Rookie Card frontman Adam Gimbel's first band PEN13 (“I refused to be in a band called PEN15”) included his co-workers at Tower Records; Laurie Ann Coda, Mike Carnivale, and Brian Vanella. “It wasn’t a cover band, but we did a few. When we played our first and only real show, in Jason Pratt’s barn, we opened with the Replacements’ ‘Hootennany’ and, when we went into the first note, my guitar strap broke. A fitting beginning to my lackluster musical career.”
Gimbel later founded Cover Me Badd, which mocks certain genres and bands with painfully faithful "tribute band" performances. Among CMB's many incarnations: the Fookin' Wankers (spoofing Oasis), Geezer (old men performing Weezer songs), Wookie Card (Rookie Card dressed as Star Wars characters), Rabbi Gimbel's Jews Explosion (Hebrew rock history), Lil Strummer Orchestra (street corner–style Clash sing-alongs), and Rookie Ricardo, El Vez's onetime wedding backing band (they played a song with El Vez at his wedding).
One CMB project, the Depeche Mode–inspired Blasphemous Guitars, has waged online war against a more straight-faced tribute. “Blasphemous Rumours is an L.A. Depeche Mode copycat band that proves yet again that most tribute bands have zero creativity,” says Gimbel. “Now, Blasphemous Guitars gets confused with their name all the time. Still, the feuding was worth it, just to hear their singer tell me that no one would confuse us with them because they were ‘much more grand.’”
Blasphemous Guitars earned a nomination for a 2007 San Diego Music Award as Best Cover, Tribute or Bar Band.
After recording Blasphemous Guitars Live 2005, Gimbel says he met former Depeche Mode keyboardist Alan Wilder. “In getting asked to chauffeur him to and from M-Theory for an in-store signing, I thought about giving him a copy of this recording from when we first started and only did DM songs. Glad I didn’t. Though, it would’ve been funny to have it playing when he got in.”
Having dived into the tribute subculture with his rotating groups, Gimbel says the world of tribute acts is a strange but lucrative scene filled with musicians trying to get famous pretending to be other people. He gained some insight to the tribute mindset when Blasphemous Guitars shared a bill with a U2 tribute band named Joshua Tree.
“We were going to have a girl do this burlesque thing, and Joshua Tree’s manager told us, ‘I can’t have her near my Bono because his girlfriend gets really jealous.’ Just hearing the manager refer to the singer as my Bono was good enough for me! Then the band comes out and they’re so serious. You can’t even look for more than a minute because it’s so creepy how much they’re into it.”
In 2010, Gimbel and company were doing a monthly trivia contest (Musical Pursuit) and another event they call anti-karaoke night (Too Cool For Karaoke). Later that year, they were nominated for another San Diego Music Award.
Gimbel also happens to be an ordained minister, capable of performing weddings. “I'm not a real rabbi, but the city allows you to have a temporary license to be a deputy marriage commissioner and perform weddings.”