Big Lead Sports Bar


Mondesi Interview: Me First & the Gimme Gimmes

On Thursday, August 24, the Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off a three-night set of Skyblast fireworks shows set to the live music of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The Gimmes are a San Francisco-based punk rock cover band, and their playlist for the evening included their rendition of "Stairway to Heaven", among other classics.
Needless to say, the Pittsburgh crowd didn't appreciate this musical angle, and booed the Gimmes throughout the performance. The response was so bad that the Pirates fired the band for the remaining two nights and replaced them with recorded music.
The band's lead singer is Spike Slawson. Spike actually grew up in Pittsburgh and has Heinz Ketchup and Steeler tattoos. He seemed to me like a nice guy who was simply booked for the wrong event by the Pirates, based on what I read on him in the days following their performance. While I find it hard to believe that the Pirates could make any mistake in judgment, I thought Slawson was getting a bit of a raw deal, and that the Pirates should be the ones on the hook for booking the band in the first place.
Looking to wrong this injustice, I was able to get an interview with Slawson, and his answers are below. I am not a punk rock fan by any means, but I certainly respect other people's tastes. The Gimmes have a large following, and I thought it would be fair to give Slawson a forum to air out his side of the story...
The Gimmes in action

Mondesi's House: What was your first impression of the idea once the Pirates approached you?

Spike Slawson: I had strong misgivings about it. I couldn't imagine what would be worse, being booed by tens of thousands of sports fans, or cheered. Mike (our bass player/band leader) who enjoys putting us in extremely awkward live situations, was thrilled.

MH: How hard was it to continue the set once the booing began?

SS: A cover band must always remain professional. Remember the band on the Titanic? Right when the booing started I looked over at Mike and he smiled and yelled above the boos, "What did you expect? This is huge! It's the best thing that could have happened!" From lemons, lemonade.

MH: Are you at all upset at the Pirates for what happened, that they would book you for such an event? Or did it end up getting you some new fans in a roundabout way?

SS: No, I am not upset at the Pirates for hiring us. I was a little irked about being fired, however...
I doubt we have any more fans because of the incident. What's the opposite of fan?

MH: How does that crowd rank among the largest you've played?

SS: I think it was the biggest. Definitely the most I've ever been booed by.

MH: Are you surprised at all the publicity about a promotion? Usually fireworks night doesn't generate such news!

SS: I figured kind of a little buzz around town, though, not the front f****** page.

MH: What are your best memories of Pittsburgh?

SS: Shadyside growing up, the Strip shopping for meat and fish with my folks, Movies on Flagstaff Hill, the Electric Banana (now Zarra's), Late Summer into Fall, showing my San Francisco girlfriend all these places years later.

MH: Did you watch the Super Bowl, and if so, where?

SS: I watched the superbowl at Mike LaVella's house in Alameda, CA. He was the bass player for Half-Life, a pretty famous Pittsburgh punk band. He had a couple cases of Iron City shipped out, and decked his house out with a bunch of cheesy Steelers paraphernalia, too.

MH: Do you ever make it back to the city? What are your favorite places to go?

SS: I don't make it back as often as I'd like, but when I do I like going to the War Streets, the Strip, Aiello's pizza, the Southside, Brave New World records on S. Craig in Oakland, Immortal Tattoo on S. Highland, Time Bomb also on S. Highland, or just wandering around Shadyside.

MH: Did you really get booed in Little League?

SS: My parents think that it was because my eyesight was starting to go--I wear high prescription glasses now--but, yeah, the kids, and maybe even some of the parents jeered me off the field on my first day of little league. Pretty f****** disgraceful, huh? Seriously, I relived a lifetime of Pittsburgh disfavor during that half hour at PNC park. And with fireworks

MH: Would you ever do a sports event again?

SS: If you could guarantee me the same results, yes.

MH: What was your last Pittsburgh show prior to Skyblast?

SS: My last Pittsburgh show didn't happen. A few years ago my other band, the Swingin Utters, had cracked the leaf plate on our trailer on our way to New York City, and we had to find somebody to fix it in New York on a Sunday. Then I got the news that sometime in the wee hours of the morning our drunk guitar player had left all of the band's money in the trunk of a taxi cab, so we had to call every dispatcher in town, every police precinct, etc. New York is great and everything, just don't ever be vulnerable there, 'cos hungry vultures will start circling your wagon (or in our case, RV). Anyway, by the time we got close to Pittsburgh (the only town I really cared about being in on the whole tour) the show had been cancelled and I spent the night in the RV, in the parking lot of a Super 8 outside Clarion. The time before that we played a half-empty Club Laga.

MH: When do you think the Pirates will win again?

SS: Right before next year's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes annual PNC park fireworks extravaganza, of course!


Anonymous said...

if there is ever a Mondesi's House Party, these guys need to be booked as the house band.

Anonymous said...

i concur.

SAMO said...

Nice interview!

Anonymous said...

I was at Sky Blast the flollowing game night and was disappointed the band was fired. "The Burgh" is a traditional town, but come on now Pirate's fans yoinz gotta root for da punk band n' dat or what, giv em' a chance let them finish their business with da Steel town!!!

Anonymous said...

I boo Pittsburg, boo BOO BOO!

Anonymous said...

Instead of booing "Pittsburg", you should learn how to spell "Pittsburgh" dude! haha

Yeah, I'm pretty familiar with punk rock and the Gimmes. I said when this happened that this is a cool band that got stuck in front of the wrong crowd, that's all.

You have them play those same songs the same way in front of a punk rock crowd, and things would go MUCH better.

But hey, they got paid a handsome sum to piss off a large amount of people. And that's pretty much what punk rock is all about.

Anonymous said...

"ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

the bucs should've pimped his 'burgh connection. that, or gotten Anti-Flag to play ;)

Anonymous said...

I love the Gimme's but it's not surprising that a Pittsburgh crowd wouldn't dig them. I wish there was video of the performance.

Anyone know if they got paid for the two nights they weren't allowed to play?

Anonymous said...

I also am a Gimmies fan.

This is rather funny actually. My coworker, a rather conservative young lady, watched Sky Blast and told me the day after how bad this "cover band" was that was playing, and that they were being booed. NOW i find out it was beloved Gimmies.

The PA announcer should have said featuring the lead singer from Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

now i know that all people in pitt are freakin idiots. Firing the Gimmes???? You people and your cheeseheads, jeezzz.......

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh fans got no imagination. If Red Sox fans could embrace the Dropkick Murphys' cover of "Tessie" as a fight song, yinzers ought to be able to sit still through a punk "Stairway."

No class, I tell ya.

Anonymous said...

You Pittsburgh people make me sick. Rude son of a bitches. Never boo anyone ESPECIALLY THE GIMMES, it's just plain disrespectful.

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