfortable humor, the festival producers of Camp Punk In Drublic are shocked and disappointed by the band’s recent statements,” they said in a statement.
After an initial terse apology, NOFX late Sunday issued a lengthier reply on social media, saying that the remarks were “off the cuff” and “we didn’t plan or intend on saying anything so insensitive.”
“We made a tasteless joke. But to be clear, NOFX does not condone violence against ANY group of people, period!”
Fat Mike had made the offending remark as the band played one of NOFX’s more controversial songs, “72 Virgins,” whose lyrics suggest that satiating sexual desire is key to stopping suicide attackers in the Islamic world.
Fat Mike and his bandmates suggested that they felt fear that they would be harmed over the song.
NOFX emerged in the 1980s amid a resurgence of punk rock out of California that included Green Day, Rancid and The Offspring, although NOFX has not found the same mainstream appeal.
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