The Accidental Life of Chixdiggit
Published Jan 01, 2006With the release of Pink Razors, Chixdiggit are re-introducing themselves to the Canadian punk rock scene after a long five-year silence. "We didn't really tour that much on [2000's] From Scene To Shining Scene, because we were starting to get a little burnt out," says singer and guitarist K.J. Jansen. "I think [with] our band, you have to have fun. We're not really an angry band, so if that comes out it doesn't really work. There were a few shows toward the end that were sort of a drag. So we decided to take a break." For a band that worked and toured as hard as Chixdiggit have in their 13-year career, disappearing from the music world for half a decade seems like crazy talk. But for a group that never intended to be a real band in the first place, it kind of makes sense.
"We only meant to do one show," K.J. says. "And then we got another one." Originally, there wasn't even a band to play in only a fictional one formed by K.J. and bassist Mike Eggermont; they invented Chixdiggit to sell T-shirts at their high school. Once they commenced playing, it didn't take long for them to grab the attention of some of punk's most notable players, including Bruce Pavitt, who signed the band to their first record deal with Sub Pop. Still, the band had modest expectations. "I don't think the goal was ever to sell a million records. We just wanted to play a couple of shows. Then the guys were like, I've never been to Europe before, I want to go there.' Next thing I know, we're talking to [NOFX front-man and Fat Wreck Chords label head] Fat Mike," recalls K.J. After a string of releases on Honest Don's, a subsidiary of Fat Wreck Chords, Pink Razors has found its home with Fat. Not only that, but the band was recently picked up by Sweden's Bad Taste Records for European distribution. All fairly significant developments for a band whose latest stage in their career seems to have come about just as accidentally as the first.
Thinking back on the beginnings of the band's five-year hiatus, K.J. remarks that "I kind of figured that it was pretty much over for me. I didn't think I was going to be on a stage anymore, and at the time I was okay with it. I thought we had a good run." Between the pressures of day jobs and demands of higher education, Chixdiggit were left to collect dust in the basements of Calgarian punk rock. Slowly but surely, however, the band's members found their way back to their instruments. "My girlfriend, Jason [Hirch, the group's original drummer], and I decided to start screwing around with some songs," K.J. says. "It just kind of snowballed from there. Again. When we stopped playing shows, no one was like Hey! What's going on?' Maybe the interest now is just nostalgia."
Pink Razors is not mere nostalgia, however. It's as strong as any of the band's previous releases, and possesses all the spirit of a brand new band who are genuinely excited about the music they're making. While nothing much has changed in the band's aggressively poppy, Ramones-influenced sound over the years, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Notes K.J., "We know our limitations. Believe me, we're not trying to make the same record. The songs I hear in my head are these beautiful masterpieces, with all these orchestras, but they end up sounding like "
Chixdiggit may not be reinventing the pop-punk wheel, but songs like the electronically-aided "Nobody Understands Me," whose verse features synthesised drum beats, show a slightly more adventurous spirit. "There were all these machines where we were recording, and we thought it was funny at the time. We weren't really playing the music, we were drawing it. You can draw music now," K.J says. "In my head, it sounded more like German techno with the beginning part of You Can't Always Get What You Want' by the Rolling Stones. This is what I mean by our limitations."
Despite hiatuses and an inability to recreate classic moments from Let It Bleed, Chixdiggit will remain Chixdiggit. "We are a band. We get drunk together all the time. It's like we're on tour all the time, just that a lot of it is spent at home [with occasional road trips]. We come back and we're still on tour, but we're just at home. That way everyone can keep their day jobs. I think day jobs have kept the band going. Day jobs make rock'n'roll awesome."