LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2014 — Bob Oedy is the guitar player for the San Fernando punk band, The Grim. The band has broken up and gotten back together a few times since their beginning in 1983. This year, The Grim will be playing the kick-off party for Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. Bob Oedy is a Punk Rock Bowling veteran and has written a book to help fans get the most out of their three-day weekend in Vegas called, The Punk Rock Las Vegas Survival Guide. The book includes interviews, stories, and tips on what to see and do outside of just drinking and going to punk shows. Bob Oedy took some time to speak with Wells On Music about his band, The Grim, and his new book.
Kevin Wells: How did you initially get into punk music?
Bob Oedy: I was a KISS fan and going to big rock concerts and then I got invited to see the Dead Kennedys at the Whiskey-a-go-go with some friends of mine. We all went. I drove and when we got there it just blew my mind, just being that close to a major band. Right from that point on, I was like that’s it, man. I’m just so into this. The whole experience of being close to the band. Jello Biafra was jumping into the audience and going over our heads. You know, just that feel of being at an intimate concert, it just stuck with me.
KW: Were you already playing guitar at that point?
BO: Yeah, I was playing guitar, but not very well. I knew enough to do bar chords. When I first started seeing punk rock, I was like oh, yeah. This it, man. I can do this. [laughs] I can contribute! [laughs]
KW: Was The Grim your first band?
BO: Before The Grim, it was called Secret Affair, not the English ska band. We played some shows. We did one with Circle One and we played a couple other shows at a party and that’s it. Then our drummer at the time quit. He had some girlfriend who didn’t want to be associated with a punk. So, he got out of it. Even to this day, he just contacted me through Facebook and said, “Aw, man that was the biggest mistake of my life.” [laughs] From the start, we started writing our own songs. We never really played cover songs until the 90s. All through the 80s, we just wrote our own songs and made it up as we went along.
KW: Why did The Grim initially break up?
BO: It was a lot of things. Touring was really difficult. We did a tour with NoFX and Scared Straight and oh, god, it was just difficult. We were playing the [San Fernando] Valley and we would play these parties. They were just outrageous with huge amounts of people at these parties. And then we go on the road and we play these tiny shows. Sometimes you’d get paid and sometimes you wouldn’t. You’re sleeping on people’s floors. The whole thing was just very difficult. It was hard to make it pencil out.
I got into an apprenticeship program right about the time we should have gone to Europe. There were just things like that. It just kind of happened that way. We broke up, we got back together, we broke up and got back together. We got back together again in 1999 or 2000 and we played a huge show at Cox Arena with Weezer and Blink-182. That was kind of huge. We had some big shows. We had some successes along the way too, but we’d break up and get back together a few years later. This last time, about four years ago, we did it with a couple different people and everything from that point on seemed real smooth. Now we’ve been playing regularly for the last four years.
KW: Will The Grim be releasing any new material?
BO: We’ve written some new songs. We haven’t really recorded them yet. We’re gonna work on that right after Punk Rock Bowling. We’ll go in the studio. Mystic Records did put our original material on CD finally. It was only on vinyl for a long time. We’re looking forward to doing some recording. We play our new songs and mix them into the set now.
KW: Another band you are in that is recently back together is Glue Gun. I hear there is a new Glue Gun record in the works.
BO: Not really. [laughs] We put out two records and we do play some shows from time to time. Last year we played Nard Fest, which was a pretty good show. All the guys that are in the band are in other bands as well. It’s hard to schedule shows because everyone is in multiple bands. When we can, we play shows. I keep writing. I continue to write all the time. We’ve got a lot of material.
KW: It seems as though nearly every band from the San Fernando Valley is comprised of members of other punk bands from the San Fernando Valley. It’s kind of like a huge incestuous punk rock family. Why do you think this is?
BO: You’re absolutely right. It’s funny because everybody kind of stuck it out, but nobody wants to do just one. It’s almost like if you started a new band and it’s like, this is cool, but I still got this old band and we still play once in a while. Even in the book, a lot of the bands that contributed to the book are in different bands. The guitarist for COA [Cholos On Acid] also plays in Glue Gun, also plays in Bad Samaritans.
READ ALSO: Interview: Cholos On Acid singer, Horhay Coa
KW: The Grim will be playing at Punk Rock Bowling this year, right?
BO: That’s right, on the 23rd with Poison Idea and The Freeze. That’s like the kick-off of Punk Rock Bowling.
KW: What made you want to write this book, The Punk Rock Las Vegas Survival Guide?
BO: I’ve been going every year since 2005 or 2006. I have a blast every single year. Last year, we checked out of the room and got in the car. We’re driving out of town and my girlfriend’s like, “We had so much fun. You should write a book about this.” A lot of our friends were there, but they didn’t do a lot of the things we do. We don’t just do the shows. Some people go to Punk Rock Bowling and they just drink and go to the shows and that’s it.
We go to the festival. We go to the club shows. We hang out at the pool and then we also get away from it all and go to KISS Monster Mini Golf. We go to the pinball hall of fame and all the other fun things that are in town too. I really think we get a more well-rounded experience of the whole event. We don’t just trash ourselves. We kind of pace ourselves. I just thought I would love to write a book about this.
I’ve written other books that are a lot more serious. I write career success books. This is my first book and I wanted to write one that’s fun and it has been. I had a blast writing it. I get to include all my friends and promote their bands. Of course, I promote my own in there. I’m not gonna hide from that. I actually spend a lot of my time talking about Punk Rock Bowling. I’m constantly telling people about it.
KW: The dedication of the book to Jim Cherry was rad. I was really stoked to see that. I am a big fan of Jim Cherry and his music.
BO: He was a big supporter of mine. I could go on and on about Jim, man. He was just a big supporter of mine. I didn’t make it to his funeral. I always felt bad about that. So, I got the chance to dedicate it to him. I heard back from his widow and she was very grateful for it. Before he started Zero Down, he contacted me and wanted me to sing for a band with him. He was writing some tunes and we kind of worked on some stuff, but at the time my kid was five. I had just gotten divorced. I was working 60, 70 hours a week. I don’t know. There was just no way to pull it off. He set up like three different practices and I had to cancel all three practices. It was like, this isn’t gonna work, man. It was a bummer.
KW: For people who are making their first trip to Punk Rock Bowling, what can they expect?
BO: It’s changed over the years. Now, it’s a big event. You’re gonna check into your hotel and you’re gonna see a whole lot of punks inside the hotel. When you go down to the pool, there’s gonna be families there, but it’s gonna be a lot of people from the punk community. Everybody’s there to have a good time and you can expect to be welcomed almost immediately. That’s one thing I love about Punk Rock Bowling. The first time I went, I went by myself. I bumped into a friend of mine and he introduced me to some people. He was like, “Hey, Bob, you’ve got a ticket for this show. Why don’t you hang out with these people and go to the show with them?” They just instantly accepted me.
I went to the show with them and had one of the best times I ever had. I wasn’t expecting it either because the band I went to see was called Riverboat Gamblers. They didn’t even sound that punk to me. I [didn’t] even know if I wanted to go to that show, but I went with these people and just had a blast and I loved that band. It turns out it’s one of my favorite bands now. I was just blown away. Instantly accepted. Instantly welcomed into the community. It’s not like I got a mohawk or anything like that. I’m just an old punk who plays in a band from way back when, you know?
KW: What is the most common mistake kids make when making the trek to Punk Rock Bowling?
BO: I see a lot of people that try to do too much. [laughs]. You can only go to so many shows, man. Also, it’s a desert. You gotta hydrate, man. You gotta drink water at some point. And some people, they just get drunk and overdo it. You gotta pace yourself and make sure you hydrate and have a plan. If you bought all the tickets, you’ve got overlapping shows. You just don’t want to be running around all stressed out all weekend. The weekend goes by so fast. Las Vegas has the best of everything. You might as well eat the good food. There’s no reason to go to McDonald’s in Vegas. They’ve got the best of everything. Take it all in and enjoy yourself.
KW: What is one thing that all punks should do while at Punk Rock Bowling?
BO: KISS Monster Mini Golf. I’m a KISS fan, but, yeah. I just love that. It’s the perfect kick in the ass. Also the pool at the Golden Nugget. How often are you gonna get the chance to take a water slide through a shark tank? It’s pretty cool. And then walk 15 steps to the bar and get a margarita. It’s like the greatest thing ever.
KW: Where can people buy the book?
BO: The book is available on Amazon, the e-book version for the Kindle. You can buy it on Smashwords, as well. I am going to release the print copy on the 23rd. The day [The Grim] plays punk rock bowling is when it will be released. We’re gonna have a booth there at Punk Rock Bowling, Booth #9, which is The Grim merch booth, and I’m gonna have them there at the festival all three days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Every copy comes signed and numbered and it comes with a dozen stickers from various punk bands.
KW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you or anything you are working on?
BO: Well, we’re looking forward to the show, no doubt about it. It’s a big show and Punk Rock Bowling is just an awesome event. I’m gonna bowl there this year. I’m gonna be there working on my next book as well. I’m gonna do a follow up on this one because I just love it. I could write forever on this subject.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball
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