“I think a lot of bands, especially so-called punk bands of the ’80s and ’90s, are a little bit too preoccupied with some kind of weird, misguided notion of realness. And I think performance should be the exact opposite.” So says Spike Slawson, lead singer of punk rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. On stages overrun with posturing and lecturing, the Gimme Gimmes are about having a good time. Decked out in tuxedos, they goof through the ukulele opening of a thrash cover of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”; in Hawaiian shirts, they drive through a pummeling rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
“It’s entertaining for me, too. Which is why I do it,” Slawson says. “It’s fun to get into a different character. And with the Gimme Gimmes, I think we’re able to focus almost solely on how we present it.” The members of the Gimmes have “day jobs” in bands such as NOFX, Lagwagon and the Foo Fighters; Spike also plays with a ukulele-centric band called Uke-Hunt. The Gimmes just released a greatest hits album, entitled Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits, and are playing this weekend’s Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival on their current tour.
“Fremont Street is like a reality show all its own. All those beautiful neon signs.” — Spike Slawson, lead singer of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Spike says he enjoys Punk Rock Bowling more now that the festival has widened its scope a bit. “It’s not all stuff that just fits into a certain subgenre of punk or even just the umbrella of punk itself. They’ve stretched the definition of the genre a little bit.” Spike and his bandmates are also looking forward to sharing the PRB stage with another great showman. “Iggy. I don’t even think I’m going to change. I’m going to leave my monkey suit on and watch the master work.”
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have played Vegas many times—after all, what town is going to appreciate fezzes and versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” like we will? Slawson digs the town offstage, as well. “Fremont Street is like a reality show all its own. All those beautiful neon signs,” he says. “And East Fremont Street: It’s just a trashier side of Vegas. As a San Franciscan, I look at that as kind of [Las Vegas’] Tenderloin, but just a weird desert one. It’s just a trashier side of Vegas. That, I can appreciate. I’ve never walked there where somebody didn’t yell something out of a car at me.” What is he looking forward to in Vegas during this visit? “Delicious moments. Like it says on the side of the pizza box.” He adds, “that would also be my drag name.”