My interview with America's favorite cast of pugilistic rockers was going nowhere fast. The members of the band CKY had gathered around a speakerphone in their Maui hotel room to take my phone call. It was only 8 p.m. and guitarist Chad Ginsburg, the only member who seemed remotely interested in answering my lame questions sounded as if he were already halfway to la-la land.
One life toBy Shawn 'Speedy' Lopes
live it up
Yes, the band's CKY and CKY2K music/skateboarding/stunt/prank videos inspired the shopping cart-racing, elephant poo-diving shenanigans of MTV's popular "Jackass" program. Yes, that's drummer Jess Margera's brother Bam in the highly rated cable series, and yes, several members of CKY have been involved in past episodes. "But we're not out to be known as 'The Jackass Band'," he droned. Next question.
"Have you even heard the last album?" came another voice. I had indeed, and I told them precisely what I thought of it. Truthfully, that dark, plodding, Black Sabbath-like sonic sludge had been done a thousand times before, but not quite the way CKY interpreted it. It was a monster. Deron Miller's limber neo-metal riffs combined with Ginsburg's eerie studio techniques made the album ride tighter than Ozzy Osbourne's old Spandex suits. The problem was, the industry probably wouldn't get behind it because the album defies current commercial standards.
"What's your name?" Ginsburg asked, now puzzlingly coherent.
"Speedy," I replied.
"Dude, if I had known what you really thought, we would have given you a totally different interview."
And so we scrapped the 20 minutes of tape and agreed to meet the next day when the band landed on Oahu for a recording session.
During some down time at Audio Resource Honolulu the next afternoon, it was revealed that the Westchester, Pa.-bred band had a rough week. While on Maui, the boys were ousted from the very YMCA skate-rock gathering they were invited to, and later, while waiting for their flight to Honolulu, were hunted down by Kahului airport security for arguing with a hot-headed, aloha-challenged airport employee.
"Turn your shirt inside out when you're running from security," Ginsburg emphasized, recreating the fiasco from his producer's seat. He peels his shirt off from his rawboned frame to reveal the word "Crap" (the name of another popular stunt video) hidden against his chest. "See, look -- 'Where's the guy with the 'Crap' shirt?'"
Even with all the unecessary drama, Ginsburg admits there's no place CKY would rather be currently than in our fair isles. "Even if we were staying in the ghetto part of Maui like we were told," he reasons, "Philly in comparison, is like a trash can behind a Chinese restaurant."
Of course, all this wild living on the road could result in a scandalous VH1 "Behind the Music" documentary several years from now. So who'd be the first member of the current lineup to get kicked out of the band, I ask.
"It might be Vern," says Ginsburg, stealing a sideways glance at the newest addition to the Camp Kill Yourself clique. The pensive Vern Zaborowski, the band's bassist since last July, sits off to one side of the room, contentedly going along with whatever the band says. He has no reply.
"A 'CKY Behind the Music' might consist of possibly, my hospitalization," Ginsburg continues. "We'll end up dying filming something Bam talked us into. Really. How long do you think I'll live?"
"Man, you're going down early," answers Jess Margera. "Liver transplant."
"I'd say probably five years," Ginsburg ventures. "Not like I'm a really hard partier or anything. I just don't have any idea how to take care of myself."
With all the activity that will come from the band's recent signing to Island/Def Jam, he may have to learn quickly. There were intriguing offers from MCA and Interscope as well, but unfortunately, they appeared to be more interested in CKY, the group from "Jackass," than than they were in CKY the band.
"At least I got to tell Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope what I thought of Limp Bizkit after he showed us their new video," Margera remembers, beaming. "He asked us, 'So what do you guys think?,' and we're like, 'Seriously? I think they had their day; I think they're over with.' Then he says, 'Hmmm. I think you're right. I think we're gonna pull back on them.' That was so satisfying."
"I threw a chair at a Capitol records guy," Ginsburg offers, matter-of-factly. What for, I inquire. " 'Cause he was boring." He turns to Miller with the slightest trace of a smirk. "When people read this interview, som of the smart people will get it, but mostly nobody will and we'll just look like pompous asses."
"That's all right," says Miller, who only minutes earlier had spewed about the stupid music business and how much he detested plastic alt-rock goons like Everclear and Creed.
"It's damn all right," states Ginsburg emphatically. "Because I don't remember a single thing guys like Third Eye Blind said on their TV special."
Talk turns to nihilistic shock rocker G.G. allin, whom Ginsburg considers a huge influence and whose erratic behavior and abominable stage antics made him a punk rock legend, even before his death by a drug overdose in 1993.
"Whether people liked his music or not, he wouldn't care," says Ginsburg in a hushed, almost reverent tone. "He'd record an album on a microcassette recorder and sing directly into it with a band he'd just found the day before. It didn't matter because he was doing what he wanted to do. He got people to recognize themselves as individuals and that's what I hope we can do. I've got one life to live and if all I got's five years left ... damn, dude, I'd better start now."
Also: Lo$e Money, Hellbound Hounds and Potluck
In concert: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. today
Place: Wo Fat, 115 N. Hotel St.
Cost: $10, all ages
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