When talking to Spike Slawson, its hard not to get a little star-struck. The guy has been at the forefront of modern punk since the very beginning. The frontman of such great bands such as Swingin’ Utters, Uke Hunt and quite possibly the greatest covers band to ever grace any genre: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Talking to Spike is like talking to someone you’ve known for years. Warm, funny and very laid back, the guy makes you feel like you could talk to him for hours on end. When asked about the origins and longevity of The Gimmes, he answers simply.
“Well, you know, Mike (NOFX) and Joey (Lagwagon) were of the opinion that on any given 90’s punk record, the best song, I’d go even further and say the ONLY good song was generally the cover. So we figured we’d do an entire record or an entire live set of all covers done in such a manner. So, the rest as they say, is history.”
And an epic history it has been, with seven albums (each one following a different genre) and endless touring to their names. Slawson states that he always saw The Gimmes as a fun creative outlet and Fat Mike was the only one that saw any sort of longevity for the band, a “retirement plan” he says with a chuckle. To anyone that thinks The Gimmes are just a cover band, it’s a little more intricate than that.
“There’s a weird sort of, obsession in the so called ‘punk scene’ with real-ness or some kind of misguided notion of real-ness,” says Spike.
“We never really sweat with what we were gonna do, the song was already written, you take out some of the verses, take out the guitar solo and play whatever is left. Then you gotta figure out how you’re gonna do it.
“Then of course, you’ve got more time to figure out the important stuff like matching outfits, matching instruments.” He chortles.
The ever changing line-up of The Gimmes gives a freshness to each tour. Many different artists have graced the stage as a valuable part of the cover band of the ages, bringing something to the table that you never thought was needed. On this tour, The Living End’s own Chris Cheney and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley will be filling in for Chris Shiflett and Fat Mike respectively. Australian audiences are eagerly anticipating the upcoming tour as it’s the first time we shall see Cheney grace the stage with Slawson & co.
“Changing the line up gives us a chance to actually do tours as some of us are sometimes unavailable, or sometimes the offers are too good to pass up,” Spike explains.
“Chris did a tour of the west coast of the United States with us and we had a really good time. Our ever-changing line up gives us a chance to really get to know somebody”.
The Gimmes live show will be something to behold in its own. Showmen to the very end; Slawson, Cape, Raun, Cheney and Bentley are sure to show the audience at The Triffid why they are THE cover band to see at least once in your life. Matching outfits, matching instruments, The Gimmes change it up every night. The chemistry between all band members will certainly make you feel like you’re at a gig of seasoned professionals playing other people’s songs, only better.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes play The Triffid on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 October. Tickets are available now.