Spike Slawson – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes ‘It Ain’t Exactly Rocket Science’

When people think of cover bands they probably think of the band that plays Friday nights down at their local pub and not a conglomerate of famous punk rockers playing faster, louder, and more flamboyant versions of songs you pretend not to like (but mysteriously know every single word to). But that’s exactly what you get with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Featuring members of Lagwagon, the Ramones, Swinging Utters, The Damned, and Rocket From the Crypt, this chaotic smorgasbord of punks smash out all your favourite hits from your least favourite genres! The Gimmes are heading to Australian shores in February so we caught up with vocalist Spike Slawson to get all the deets about what to expect!

The band has a fairly large roster of musicians filling in on various parts for tours – is it hard for the band to feel tight without playing with the same people constantly? Or does it give the band a freshness that helps to keep it fun and light because it’s not always the same people?

Well, it ain’t exactly rocket science. Every Gimme has added his or her individual flavor to the act. Anyone from a famous or semi-famous punk band, who can stuff a wild monkey suit and troll the average crowd almost to the point—and occasionally beyond—of collective, outward expressions of disapproval, could potentially fit the bill. That being said, I am overjoyed at the prospect of returning to your shores with this particular group. We have had a lot of fun playing and travelling together over the last couple of years. Hope you like it spicy, because we are what you might call well-seasoned.

How do you approach the musicality when putting together an album? Are you looking to strike a balance that (somewhat) emulates the original, but also keeps it kinda punk, or is it just finding a vibe that works? 

I like to vaguely familiarize myself with the original for twenty minutes or so, and then instruct my brain to strike it completely from the record. If it provokes laffs on ours and others’ parts, there’s a good chance we’re on the right track. I have to admit that in 2023, I have no idea how to keep it punk. 

One of the fun things about the Gimmes is that fans will often find references to iconic punk songs. At what point does the band look at inserting these iconic riffs or melodies or whatever into a song you’re working on? Is it a sort of natural thing where someone suddenly realises the key fits or is it something you go out of your way to work in? 

When we end up going too far out of our way in any respect, it generally means we’re losing the thread. I think whether we’d want to admit it or not, every one of our versions has a template somewhere in punk history and occasionally we cop to it and actually include it in the song. Like I alluded to earlier, rocket scientists we are not.

I’ve read that The Eagles weren’t fans of your cover of ‘Desperado’ (which I find hilarious!) but have you ever had any other interesting responses to your version of a song from an original artist? 

No, to my knowledge, that was it. Still a red badge of honor for me to wear to my grave.

Since you’re touring Australia can we expect any particular songs in the set? Any Aussie classics?

Definitely. Wait and see for yourself. Justice ain’t got nothing to do with what we intend to do to those songs.

You’ve covered a few Aussie greats, will you likely do any more – like Johnny O’Keefe, Kylie Monique, or even Australia’s most famous and successful export – The Wiggles? 

Man, if I thought we could do an honorable version of ‘Miss a Thing’, by Kylie, it’d already be in the fucking can. I just don’t see it, though. Jesus wept, what a fucking song!

I’ve heard you occasionally mention the possibility of another live album – any updates on that? 

It’s looking good. For a fee, we will RUIN your event and leave you and the world with a recorded keepsake to treasure for the remainder of your days. Communion… bris… estate sale… you name it, we do it. 

What is the future looking like? Do you have any new projects (for Gimmes or any other band) or anything fans can get super excited about? 

Look for a record this year from Los Nuevos Bajos. We are a Panama City/San Francisco band who cover boleros from the epoca de oro, but with our own style and flavor. I heard somebody call it post-punk from the jungle, and that almost says it. 

Interview by Dave Mullins

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are touring all through February!

Me First And Ther Gimme Gimmes – AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?!

Friday, Feb 3: Uni Bar, Wollongong
Sat 4 Feb: Metro Theatre, Sydney
Sunday, Feb 5: Schooner Or Later, Sydney (Harbour Cruise)
Tuesday, Feb 7: The Basement, Canberra
Wednesday, Feb 8: Miami Marketta, Gold Coast
Friday, Feb 10: Princess Theatre, Brisbane
Saturday, Feb 11: Northcote Theatre, Melbourne
Sunday, Feb 12: Torquay Hotel, Torquay
Tuesday, Feb 14: Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Wednesday, Feb 15: Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
Friday, Feb 17: San Fran, Wellington
Saturday, Feb 18: Studio, Auckland

Tickets Here

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