Before Me First and the Gimme Gimmes took the stage at the Fonda to perform an epic set for the Holiday season, I had the chance to sit down with Spike Slawson and Joey Cape from the band and discuss everything under the sun.
Dave: Hey guys. We’re sitting down with Joey Cape and Spike Slawson from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Welcome back to LA. “Santa Baby” came out today…we heard it on the way over.
Joey: I saw the link but I don’t do the social networking thing anymore. I think someone sent me a link to it.
Spike: I took Facebook off my phone…it was getting aggravating.
Dave: Is this a single song drop…is there a Christmas album in the future? Are you going to start doing this stuff more?
Spike: For now, just the song… maybe a few more (songs) to play live. I don’t know if there are that many Christmas songs that I would want to do.
Joey: This is an obvious thing that a cover band should do, and it’s come up over the years a few times. And we always end up in the same place: there aren’t that many holiday songs that we think would make good Gimme Gimme songs. Plus every band does it. We got a few that we’ve demoed to do live. We did “Feliz Navidad” – and it makes such a good punk rock song.
Dave: You’ve done that before though once, Right?
Spike: Ya, we did it at the bar mitzvah.
Joey: Ya we did, but the new version is way cooler. In the future, maybe an EP. Like a 5-song EP. We got three good ones.
Spike: We did this to highlight our calendar coming out this year. Which features ‘Jerry’ (Joey) in compromising positions.
Joey: Almost nude.
Dave: Where’d you shoot it?
Spike: All over San Francisco.
Joey: My wife took the pictures.
Spike: She came up with the environments. She’s a fascist when it comes to her personal vision. She adheres to it.
Joey: She’s been our sort of stylist… thank fucking god… for almost the entire history of this whole band.
Spike: Because a lack of style is still style. It’s still a style decision. So a trucker hat and dickies shorts and long tube socks is still a choice… its’ just a poor one. And Audra has style… and then furthermore this fascistic – probably from her Italian province – this implementation.
Joey: You don’t have to bring up the fascist thing just cause she’s Italian.
Spike: In the creative world, I don’t think democracy is a positive – I don’t think it works. You have to have a boss and a vision.
Joey: But ya… she’s great
Spike: Fascism is great. Right wing extremism!
Joey: —-Its all the rage!
Dave: I saw Natalia Fabia did a painting of you… that’s my life goal. To be in a Natalia Fabia painting.
Joey: She did it on my birthday. We were in Japan and when she finished, I didn’t even have the gall to ask for it. And she gave it to me and said, “happy birthday!”. And I said I’m not traveling with this gem. And I think she’s gonna give it to me tomorrow night after the show. But then you have this conundrum…I could understand if this was of your daughter, but where do I put a picture of me.
Spike: On the wall, In the guest room.
Joey: Right on the front door…just on the door. First thing you see when you enter.
Dave: How was Japan? Have you guys done any record shopping in Japan?
Spike: Yes! Tai Yu records in Japan. It’s like a cliché you don’t wanna give up your spot. This dude – he’s an old rockabilly guy – he doesn’t give a shit about the internet. Old rock ‘n roll and psych stuff and French pop and boleros. You don’t see this stuff anywhere. Like the only other place that boleros were popular except for Latin America was Japan. And the Japanese keep their records really clean… so it’s all bagged and nice.
Joey: —- And Australia. And that’s the thing with America. It’s like the dollar bin. So you take chances. You know it could be scratched, but it’s only a buck. But I don’t want that. It’s nice when someone cares for them.
Spike: Records are fuckin’ expensive in Australia. And they know what they got and what they can get for it.
Joey: I always buy at least a few records in Australia and I don’t care. They always have a very specific record I’m looking for. In Brisbane, rocking horse records. I’ve had the best luck in the world there.
Dave: I know… I own a record store in Huntington beach and the Ozzies come into my shop and buy quantity and we hook it up for them, and now with the internet we can see everyone’s collections in this database. Everyone catalogs their shit. And they’re selling them all over the world. That’s the thing with the internet, I can now see what these guys are doing with the stuff they buy from us.
Joey: It’s kind of ruined it for me. I think some of the romance has gone out of it when its so easy to find online.
Dave: Last time I talked to you, all we talked about was international travel and you guys have played 20 different countries since then
Spike: That’s right, we went to Sao Paolo, Buenos Ares. Santiago, Chile — That was my first time down there! Santiago is safe like an American city. And Buenos Ares is safe like a sketchy American city. And I don’t feel singled out down there. And the only way you make yourself a mark is if you can’t speak any Spanish or Portuguese, and I don’t speak Portuguese, but I speak a little Spanish.
Dave: Any more traveling planned for this upcoming year?
Joey: Europe next year.
Spike: Australia. We’re going back to New Zealand. We play these crazy heavy metal festivals with Slayer and Ozzy. It’s like going to Bakersfield. That’s what Australia is like. Big gnarly…momma didn’t love em. peckerwoods that aren’t afraid of anything.
Dave: What about Amnesia rock fest in Quebec?
Joey: Ya, in Montebello. We’ve been there.
Dave: I’ve said this before, but I feel like you could go to Montebello and shoot a movie there that could take place at any time. Anywhere. 1400s…2000s…it just looks bare.
Joey: It’s pretty amazing.
Spike: Those are two of my favorite cities. Montreal and Quebec City. They’re the best. And then you get the Pepsi challenge in Canada. Do you wanna do the Anglo-casino model of Toronto. Or do you want the more Egalitarian continental European system – and do you know what Ontarians are choosing – They’re choosing Montreal. I was out at 1 am and I saw a guy in china town in Montreal vacuuming the street. Cleaning it up. And that wasn’t a city vehicle and that doesn’t happen anywhere else.
Dave: I’m obsessed with Montreal. I’m taking Christianne there in a few months. I went there for 2 weeks when I turned 18. It’s what we used to do in the suburbs in New England. It was like Vegas for kids like us. You could drink legally.
Spike: Full frontal nudity!
Dave: Ya and you could afford it back then. We would pack a whole crew into a two-bedroom suite, which back then cost like 75 Canadian which was like 40 bucks. And we had a concierge – what we thought was equivalent to a slave – Basically like a babysitter just doing our errands.
Spike: Toronto is all about knocking things down and Montreal is like a time warp of old neighborhoods. There are people outside. And not just miscreants — Everybody! Miscreants and regular people in the mix. I like it.
Dave: So in the spirit of the holidays, what’s the worst Christmas present you guys have got?
Joey: I had an aunt that used to make me sweaters with doves. And peace signs.
Dave: Did you save them?
Joey: No, but now I kind of wish I did. If I could still have those now, id cherish them.
Dave: You could pass them down to your children.
Spike: And you’d be offended that they didn’t like them.
Joey: When I was ten years old I hated this shirt, but you’re gonna love it!
Spike: My mom just keeps getting me these books about people starving in the dust bowl… or the depression… or you know Robert Oppenheimer… one time she sent me, Welcome to Hard Times. I love my mom, but goddam…
Joey: I like giving gifts more than getting them. I think there something really pleasant about getting someone something after you’ve really thought about it.
Dave: Are you good at it?
Joey: I think I’m really good at it. When I’m traveling and I think I found something that someone would really want, I just get it and hold onto it. Sometimes I forget about it and then I find it, and —
Spike: I’m terrible at giving gifts.
Joey: I’ll say this — across the board, a handmade gift is always better than something you buy. And I’m not an artist in that regard, by any means… I can barely make breakfast. But if someone paints you or makes you something, that’s the best.
Spike: Unless they suck.
Joey: Then that’s the worst, it’s terrible.
Dave: So aside from the tour, is there anything Janky readers should know about what’s coming up for you guys?
Spike: Los Nuevos Bajos- I got together with a bunch of Panamanian dudes and did boleros. And I sing in Spanish. And they told me even in the spots I don’t sound Spanish, I sound respectful…I try man. I’m a big mimic.
Dave: There’s a huge scene for that down in Orange County.
Spike: Sure, in Santa Ana. Do you guys know that truck “El Yaquii”.
Dave: I’ve been to a bunch. It’s hard to keep track.
Spike: Down in Santa Ana. There’s a taco truck called Marsicos el Yaqui. It’s so fucking good. You gotta wait, sometimes like a half hour, but it’s worth it. People go there and tail gate with lawn chairs and Micheladas.
Joey: We should go tomorrow.
Dave: Alright, thanks for sitting down with us guys. Now we’re hungry. We’re gonna go find street tacos.