Chixdiggit Safeways Here We Come

Chixdiggit Safeways Here We Come
It's been a dark half-decade in the world of pop-fuelled punk rock. While one could theorize endlessly on causes (horrible bands, deflated support from fans and such), the truth has become resoundingly clear: we've suffered from a dire lack of the tongue-in-cheek humour, simplistic riffs, infectious harmonies and the bouncy thrill of Calgary, AB's most viscous export, Chixdiggit! Finally breaking the long silence since 2005 full-length Pink Razors, the quartet issue seven more bouts of buoyancy, documenting everything from flirtations with strangers to pet ownership, organized sports and other seemingly banal, yet observationally ingenious, bits of life on this evanescent EP. Moreover, there's an irrefutable resurgence of an essential Chixdiggit! feeling that fell just shy on Safeways Here We Come's strong, yet humble, predecessor. From opener "Miso Ramen" and its animated verses and choruses through the Ramones-worthy "Swedish Rat" to cow-punk blast "Hot N Heavy," these tracks feel invigorated and fun, rebounding with the band's inimitable bubblegum-infused energy, as opposed to going through the motions with obligation-fuelled indifference. While Chixdiggit! have never been guilty of dropping the ball or altering their inherent tried-and-true formula, if Pink Razors was a modest stumble in their shining legacy, Safeways Here We Come is an infectiously robust recovery.

Something sounds different with you guys on Safeways Here We Come.
Guitarist/vocalist K.J. Jansen: It's fun again; it stopped being fun ten years ago, so we took a couple of years off. That's been our biggest goal: keeping it something we like to do.

What exactly motivated making this EP after such a long hiatus?
The opportunity just arose and we had to make a decision to take it or leave it. We just did it because the producer only had a little bit of time. We wondered if we should do it immediately or wait, [but] it all worked out. Then, a lot of really cool things came out of it. We got invited to do shows with Screeching Weasel, Europe and other stuff; it's working out and we've had good luck, in that way. Being open to things kind of works out sometimes.

Sounds like a weird ducks-in-a-row situation. Sometimes working too hard at something makes it an uphill battle, whereas saying "screw it" lets it flow.
You know, Fat Mike always said to us, "Whatever you do in life, don't try." It was good advice, 'cause things seem to work out if you don't try too hard and let it happen.

There's sincere anticipation about this EP; it's like everybody loves you.
Oh, I don't know about that; I know we all like each other.

That's kind of important, isn't it?
Yeah, but so many bands don't have that. There are a couple of guys they tolerate. Unless I'm that guy...

You've got European dates coming up, but there don't seem to be any Canadian ones.
Some people are bummed about that and the truthful, non-sexy side of it is that we won't be driving across Canada again unless we win the lottery and can take an unlimited amount of time off. We've probably driven across the country 20 times. We're still going to fly in for shows, but we'll have to plan it more.

That was scary for a minute; it sounded like you meant, "no more shows anywhere."
No, it's just scheduling, figuring when we can get out there, but it's in the plans. Everywhere in Canada is once we work it out.

No old school dudes hopping in the van?
I'd love to be able to do that, but it takes effort and energy. The fact that we're able to do it and still have lives outside of it is important. It's an art, too.

That's the key to the band being energized? You've found the balance between music and personal life.
You have to do that with everything in life. When we were talking about the last record, I was saying how we had day jobs because we have to, but they also make rock'n'roll more fun. If we did rock'n'roll all the time, we'd hate it. We did that and we hated it, but a band like ours have to be fun in order for it to work, so maintaining that balance is a big part. When I was talking about jobs last time, I found out a bunch of people were bummed we have day jobs. I guess they thought it took away from the mystique of the band. Maybe we're the only band that talk about it, but a lot of bands do. Some pretty big bands, too.

It sounds like you needed to get away from music and miss it.
There was a point where I was done with it and thought to myself, "That's probably the last time I'll be onstage" and was fine with it. Then we started messing around again and rediscovered the fun part: hanging out. That was always the best part and it's the most important part now. When we practice, we'll have a three-hour practice, but two of those are hanging out watching TV or something. That's what we lost sight of when started to hate it; it was something we had to do, as opposed to what we wanted to do.

That makes sense. How many bands have you seen that are great but once it becomes their job, well, nobody really loves their job.
No, but everybody in a band starts by just loving music. Even the punkest kid, it's really about the music, even if they don't admit it. If you let that be taken away from you, what do you have? It's your favourite thing.

How did these songs come to be then, given the rush to record?
It was a recent flow; it may sound corny, but when my daughter was born, I was spending a lot of time with her, playing guitar to her 'cause she responded to that. A lot of the songs, the lyrics were about diapers and stuff. I had to change them 'cause nobody wants to hear a record about baby poo. That's when the songs came out, so when we went into the studio, we had 18 or 19 songs to work from. It had been five years since the last one, so we're opting to put things out a little more frequently – do EPs for a while.

Your child is your muse!
Yeah, there's the cynical side that smirks at the outside realm though. I put that with the family and make music, as it were.

"Since You Got A Dog" sounds too cynical and genuine to be something fictitious.
That is very real; it's about a friend we want to spend time with, but we can't 'cause he's got a fuckin' dog. Some people get weirder with dogs than they do with kids.

You're planning on doing a string of releases?
It looks that way; we are kind of lazy. Sometimes when we get home from tour, it's back to everything else; we don't think about recording or stuff – just getting into the studio, it's tough. With five or six songs though, it's quick, easy and not as painful. That's maybe a strong word – less pressure. We can do it more often and by the time we do the next one we'll have more songs. We write one or two at every jam. There's obviously some crap in there though.

With a plan, feeling creative and everything flowing, it sounds like you're all in a good place.
I think it's because everyone's found a place for the band in their lives. A few years ago, it was tough; we had school or work. Everybody loves doing it again. Playing the shows is fun. If it wasn't fun we wouldn't do it.

It's great how you seem to have found the balance between family life and band life.
Balance is as important as everything else. You have to have that in order for the other aspects to be there, not to discount the importance of family, know what I mean? Man, this sounds like something for Canadian Living, not a punk rock interview.

Baby Poo and Moderation.
Exactly! "Our readers want to know..." (Fat Wreck)