Nardwuar The Human Serviette vs. Chi Pig
On June 24, 2005, I was honoured to do a phone interview with Chi Pig for my Radio Show on CiTR Fm 101.9 in Vancouver, BC Canada.
R.i.p Chi Pig of SNFU
Nardwuar: Who are you?
Chi Pig: I’m Mr. Chi Pig. And I come from nowhere.
But you found CiTR thank you for finding CiTR Chi Pig. I appreciate that.
Oh no problem.
You’ve been trying for an hour at the wrong number but finally we got ahold of you.
It was meant to be, you know how it is.
And you are Chi Pig of SNFU and Chi Pig we also played, while waiting for you, some Malibu Kens!
Oh rad! The single, I imagine?
No not the single, the track from the “It Came From InnerSpace” compilation album.
Oh what was the name of the song you played?
“Party’s Over” by the Malibu Kens.
Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah…I went to high school with the Malibu Ken that wrote that song and who turned out to be Blake Cheetah, who became the bass god for Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra.
Were the Malibu Kens also related in some way to Jr. Gone Wild?
Malibu Kens became Jr. Gone Wild later. Mike McDonald was cursed with that name at birth. Mike McDonald not to be confused with Doobie bro, Mike McDonald. Mike McDonald was the singer of Malibu Kens and he called himself Mike Sinatra, at the time. And actually Mike Sinatra, claims that Frank Sinatra’s people claimed to break his legs if he didn’t change his name. So he changed his name.
Did you do the cover artwork for the Malibu Kens seven inch?
No, no I laid out their posters for them on the inside.
Ah well I’m glad you were able to clarify that because I was saying you did the cover art. So I’m so happy that you phoned in, and again we’re speaking to Chi pig from SNFU.
If you look down in the corner you’ll see I signed with my real name. What was I thinking back then?
That was the Malibu Kens seven inch as helped put together by Chi Pig of SNFU. And speaking of bands getting back together–well actually you’ve never really left us, did you? Did SNFU ever break up?
We took time off, SNFU doesn’t die until I die.
So was there ever a last gig?
There was an official last gig in August of ‘89 and that lasted for about two years.
And of that August ‘89 lineup who is playing tomorrow night at Seylynn Hall in North Vancouver?
Mr. Chi Pig and the original guitar player Marc Belke. That’s been the genesis of the band the whole time, because Marc writes 80% of the music. We’re the Lennon and McCartney of punk rock.
And Chi Pig, next week the Subhumans, the legendary Vancouver punk band, the Subhumans are getting back together.
I wish I could see that, but I’m going to be out of town.
Now, drumming for them will be Jon Card, he was in SNFU at one time, wasn’t he?
Yes, he was on the “If You Swear, You’ll Catch No Fish” record, and he toured with us, he was with us for about a year and a half.
Did you ever play with the original Subhumans?
Yes, we did.
Where was that? Was that in Edmonton?
I believe we did a show with them in Edmonton, yes.
And when did you guys first play Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Chi Pig?
My furthest recollection would be 1984 New York Theatre.
What was the reception like? How did bands from Alberta go over in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada?
Well, because we were SNFU and we had a record out already. It was pretty amazing. It was really good. Jason Priestley with a mohawk was in the audience.
You’re sure of that?
I’m sure of that because he told me that in a drunken state years later.
What did you look like back then Chi Pig of SNFU? What did you look like back then?
I had the shaved back and sides haircut dyed blonde with dreadlocks and I would slice it in the air like slicing knives through butter.
The first time I heard SNFU, believe it or not, was from the “It Came From The Pit” compilation. I was a bit late, but “It Came From The Pit” compilation, released on the Psyche Industry Records label with the song “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”. Who else has done “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, like Linda Ronstadt, what is that originally “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”?
CP: It’s a Warren Zevon song, Warren Zevon wrote it.
And who else has done it? SNFU has done it, I know Linda Ronstadt has done it, do you know anybody else that has done “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”?
Not that I know of, but it’s a pretty good song. We did it, not because of Linda in her roller skates, but because of Warren because Warren writes great songs.
Are you going to be doing “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” tomorrow night at Seylynn Hall?
That is one of the covers we haven’t redone. Actually, we’ll be playing no cover tunes on Saturday.
No cover tunes! What cover tunes have you done in past Chi Pig of SNFU?
“Uncontrollable Urge” by Devo and “Wild World” by Cat Stevens,“Poor Poor Pitiful Me” “Gimme Some Water” by Eddie Money and countless others.
Chi Pig from SNFU, another thing that’s drilled into my mind, has nothing to do with SNFU, it has something to do with your other band The Wongs, when did The Wongs form?
The Wongs were an entity from 1990 to 1991. A one year program.
And you played that big, famous gig that happened at the Commodore Ballroom in 1991. It was you guys, the Doughboys, Nirvana and Screaming Trees? I think I mentioned to you just a little while back that I interviewed the Doughboys that day, and I remember they were kinda upset that they had to open for Nirvana that night. What do you remember about that gig? The Wongs, Doughboys, Nirvana, Screaming Trees gig.
I remember it was pretty fun, and we smoked some weed in the back. And yeah, the Doughboys opened. Screaming Trees headlined, but people started leaving while the Screaming Trees played. And there was a little quip of mine on stage. I said “stay tuned for the Toiletries” as opposed to the Screaming Trees. And Mr. Screaming Tree himself came up to me later and asked me what the hell I was saying and asked me if it was a joke. And I said “yes, it was a joke”. He said, “Oh, I thought you had a chip on your shoulder” and I said, “Well, I do. But I have a full bag as well.”
Baboom! What about the Doughboys, Chi Pig?
I know those guys and you know what, they were huge Nirvana fans and I think only one of the Doughboys was against opening, but the other guy Jonathan who was the genuine songwriter of the band, the Paul McCartney of the band. He was just enamoured with Nirvana. He just was honored to be with them.
Well, that’s good to hear it. However, Chi Pig, how many gigs did you play at the LA Olympic with SNFU that was like a giant ex boxing ring.
Oh you know what, we never played the Olympic we played the other place. We played Fender’s Ballroom which was half the size, but just as violent.
I saw a flyer though, it said SNFU view at the Olympic, did that gig not happen?
That gig did not happen. You know why that gig did not happen? Because the engine fell out of our van and between Vancouver and Portland and we went back home.
Oh no and that was gonna be a huge gig, like Dead Kennedys at the Olympics. How big were the Olympic shows at that time? They were like 3-4000 people weren’t they?
Yeah, up there, 5-6000 people. And actually, we played we played a gig in San Diego once with the order of the lineup was this: Adrenalin O.D., Gang Green, SNFU and FEAR there was 3500 people there and half of them were military goons.
I guess I was curious though Chi Pig, you mentioned playing Fender’s back in the day, how was it violent back then for the punk rock that was being displayed in Southern California?
Back then there were a lot of gangs. So it’d be like 200 members of one gang, and 200 members of another gang. So there’d be like, the Suicidal gang, as in Suicidal Tendencies, the Triple FFF gang and then the I’m In A Gang gang.
What did they think of you guys? What did they think of Canadians? SNFU from Edmonton, Wayne Gretzky, what did they think?
They liked us, SNFU at the time was the perfect skateboarding soundtrack music and we were loved and adored, so we never got beaten up, it was good.
Chi Pig of SNFU I saw you also at the NOFX or should I say the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes gig at Richard’s on Richards a while back, when did you first meet Fat Mike?
The first time I met him was at a show way, way back he came to the Roxy on Hollywood Boulevard and he told us that Brett Gurewitz was going to show up and offer us a record deal on Epitaph, which he did. And that was one of the first times that I met him. But he phoned me up in a drunken phone call when he was a teenager and wanted SNFU to come tour with his band. And they were going to supply all the gear and travel with us and I had no idea who the hell they were, he was really really drunk.
I also saw you at the Queens of the Stone Age gig. What was your connection to the Queens of the Stone Age, Chi Pig of SNFU?
Well I have known Hutch, their sound man who did their graphics and everything for 20 or 25 year, so he introduced me to Josh Homme. Yeah, so we just hang out and eat cheese dip and things like that. And we talked about possibly doing a Desert Sessions this year.
That would be great to have you on there Chi Pig.
Yes, I think it would represent Canada in a good way.
What would you do in The Desert Sessions? Would you just sing? Would you play something? Would you provide puppetry? What would you do Chi Pig?
I would do some yoga, a yoga workout. I would orchestrate a yoga workout regiment and some singing, and then maybe we’ll play charades later.
Chi Pig of SNFU, you’re from Edmonton, Alberta. What were the punk bands on the scene in Edmonton, Alberta. I mentioned the Malibu Kens. I also played the Hot Nasties from Calgary, Alberta.
Yeah, they were a bit uppity because one of them one of them had money. And he was into culture…painting. And so the people in the punk community hated him. So he was the target of spit.
What was the first punk band in Edmonton to put out a seven inch or to put out a release? What was the first punk band in Edmonton? It wasn’t SNFU was it?
No. Umm, to put out a release? I’m not sure.
There were some bands like Joey Dead & The Necrophiliacs.
Joey Dead & The Necrophiliacs were the Malibu Kens actually. Thanks for reminding me, they were the punk version of the Malibu Kens. I don’t think the Malibu Kens were the first to release a single. But Moe Berg was in a band called the Modern Minds, they were great and he released a single. That was probably one of the first. There was a band called The Diefenbakers as well in a band called Legal Limit.
How about Spider Jones? Do you remember scenester, Spider Jones?
Spider, his middle name is Yardley. He’s the son of Yardley Jones the Edmonton cartoonist and he is now a contributor to political cartoons.
And was he a punker back then?
Still is. Bold n’ proud. Punk for life.
Chi Pig, what about Jerry Jerry, had they put out any vinyl before they moved to Montreal?
Yeah their first record was out before they moved to Montreal, and then they did what I think is their best record, “Battle Hymn of the Apartment”, in Montreal.
Chi Pig, how hard was it to get on BYO, the record label? Like you guys were on BYO which at the time was pretty happening? How hard was it to get on BYO?
It was pretty easy. We met a bald headed dude named Shawn Stern [of Youth Brigade], who we called penis head. And we made friends with him. It turns out they’re from Toronto. Three brothers from Toronto, their father worked on The Amityville Horror film, and henceforth they moved to LA and became punk rockers. But anyways, they were touring with Social Distortion on the “Another State of Mind” tour. We met them then and they asked us to contribute to a compilation they were making called, “Something to Believe In”, which we did, and that song got a good response, “Victims of the Womanizer”. So we did a whole record with them and then that led to another record.
And they’re still sending you checks to this day? You’re still on BYO your back catalogue?
Yeah, I still get two checks a year from those people. They’re very honest and they’re still the same great people.
And Chi Pig, you also set up BYO Canada, how many records did you put out on BYO Canada?
BYO Canada was set up by our manager named Gubby. Who now works for Wax Trax Records in Chicago. And I think he put out three records. He put out the first two SNFU records and a Jr. Gone Wild record called “Less Art, More Pop!”.
And that “Something To Believe In” record, were the Unwanted on that record as well?
Who were the Unwanted? I noticed your band SNFU played a lot of gigs with the Unwanted, they’re from Winnipeg. What were they like? I don’t really hear too much about the Unwanted.
The Unwanted were more like a political punk band, kinda metal, who had a jock like singer, who wore too tight of clothing. Much like yourself.
Baboom! And we ended up having the bass player for about six months. They were a pretty good band. Actually, here’s a connection, the singer’s little brother Ted was a drummer, and he ended up being the drummer for SNFU for a few years, for the “Better Than a Stick in the Eye” album.
Chi Pig, being from Edmonton and being the premier band from Edmonton. How much did you play in Edmonton? Did you guys play every single weekend over and over again? Because there’s a quote here from the punkhistorycanada.ca site: “thrashing punk band from Edmonton who made it big in the US. How many weekends did you waste watching Chi’s antics on stage?”
We didn’t play every weekend, probably twice a month, twice a month in the city. But we always played around the city.
And I also found out that you played a friend of mine’s house party, he had a house party, it might have been one of your early gigs. You went there, you played the house party. And then afterwards you had this SNFU stamp, and you stamp it everywhere and it kind of got him mad. The SNFU stamp was stamped everywhere was that common practice you play a gig and in stamped SNFU you stamp everywhere?
Yeah! You have to make your mark in this world. Even if it’s with indelible ink.
Chi Pig of SNFU. Moving on to the 1990s, you were on Epitaph records during the glory days, weren’t you? Didn’t you ship 75,000 records like before the records were even in store? Was that true like you shipped quite a few right off the bat?
Yeah, we did. We shipped them and then we sold them and then they shipped us out the door.
Did you do any tours with The Offspring?
I think we played one or two shows with The Offspring, I like those guys. Yep.
Was there any interesting events that happened with them? You know, during the glory days, that era of Epitaph, when records were shipping 75,000.
Uhh…not really. I meant to meet Devo, so that was cool.
Oh so Epitaph helped you meet Devo?
Ahh yes, so the drummer for Bad Religion told me that Devo was housed in this one green building down the street from the Hyatt Riot in LA.
Oh you went to the Devo warehouse!
Yes, and I went there because we had just made a T-shirt with a spoof of the first Devo record cover, with SNFU in Devo letters, it said “Are We Not Punk?” and it had me instead of a Chi Chi Rodriguez it was Chi Chi Rivera. And then I pretended I was a delivery boy and I said “Hello I have a poster for Mark Mothersbaugh please” and they let me in the building.
And once in the building what happened Chi? Did you go crazy?
I went crazy and I ripped my pants and whipped it and I whipped it good. And when I whipped it good, Mark Mothersbaugh introduced me to his brother and a couple of the bed members, and gave me a half hour tour. I walked out with Devo T Shirts and a Devo video.
Do you still have that stuff?
I still have that stuff.
And nowadays, you are playing really interesting gigs, you played Tofino. Did you play Tofino?
I played Tofino, yes.
And how was that?
Was good, I was wearing a wetsuit, like the guy in In Living Color.
You were wearing wetsuit on stage?
Like the guy in In Living Color, remember In Living Color?
Oh! The band In Living Color. Okay.
Yeah. The guy used to wear wetsuits on stage. That was the look.
I always thought that was spandex! Well, thanks much Chi Pig, anything else you want to add to the people out there at all.
I would like to say Whooooo, OOOhhhhh! That’s about it.
All right, Chi Pig. Thanks so much and doot doola doot doo…