|K.J. Jansen of Chixdiggit. (All Cat Rose photos)|
Henry Rollins may be no fun, according to a Chixdiggit song, but the former Black Flag singer surely knows how to hold a microphone properly.
At Friday's Seattle gig at the Funhouse, Chixdiggit frontman K.J. Jansen's white Gibson SG rebelled against him with some broken strings and the singer had to go guitarless for two songs.
Jansen pulled it off and continued to work the crowd into a frenzy, but after the gig, he joked: "I hate that, I don't wanna do that again. A couple times it happens, but it's not my thing... I don't know, I can't dance. There's got to be on You Tube, a tutorial on how to wrap a microphone around your hand, and I'll take that tutorial. I should probably learn that, I should probably do a little bit of homework if we're gonna be doing this still."
|From left, Tyler Pickering, Mark O'Flaherty, James Gamble and Jansen.|
And the Calgary, Alberta, Canada, pop-punkers are still doing it well, about 21 years into their career.
On Friday, an enthusiastic crowd jammed onto the dance floor during the band's raucous set -- some folks threw beer cans on stage, slammed into each other and some even got rammed into the monitors and plowed head-first onto the small stage.
All the while, Jansen, lead guitarist Mark O'Flaherty, drummer Tyler Pickering and bassist James Gamble served up their infectious, spirited and humorous tunes, like "Spanish Fever," "I Should Have Played Football in High School," "I Wanna Hump You," "Gettin' Air" and much more.
"We did not expect this," said Jansen, whose band last played Seattle opening for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes seven years ago. "Somebody on the Internet was betting that nobody was gonna come tonight. I was like, 'Fuck, I kind of hope that happens,' just to see what happens, but it didn't -- we're a super lucky band."
Jeff Stone, former lead guitarist for the Best Kissers in the World, was on hand and smiled the whole time while watching his former tour mates.
"They're amazing!" he said. "It doesn't seem like anybody's aged at all, and that was a long time ago. They're awesome. I'd forgotten how great they are. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew I didn't wanna miss it."
Seattle is a special, memorable music city for Chixdiggit, which released its first album on Sub Pop Records back in the day. Jansen remembers playing great gigs with the Fastbacks, Best Kissers, Flop, Supersuckers, Presidents of the USA and Model Rockets.
Speaking of the Fastbacks, Jansen reveres the legendary band and was bummed he couldn't attend one of their reunion gigs in West Seattle and San Francisco about a year ago.
"They played these shows, and honestly, if I would have known, I would have been here," he said. "I saw pictures and I cried. I love Kim Warnick so much it's insane... she's the sweetest, fuckin' most awesome, talented, amazing person in the world-- that's bar-none."
Perhaps it's the spirit of bands like the Fastbacks that keeps Chixdiggit going. Jansen said they threw in the towel for a while after releasing "Pink Razors" in 2005 because the band had run its course.
But the band wouldn't die, and last year they dusted off their guitars and returned to the music world by releasing the "Safeways Here We Come" EP.
"When we started doing it again, every single thing, we're always totally surprised and totally charmed," Jansen said. "We're fucking lazy, we never do anything... and we don't deserve a night like this, but it happens. I don't mean to get all maudlin or anything."
"We still get to do this," he added. "We're in Seattle right now playing rock and roll-- still, you know? This shit should have ended years ago. I get to travel around with my best friend (O'Flaherty), get drunk and be a jackass and do interviews... it's like, fucked up."
Pickering and Gamble are new to the Chixdiggit fold, joining founders Jansen and O'Flaherty for the ride. (Jason Hirsch and Mike Eggermont were the original drummer and bassist, respectively; Dave Alcock drummed for six years and Kepi Ghoulie even handled bass duties for a spell.)
With some younger guys on board, Jansen said that he and O'Flaherty now call Chixdiggit tours "the father-and-son fishing trip." They all work regular jobs when they're not playing some Canadian gigs, traveling to Europe a few times a year and jumping into the U.S. for occasional shows. Next on their docket is a Calgary hometown New Year's show.
Jansen said road trips are a blast with the Chixdiggit guys.
"Every day is like today, you know? We show up, we walk around, we make stupid jokes and laugh, have dinner together. The shows are great and everything, but the all-day-long bullshit is just as good, if not better," he said.
And new songs are on the way, according to Jansen, who is married to Kathy Camaro of the pop-punk trio the Riff Randells. They have a 2-year-old girl, whom Jansen has been trying his new songs out on, believe it or not.
"So I have all these songs, cuz I just keep playing to her and she just loves it," he said. "They will be Chixdiggit songs, but they're all about diapers and poop now."
"I'll have to change the lyrics around a little bit -- that's the difficult part. I can't just get used to singing: 'I gotta diaper that needs changing.'"
In true Chixdiggit fashion, Jansen air guitars while singing those words. And he's smiling.
Sounds like a good one, however the lyrics end up.
EXTRA CHIX BITS:
Chixdiggit's first tour with the Best Kissers in the early '90s featured an "over-the-top food fight" on the last night in Sacramento that left both bands covered in beer, soda, eggs and more, Stone recalled.
Earlier that evening, Chixdiggit exacted revenge on the Best Kissers guys, who had been playing pranks on them the whole West Coast tour. The Best Kissers knew their van would be a target, so they parked it five blocks away in a residential neighborhood, hoping it would be safe.
"They looked and they looked and they were about to give up... and they found it and they just destroyed it," Stone said. "It was covered in blown-up condoms, duct tape and peanut butter-- just shit everywhere. You couldn't see out the windows."
Stone joked that he and another former Best Kisser who couldn't attend Friday's Seattle show "talked about just coming down here and just fucking up their van and then leaving."