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28 Aug 2017

Punk + Other Genres + Hilarity: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Provide an It's Not Dead Highlight

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Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

If you’ve never heard of punk-rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, you’re missing out on a lot of hilarity.

The San Francisco-based band is fronted by Spike Slawson, of the Swingin’ Utters, who is normally joined by Fat Mike, of NOFX, on bass; Chris Shiflett, of the Foo Fighters, on lead guitar; Joey Cape, of Lagwagon, on rhythm guitar; and Dave Raun, also of Lagwagon, on drums. The band has released some hilarious themed albums, including 2006’s Love Their Country, featuring country songs—covered punk-style, of course.

At It’s Not Dead 2, frontman Spike Slawson was dressed as if he was going to a disco, with white pants and a gold microphone. During an interview, he explained where the band gets its inspiration for albums.

“It’s generally Fat Mike (has an idea), and then we end up chasing our tails to meet some unrealistic expectation or standard,” Slawson said. “I think what we need to do, and what we’re probably going to do, is some 7-inch records here and there—do some AM gold or a German song. People aren’t selling records anymore, anyway, so a 7-inch is a good thing. It’s not super expensive, and people will buy it, and you have songs people are going to want to hear live.”

I made a suggestion that perhaps the band should make an ABBA-themed record.

“Sounds good, but there are already too many ABBA tribute bands,” he said. “That’s already been done, including one that a friend of mine, Chris Dodge of Spazz, put out. That (band was) Bjorn Again. They kinda did it more straight and dressed up, wearing wigs and disco outfits. But I don’t know; we’ll try anything once, as evidenced by our body of work.”

Slawson said that his favorite album is 1999’s Are a Drag, which was the band’s show tunes album.

“It was fun to dress up for it, and I like the way the songs came out,” he said. “I also like the production aesthetic of the record.”

At It’s Not Dead, two of the band’s normal members—Fat Mike and Chris Shiflett—were not present. Slawson explained the absences and the substitutions.

“Mr. Jay Bentley of Bad Religion will be joining us on the bass guitar,” he said. “Sir Scott Shiflett is on lead guitar, and he’s a very accomplished guitar player, so no worries there. It’s pretty much all the Gimmes who you know and love. As long as they know what they’re doing and play the set instead of playing with themselves, it always works out. Chris can usually never do it because he’s always busy. Mike is busy as well. So we work it out.”

Slawson said he enjoys being in a band with Fat Mike.

“I don’t have a word to describe it, but it’s interesting. I’ll put it this way: Ever since this ’90s (punk) resurgence, it’s gotten really white and middle class, and he kind of did a back-turn and flipped that,” Slawson said. “He was kind of one of the figureheads of the middle-class punk movement where everything sounds like it’s a fucking Toyota commercial, and he’s not living that kind of life anymore. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming, but I just see it for what it is—it’s rock ’n’ roll.”

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are planning another live record in the near future.

“We were talking about doing a live record at a quinceañera, just like we did with Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah,” he said, mentioning the band’s 2004 album. “(We’ll make it) more likely down here, though. We have them up in San Francisco, for sure, but they’re always bigger with so many more people down here.” 

I mentioned to Slawson that the Coachella Valley just might be the place for the album, given the quinceañeras here can even run all night.

“Really? Wow. Well, I figure there’s also Orange County, Los Angeles County or Ventura County, but yeah. In someone’s yard or something—I think that would be funny. We can learn and play a bunch of Spanish songs.”

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