Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah

BY Stuart GreenPublished Nov 1, 2004

When you’re a punk-rock super-group/novelty act that has already done themed albums of ’60s and ’70s, show tunes and R&B covers, what’s left for a fifth record? How about a live album? But like anything this band that features members of NOFX, Lagwagon, Foo Fighters and Swingin’ Utters does, this isn’t your regular live album. Recorded live off the floor at a celebration of a young Jewish boy’s passage into manhood, this record captures the band in their element: confusing pubescent teens, delighting 30-something delayed Gen-Xers and offending bubbies and zadies with this diverse collection of material that gives the punk rock business to everyone from Styx ("Come Sail Away”), Led Zeppelin ("Stairway to Heaven”) and the Beatles ("Strawberry Fields Forever”) to REO Speedwagon ("Take It On the Run”), Blondie ("Heart of Glass”) and even Helen Reddy ("Delta Dawn”) and the Carpenters ("Superstar”). Thrown in for tradition’s sake are "Hava Nagila” and "Auld Lang Syne.” Although edited from its original two-set length, the disc leaves in some of the many mistakes and false starts, which adds to the feeling of actually being there as the powder blue-tuxedoed punks fake their way through the evening. And if you don’t believe it, just check out the video footage of bewildered partygoers. Hilarious.

Was this a real Bar Mitzvah? Singer Spike Slawson: Yes and it was kind of awkward. We decided to do a whole record worth of new material for the show and we only practiced for four days. It ended up we weren’t very well practiced. I remember feeling really nervous, more so than any show I’ve ever played. But at the end of it I couldn’t help thinking what a great idea it was. You can’t duplicate that awkwardness or spontaneity on a regular record.

Who is Jonny Wixen and did you really ruin his big day? He’s Fat Mike’s publishing attorney’s kid or something. I think he had a pretty good time. That might be pending the release of the record because there might have been jokes at his expense he didn’t hear but I think all in all he had a pretty good time. It was great; it had an ice cream bar and a really nice dinner. He even played drums on the last song.

How long can you keep this joke going? As far as I’m concerned — indefinitely. The other guys seem to think the same thing, as long as you change the paradigm. That’s why the bar mitzvah was such a great idea. The joke is always in the back of your mind but you never forget where the live thing is and as long as you change it up then it’s fresh and funny. There’s a finite amount of time you can just cover songs and it would stay interesting. You have to keep it interesting and that’s what playing live does.
(Fat Wreck)

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