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Punk Rock Bowling interview: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes bassist Fat Mike Burkett

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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes play Fremont Country Club late Sunday night.
Chris Bitonti

The Details

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
May 26, 1:10 a.m.
Fremont Country Club, punkrockbowling.com

Have you ever missed a Punk Rock Bowling festival?

I don’t think so. I think it’s either the Gimmes or NOFX every year. The Gimmes played the first year when there were only 26 teams.

Last year you headlined the outdoor fest with NOFX, and this year you’re doing a club set with the Gimmes. Do you prefer a festival set versus a club show?

Oh, I don’t care. I mean, I like club shows and festivals both; they’re just like a different vibe, but I like ’em both.

Are you bowling this year?

Yes. Actually, I’m a defending champion. We won in 2010.

Who’s on your team?

Me and three people who work at Fat Wreck Chords: Mark, Chad and Dave. And no one is particularly a good bowler, but that year, we just all bowled well. We all average, like, 150-165, but if we all bowl our best game and the other team doesn’t bowl that well and you just keep doing that, you can win.

Last year NOFX played Punk in Drublic from start to finish.

We just wanted to do something different. We don’t usually do that and you know a lot of people at Punk Rock Bowling are older folks. So they probably know that record more than our new records.

Basically, we just do whatever we want. I change the setlist before every show, so the band does not know what we’re playing until we do it, and that’s usually about an hour before the show. I don’t throw in songs that no one knows how to play, [but] there’s about a hundred songs we know how to play.

Is there any reason you do it that way?

It keeps it keeps it fresh, but it also keeps it so that we’re probably gonna make more mistakes.

Do you still have a home in Las Vegas?

Yeah, I still do.

Why did you decide to get a place here?

Well, I was just out there, f*ckin’ around, looking at the real estate market, and you can get a gnarly house for nothing out there. So I thought it’d be cool to have a house that I made super punk rock and made just the funnest place ever and people would rent it out and stay there. And we have a little museum there, a little punk rock museum.

Where is it?

It’s around Desert Inn right past Decatur. It’s called Vegas Punk House—look it up.

How often do you make it out to Vegas?

Oh, three or four times a year. It’s funny, because the house definitely houses different groups of people. my girlfriend [Soma Snakeoil] and I always come out for the AVN awards, and we’ll have both crazy BDSM parties and we’ll have crazy punk parties. So it’s got all kinds of sh*t.

I know you had opened what you called a B&D, Bed and Dungeon, in LA. Does the Punk House have a dungeon?

Not as much, its not really a dungeon, it’s just got some equipment.

Do you have a favorite spot for BDSM in Vegas, like any clubs?

That’s part of what we got the house for. We have the backyard that’s walled in, with a pool and a water slide and it’s perfect for when we have parties there. You can really do what you want and no one’s gonna bother you. And that’s something you don’t get to do at other places you know, bondage in a pool.

Is the pool your preferred location for BDSM? I heard you were a fan of planes …

(Laughs) Yeah, we do planes. We just did a plane scene recently. It was fun.

How has the business model for Fat Wreck Chords changed as the music industry in general has changed?

Well, we had to start being more creative and introducing cooler products for people. Because it doesn’t even matter how good a record is; you just can’t slap it on a CD and put it in stores and expect it to sell out of copies. So at Fat Wreck Chords offices, we opened up a store, a Fat Wreck Chords store, I don’t know if you’ve heard about that.

Yeah, I had heard something. You have some weird hours though, right?

Every other Friday for three hours. But it’s free drinks, free beer and we have bands play sometimes. And we sell rare records and cheap records and everything. It’s really neat, because it turns into, like, a scene and people show up just because it’s, well, because it’s free beer and it’s a community and we’ll put out a cool record. Like, we’ll put out a hundred copies of a record that has the Fat Wreck Chords store logo on there, and everyone wants one. It’s being more creative than just putting out CDs.

Have vinyl sales become a larger part of what you sell?

It’s maybe 10 or 15 percent, but it used to be 3 or 4 percent, so record sales are definitely going up and CD sales are going down. But CD sales still dominate. They still dominate online. CDs are probably 50-60 percent of our business.

Do you shop for talent at PRB?

Nope. I don’t do that. I don’t send feelers out or anything. If the band is good, I always figure I’ll probably hear of them or they’ll send me something. I don’t go out searching.

Is there anyone on the lineup you’re just personally interested in seeing?

Oh yeah, so many bands. This is a really good year. I’m gonna see a lot of the old bands for sure. Flag, of course, and Devo. And there’s a couple smaller shows—The Crowd, and I think there’s some really old-school LA bands playing.

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